UNC Wilmington rallies past Chanticleers in extra innings

Jake Koenig only had one hit in five at bats, but it proved to be the game winner at UNC Wilmington defeated Coastal Carolina, 5-4, in 10 innings Tuesday night at Brooks Field.

The Chants fall to 20-11 and the Seahawks, which have won 14 of their last 20 since losing to CCU on Mar. 7, are 17-15.

In the 10th, Thomas Pope had a leadoff infield single and moved to second on a Drew Farber sacrifice bunt. Koenig hit the first pitch he saw from Aaron Burke.

The ball was just beyond the reach of CCU shortstop Brian Pruett and left fielder Adam Eggnatz made a strong throw home but Pope slid in just before the tag for the UNCW win.

Both teams had chances to score early, and the Seahawks would finally put a tally on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Andrew Cain was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a Hunter Ridge single to right. Coastal starter Javier Reynoso looked to escape unscathed, but a slow roller to short off the bat of Thomas Pope would end up being an RBI infield single.

Coastal tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth. Daniel Bowman lined an infield single off the pitcher’s back and moved to third on Rich Witten’s single down the right field line. Tucker Frawley reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Bowman to score in the process.

Wilmington regained the lead in the fifth. Michael Bass hit a leadoff triple and scored on Matt Campbell’s sacrifice fly to deep center field for a 2-1 UNCW advantage.

The Chants tied the game then took their first lead of the game in the top of the eighth. With one out, Justin Creel walked, Jacob May was hit by a pitch and Alex Buccilli walked to load the bases. Bowman grounded out, but was able to drive in Creel. The RBI was the 184th of his career, moving him into a tie for second on the CCU all-time list and two shy of the school record of 186, held by Brandon Powell (2000-03). Witten followed with a sharp single to left, plating both May and Buccilli for a 4-2 lead.

The Seahawks wasted no time getting back into the game in the home half of the eighth. Tyler Molinaro hit a leadoff double and Andrew Cain put runners on the corners with an infield single. Ridge hit a dribbler to shortstop for in infield hit, but an error on the play would put runners on the corner once again. Pope tied the game at 4-4 with a sacrifice fly to right field.

In the bottom of the ninth, UNCW loaded the bases with two out but Aaron Burke got a ground out to force extra innings. The play was not as easy as Burke reached to make the play with the ball tipping off his glove to Creel, who made the play at first.

Burke was saddled with the loss, falling to 4-2. He pitched 2.1 innings and allowed four hits, one run and two walks. Reynoso scattered five hits over his five innings, allowing two runs. Ryan Connolly struck out three over 2.0 innings, giving up two hits and two runs (one earned) with a walk.

Tom Timoney (1-1) earned the win, allowing just one hit and one walk with a strikeout in two inning’s work.

Coastal Carolina ends its nine-game road swing with a home contest with The Citadel on Wednesday. First pitch at Watson Stadium is set for 6 pm.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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