Chants battered by Tigers, drop into losers bracket

Coastal Carolina baseball saw a 2-2 tie disappear in the fourth inning as the Auburn Tigers scored 14 runs over its last five at-bats to pull away with a 16-7 win over the Chanticleers in the first game of the 2019 NCAA Atlanta Regional on Friday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium.

The loss snaps Coastal’s (35-25-1) winning streak at five-straight games and puts the Chants one game away from elimination. Auburn (34-25) will now be in the winner’s bracket with the win.

The CCU offense got two hits from shortstop Scott McKeon (2-for-5, RBI) while eight other Chants had one hit apiece in the loss. Sophomore Parker Chavers (1-for-5, HR, RBI, run) and senior Zach Biermann (1-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs, run) each had a home run and combined to drive in four RBIs for the game.

Auburn’s offensive breakout was led by sophomore outfielder Steven Williams (4-for-5, HR, 5 RBIs, 2 runs) as he drove in a game-high five RBIs in the win, while the top of the order in Judd Ward (3-for-5, BB, RBI, 2 runs) and Ryan Bliss (3-for-5, BB, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) combined to go 6-for-10 with four RBIs and four runs scored.

Coastal starter Anthony Veneziano (5-3) suffered the loss, as the left-handed junior hurler gave up six runs on seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts over 4.0-complete innings.

The Chants’ offense drove Auburn starter Jack Owen out of the game after just 3.2 innings; however, the win went to the Tigers’ Elliott Anderson (6-2) as he gave up three runs on one hit, two walks and four strikeouts over 2.2 innings out of the bullpen.

Auburn got on the scoreboard first, as the Tigers led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back singles. After a strikeout and a fly ball moved the lead runner up to third, a called balk allowed the Tigers’ Ward to score from third and put the first run up in the game.

A wild pitch followed by a Matt Scheffler line drive into left field for an RBI single extended the Tigers’ lead out to 2-0 after just one inning of play.

The Chants got one run back in the top of the third, as Cory Wood led off the inning with a double, advanced to third on a ground out and then eventually scored on a wild pitch to cut the Auburn lead in half at 2-1 midway through the third.

Chavers, an Alabama native, tied the game up in the top of the fourth inning with one swing of the bat with a solo home run to right-center field to put the score at 2-2. It was Chaver’s 14th home run on the year.

However, the Tigers retook the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a Rankin Woley RBI single and a three-run home run to right field from Williams to give the home team a 6-2 lead heading into the fifth inning.

Auburn added to its lead with back-to-back RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth to push its lead out to six at 8-2 with four innings to play.

After an Auburn solo home run by Conor Davis in the bottom of the sixth put the Tigers up 9-2, Biermann hit a three-run home run to right-center field that took the Auburn outfielder’s glove with it to put the Chants within four at 9-5. The home run was his team-leading 18th dinger of the season.

Yet the Chants couldn’t get a shutdown inning, as Auburn plated two in the bottom of the seventh on three hits, including a Bliss two-run single to pull back out in front at 11-5.

Auburn padded its lead with a five-run eighth to go up 16-5 before the Chants scored two runs in the top of the ninth on back-to-back pinch-hit base hits, a wild pitch and an RBI single from McKeon to put the final score at 16-7.

Both teams left 10 runners on base and struck out double-digit times with Coastal fanning 13 times and Auburn 10.

Coastal will play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Chants will take on the loser of the game tonight between No. 1 Georgia Tech and No. 4 Florida A&M.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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