Breaking down CCU, foes at NCAA Conway Regional

It was just two years ago when Coastal Carolina baseball began its run for the national championship in Omaha. The road back starts this week on its own home field at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway.

After claiming the Sun Belt regular season title and tournament titles, the Chanticleers are the No. 15 national seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Action will kick off at noon Friday with #2 UConn vs. #3 Washington. #1 Coastal plays #4 LIU Brooklyn at 6 p.m.

Here’s a look at each team as they enter the NCAA Conway Regional:

#1 Coastal Carolina (42-17) comes into the regional winning 10 out of its last 11, including a 5-2 win at home over national power North Carolina, and a clean sweep of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with an eventual 11-6 win over Troy to claim the title.

Coastal will look to its seniors for leadership at the plate in the regional. Both Kevin Woodall Jr. and Seth Lancaster lead the team with 19 homeruns. Woodall Jr. leads the team with 70 hits, while adding 67 runs scored, and a team-leading 62 Runs Batted In. His .300 average his helped him reach 138 total bases. Lancaster batting at a .311 clip has 140 total bases, 79 runs scored, 66 hits and a team-high 61 walks. Parker Chavers comes in region play leading the team at .316. He has added 65 hits, 46 runs scored, and 102 total bases. Cory Wood has totaled 62 hits and 57 runs scored. He is second on the team in walks with 50 while batting .295. Zach Biermann has added a .291 average while scoring 51 runs and adding 58 hits. He is third on the team in both homeruns (12) and RBI (51).

On the mound, Coastal is led by Jason Bilous and Zack Hopeck both with 15 starts. Bilous (3.39 ERA) is 7-2, while striking out 102 batters and allowing 64 walks in 79.2 innings. Hopeck is 6-4 with 70 strikeouts and 31 walks in 81.2 innings. Matt Eardensohn leads the team in ERA with a 1.66 mark. He holds a 7-0 record in 19 games. Anthony Veneziano has also added a 6-1 record with 55 strikeouts. Carolina Forest alum Patrick Orlando has made 17 appearances for a 2-2 mark.

#4 LIU Brooklyn comes into the matchup with Coastal at 31-24 on the season. They finished 16-12 in the Northeast Conference. They have won seven in a row with its last win coming 8-5 over Wagner College in the NEC Conference Tournament.

The Blackbirds are led at the plate by Andrew Turner who holds a .344 batting average in 45 games. In 154 at-bats, he has totaled 53 hits and 24 runs scored. Turner has added 15 doubles, five homeruns and 19 runs batted in. Alex Briggs leads the team in both homeruns and RBIs with eight and 43 respectively. He also holds a .282 average in 51 games played, 50 hits, 27 runs scored, 13 doubles, while adding 87 total bases. Edward Modica Jr. finished the regular season with a team-leading 56 hits, adding 29 runs scored. He added 74 total bases, four homeruns and 29 RBIs for a .295 average.

Brooklyn LIU will likely look to Patrick Clyne, who led the team in starts this season with 14, going 5-4 in 82.0 innings pitched for a 4.39 ERA and a team-leading 86 strikeouts. Zach Pederson comes into the regional with 13 starts, going 6-4 in 75.1 innings pitched. Cory Hart comes in with just a 5.75 ERA, but also has added 12 starts and 56.1 innings pitched. Mike Kreiger leads the team in appearances with 27 and 41.2 innings and 55 strikeouts.

#2 UConn comes into the tournament after a 35-20-1 finish, and a 14-10 record in the American Athletic Conference. They lost in the finals of the AAC Tournament 4-3 to East Carolina. That was after winning two-of-three from the Pirates at UConn to end the regular season. Another big series win for the Huskies came earlier in the season when they won two-of-three over St. Johns. Coastal fans got an early season glimpse of UConn as the Huskies defeated the Chanticleers 12-10 on March 13.

UConn is led at the plate by Zac Susi who has gone .328 on the season in 52 games played. He has added 65 hits and 29 runs scored. Isaac Feldstein led the team in homeruns with 13 and RBIs with 40. He has 108 total bases, while also leading the team with 12 doubles. UConn will look to get production from Anthony Prato and Troy Stefanski batting .327 and .321 respectively. They lead the team in hits with 74 and 68. Stefanski has added 94 total bases and nine doubles. Prato has added 90 total bases and none doubles.

Mason Feole leads the Huskies on the mound in both earned run average and wins going 9-1 on the season with a 2.50 ERA in 15 games. He added 114 strikeouts and 47 walks in 93.2 innings pitched. P.J. Poulin and Jacob Wallace lead the team in appearances with 30 and 26. Poulin has a 3.30 ERA with a 6-2 record, 16 saves, 54 strikeouts in 43.2 innings pitched. Wallace has a 3.16 ERA, 62 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 42.2 innings pitched.

#3 Washington finished with an overall record of 30-23, while going 20-10 in the PAC 12 Conference. The Huskies finished the season winning two-of-three from national power and No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed Stanford – 7-0, 4-2 and 5-6. They captured big wins on the season over Gonzaga 5-3 at home, 8-0 over East Carolina at home, 8-4 over Oregon State on the road, and 6-4 over Minnesota at home.

Washington is led at the plate by Mason Cerrillo at .349 with 49 games, 189 at-bats, 30 runs scored, 66 hits, 14 doubles, 18 walks and 80 total bases. Joe Wainhouse leads the team in homeruns with 14 while adding 50 RBIs. His .309 average and 60 hits are both second on the team. He added 113 total bases. Nick Kahle and Levi Jordan are first and second on the team in doubles with 19 and 13. Kahle has 59 hits and 36 runs scored. Jordan has totaled 57 hits and 39 runs scored.

On the hill, Washington will look to Joe DeMers and Jordan Jones or possibly Lucas Knowles. Demers and Jones both have 16 appearances both with 6-3 records. DeMers leads the team in innings pitched at 105.1 and a 2.56 ERA. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 83, while added just 18 walks. Jones has 76 strikeouts in 89.0 innings pitched with just 14 walks for an ERA of 3.44. Knowles has appeared in 20 games for a 3.74 ERA, while striking out 59 batters and allowing 18 walks. Alex Hardy leads the team in saves with seven in 31 appearances with 43 strikeouts.

Winners from both games will move on the winner’s bracket to play on Saturday in Conway. Losing teams will face off in the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination regional. If necessary, a game will be played on Monday.

– Photo by Joel Beachum

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