Herb, balanced bat attack lead Coastal past Bulldogs

Eight Chanticleers had at least one hit and five drove in one run each to lead #28 Coastal Carolina (19-9, 3-1) to a 5-2 win at Gardner-Webb (16-15, 2-5) Friday night.

Tyler Herb, who was Coastal’s Friday-night starter the first four weeks of the season, assumed the role again Friday as Josh Conway was not 100 percent. Herb returned to his early-season form as well, getting the win and improving to 5-2. The sophomore struck out seven over five innings, allowing five hits and two runs with just one walk.

The pitching effort was key early as Coastal left six runners on base through three innings.

After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning, Coastal got on the scoreboard in the second. Brian Pruett reached on a one-out single and moved to third on a Jacob May single down the right field line. Justin Creel laid down a safety squeeze bunt, but beat out the play at first for an RBI single.

The Bulldogs answered back to tie the game at 1-1 in the home half of the second inning. Aaron McFarland reached on a fielder’s choice and took second on a wild pitch. Brad Collins brought McFarland home with a single up the middle.

Coastal quickly regained the lead in the top of the third. Tucker Frawley, after having a foul ball dropped to stay alive at the plate, doubled down the left field line and took third on Ted Blackman’s deep fly out to center. Chris Suseck had an impressive at bat to score Frawley. With two strikes, the freshman choked up and made just enough contact to place a single over the third baseman’s head for a 2-1 CCU lead.

The Chants used another good piece of two-strike hitting in the fifth as Alex Buccilli launched a 2-2 pitch over the right field fence for his third home run of the season, putting the Chants up 3-1.

Gardner-Webb trimmed its deficit to one, 3-2, in the fifth. Zeke Blanton singled and took second on a sacrifice bunt. He would later steal third and an error allowed him to score on the play.

Coastal regained a two-run lead in the seventh. Buccilli drew a two-out walk and Daniel Bowman followed with a triple to right-center field. The Bulldogs threatened in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two out before Austin Kerr induced a ground ball to end the inning.

Blackman and the Chants manufactured a run in the eighth to go up 5-2. The junior drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sac bunt. Blackman would steal third for his team-leading 10th theft of the season before Pruett lined an RBI single to left field for his second hit of the evening. May would also walk and steal a base, giving him 10 stolen bases as well, but would be stranded.

Aaron Burke, who ranks second in the NCAA in ERA, pitched the final two innings to earn his fifth save. He allowed one hit, retiring six of the seven batters he faced.

Bulldog starting pitcher Matt Fraudin (1-3) was saddled with the loss, allowing eight hits and four runs (three earned) over seven complete.

Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb will complete the weekend set with a doubleheader Saturday. The first game is set for 1 pm with game two starting approximately 45 minutes after the completion of game one.

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