Illini nip Chants in opener; twinbill moved to Saturday

ccubase-8Illinois drew a leadoff walk in the eighth inning and eventually scored to take a 7-6 decision from #18 Coastal Carolina Friday evening at Springs Brooks Stadium.

Due to inclement weather in the forecast for Sunday, Coastal (9-7) and Illinois (4-7) will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at Noon.

In the eighth inning, designated hitter Anthony Drago, who hit a key three-run home run earlier in the contest, walked to start the frame and was lifted for pinch runner Tyler Engle. After a sacrifice bunt, Jack Yalowitz hit an RBI single to left field to bring home what proved to be the game winner.

Coastal tried to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on first and second, the Chants attempted a squeeze bunt, but Illinois threw out the runner at the plate to keep it a one-run game.

Ryan Schmitt earned his first save, despite giving up a two-out walk before Illinois first baseman Pat McInerny caught a line drive to end the game.

Coastal’s Wood Myers tied a career high with four hits, going 4-for-5, with an RBI single and solo home run.

Coastal started the game well by loading the bases in the first inning with one out, but came away empty. However, Chants broke through in the second with three runs. Dalton Ewing drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Matt Beaird’s double to center. Cory Wood singled to right to bring home Ewing while Beaird scored due to a throwing error on the play. Wood later scored on an RBI single by Myers.

Bren Spillane put Illinois on the scoreboard in the fourth with a one-out, solo home run to right field to make the score 3-1. The Illini then added three more, thanks to a three-run home run by Drago to put the visitors up 4-3.

Myers tied the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning with a leadoff, line-drive home run to right field, marking his third round-tripper of the season. Two batters later, Kevin Woodall Jr., matched Myers with a solo home run to right-center field to put the Chants up 5-4 and give Woodall his eighth home run of the season.

The fifth home run of the game came from CCU’s Ewing in the sixth inning to give the Chanticleers a 6-4 advantage.

The Illini knotted the game at 6-6 with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. With one out, Ben Troike singled and moved to third on a double by McInerney. Spillane followed with an infield single that scored Troike and left runners on the corners.  Doran Turchin hit a check swing back to the mound but beat the play at first for an RBI single to plate McInerney and tie the game.

Quentin Sefcik (1-2) got the win. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings in relief, allowing a hit and a walk with a strikeout.

CCU starter Alex Cunningham struck out eight over his six innings. Bobby Holmes (1-2) was took the loss. He allowed five hits, three runs and four walks as he pitched the final three innings.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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