Chants take two from Bucs, claim Big South title six-peat

Rich Witten went 6-for-6 with five RBI in game one and Daniel Bowman was 3-for-5 in game two to lead Coastal Carolina to wins of 15-8 and 6-1 at Charleston Southern as part of a doubleheader Friday at CSU Ballpark.

With the win, Coastal Carolina (36-17, 17-5) wins its sixth straight Big South regular-season title, ninth in the tenure of head coach Gary Gilmore and 15th in school history.

Coastal will conclude the 2012 regular season Saturday with a single game at Charleston Southern (20-33, 11-2). First pitch is set for 2:00 pm.

In game one, a 30-minute rain delay did not affect the Chanticleers as Jacob May, who had three hits and three RBI in the contest, reached on a one-out single and, after stealing second, scored on Rich Witten’s two-out, RBI double to left-center field for a 1-0 lead.

The Buccaneers answered in the home half, scoring three runs. Bobby Ison reached on an error and scored on Chase Streett’s two-out home run. Alex Tomasovich followed with a walk and scored on Walt Quattlebaum’s RBI double down the left-field line.

In the fourth, Charleston Southern pulled starter Ryan Gunther, who struck out five in three innings, in favor of Kyle Ward. Coastal responded by sending 10 men to the plate, scoring five times on five hits to go up 6-3. Creel started the inning with a walk and moved to third on Chris Suseck’s single to center. After an out, Ted Blackman was hit by a pitch to load the bases. May doubled down the right field line to bring home Creel and Suseck. Daniel Bowman welcomed new pitcher Denis Buckley to the game with a two-run triple and scored one pitch later on Witten’s single.

Coastal padded its lead in the fifth. Suseck, who had three hits, was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on May’s RBI double to make the score 7-3.

In the sixth, Coastal loaded bases with no outs thanks to a single from Witten, double from Alex Buccilli and walk to Tucker Frawley, who had three hits in the contest. Creel launched a 3-2 pitch over the left field fence off the scoreboard for his first career home run and the Chants’ first grand slam since Witten hit one versus Radford on May 8, 2011.  Coastal reloaded the bases with two outs and Witten collected his fifth hit in as many at bats, plating two for a 13-3 Chanticleer advantage.

In the home half of the sixth, Charleston Southern got one run back. Streett had a leadoff single and moved to second on a single by Jaren Sustar. With two out, Blake Hunt line an RBI single to right field.

The Bucs took advantage of two CCU errors, sent 10 men to the plate and added four runs in the seventh, making the score 13-8. Shane Miles reached on a leadoff error and Cody Austin followed with a single. After an out, Streett ripped a two-run double down the third base line. Two batters later, Quattlebaum lined a single to center field, just in front on a diving May, to bring home Streett. An error kept the inning alive and, a batter later, set up an RBI single by Hunt.

Witten made it 6-for-6, finding a hole on the left side of the infield to drive in May, who walked and stole second, to give Coastal a 14-8 cushion. He also sewt a school record for hits in a single game, according to available records.

The Chants added a run in the ninth. Frawley reached on an infield single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third on Suseck’s single. Brian Pruett plated Frawley with a sacrifice fly to left field to provide the 15-8 final.

Freshman Austin Kerr (1-0) was credited with the win, pitching a scoreless fifth inning. Tyler Herb was the starter but did not figure in the decision after exiting in the fourth with a 7-3 lead. He allowed four hits and three runs (none earned) with two walks and two strikeouts.

In game two, Coastal scored first, taking advantage of a Buccaneer error. Creel walked and took third on Tripp Martin’s double. Pruett hit a ground ball to short, but an errant throw allowed Pruett to reach and Creel score. May manufactured a run in the third. After a leadoff single, he stole second and moved to third on a ground out. Buccilli, who was 2-for-4 with three RBI in the game, reached on a bad-hop single to third, allowing May to score to give Coastal a 2-0 advantage.

Charleston Southern cut its deficit in half, 2-1, in the fourth. Chase Shelton had a leadoff single and took second on a wild pitch. That wild pitch proved pivotal as, with two outs, Quattlebaum’s single to left was enough to get Shelton home.

The Chants regained a two-run lead, 3-1, in the sixth. With walks to Witten and Buccilli, Creel singled to load the bases with no outs. Suseck did his job by hitting a fly ball deep enough to score Witten. In the top of the ninth, Coastal added three insurance runs. Martin started the inning by ripping a 1-2 fastball off the scoreboard in left field for his second homer of the season.  Coastal would eventually load the bases with two outs before Buccilli found a hole on the right side of the infield for a two-run single.

Austin Wallace improved to 5-0, pitching six innings in game two. He allowed four hits and one run with no walks and four strikeouts. Ryan Connolly picked up his 11 save of the season, retiring all nine batters he faced. He did not allow a hit or a walk over three innings while striking out two.

Photo by Joel Beachum


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