CCU pitchers strike out 12 to lift Chants past Bulldogs

ccubase-michael paez vs wku 1 (2)Coastal Carolina had some timely hits, took advantage of three errors and Alex Cunningham struck out a career-high nine batters to lead the Chanticleers (12-6)  to a 7-2 win versus Bryant (2-10) Friday evening in the first of a three-game weekend series at Springs Brooks Stadium.

Cunningham (3-0) only allowed three walks, but they were all in the fourth inning to allow Bryant’s first run to score. However, he left the bases loaded by getting an inning-ending fly ball. Then, in the seventh inning, Cunningham allowed a leadoff home run, making the score 4-2, and a single – two of the three hits he allowed in the game – before bouncing back to strikeout the side for his seventh, eighth and ninth strikeouts of the game.

Overall, Cunningham, Brock Hunter and Andrew Beckwith combined to strike out 12 batters and held the Bulldogs to just four hits.

Offensively for Coastal, Michael Paez was 2-for-2 with three RBI and a run scored, while G.K. Young added two hits and two RBI. Anthony Marks, who ranked among the NCAA top 30 in runs scored entering today’s game, scored four times and had two hit.

Coastal jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Marks reached on his 10th infield hit of the season to start the home half. Paez followed with a sacrifice bunt but a throwing error allowed Marks to take third and put Paez on second. Connor Owings then plated Marks with a sacrifice fly to left center field.

Marks was back at it in the third inning. The junior had a one-out single and scored on a hit-and-run, RBI double by Paez. Two batters later, G.K. Young lined an RBI single to right field to bring home Paez.

Bryant got on the board in the fourth. Jordan Mountford hit a leadoff double and scored after walks to Matt Albanese, Robby Rinn and Cole Fabio. Cunningham limited the damage by getting the inning-ending fly out to center to keep the score 3-1.

The Chants got that run back in the fifth inning. Marks reached on an error, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Young came through with an RBI single for a 4-1 CCU lead.

The Bulldogs cut their deficit in half, 4-2, as Rinn lined a home run just inside the right field foul pole. Fabio followed with a single before Cunningham struck out three straight to end the inning.

Coastal pushed its advantage to four, 6-2, with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Al Molina hit a leadoff single and was lifted for pinch runner Josh Crump. Marks laid down a sacrifice bunt but a throwing error on the play moved put runners on second and third. With a drawn-in infield, Paez looped a single into right field to score two.

The Chants tacked on a run in the eighth to take a 7-2 lead. Zach Remillard and Tyler Chadwick were hit by pitches. After a passed ball, David Parrett plated Remillard with sacrifice fly to left field.

Hunter struck out the only batter he faced to start the eighth inning and Beckwith fanned two in 2.1 scoreless innings to close out the game.

Kyle Wilcox (0-1) suffered the loss. He allowed six hits and four runs (two earned) with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings.

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