Chants get relief from rain, bullpen to close out Illinois

After having two games cancelled Saturday due to rain, the weather cleared up Sunday allowing Coastal Carolina to take the field and defeat Illinois, 5-4, at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field.

The Chants (4-4) broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single by Justin Creel.  From that point, Coastal Carolina relief pitchers Devin Bradley, Austin Kerr and Ryan Connolly combined to allow just one hit and one walk with three strikeouts over the final three innings to preserve the win. Connolly earned his third save of the season while the three pitchers have yet to allow an earned run in 14.1 innings of relief work.

Coastal took advantage of three errors to score three runs in the bottom of the first. Ted Blackman, who was 2-for-3 with a run scored, started the home half with a single and Tucker Frawley was hit by a pitch. Rich Witten was called up to deliver a sacrifice bunt but would load the bases on a fielding error. With one out, Daniel Bowman’s ground ball got past the Illini third baseman to allow two runs home. Bryce Dial also hit a ground ball, but a throwing error allowed the third CCU run to cross home plate.

In the second, Illinois (4-5) responded with one-out, solo home run by Jordan Parr, making the score 3-1.

The Chants manufactured a run in the fourth. Alex Buccilli drew a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Keith Picconi sacrifice fly to put CCU up 4-1.

Illinois trimmed its deficit to one, 4-3, with two runs in the fifth, taking advantage of two errors. After a leadoff single by Parr, Davis Hendrickson hit a come-backer to the pitcher but a throwing error put runners on first and second. A Kelly Norris-Jones single, which ricocheted off second base, scored Parr and moved Hendrickson to third. Will Krug plated Hendrickson with an RBI groundout. The Illini threatened as Thomas Lindauer had a bunt single. A throwing error on the play moved Krug from first around third, but Daniel Bowman threw out Krug at the plate.

The Illini tied the game at 4-4 in the sixth. Reid Roper came through with a one-out double to left, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Hendrickson’s RBI single through the right side of the infield.

Coastal got the lead back, scoring once in the home half of the sixth. Bowman started things with a single to center then stole second. After a ground out, Creel brought home Bowman with an RBI single.

CCU starter Ben Smith only allowed two hits, one run and one with five strikeouts over four innings. Aaron Burke (2-0) was credited with the win, pitching 1.1 innings while allowing two hits and a run.

For Illinois, J. Parr was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Norris-Jones was 2-for-4. Illini starter John Kravetz only allowed two hits over four innings, but surrendered four runs (three earned) with three walks and two strikeouts. Matt Milroy (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing three hits and one run with six strikeouts over the final four innings.

Coastal Carolina is scheduled to return to action Wednesday, Mar. 7, hosting UNC Wilmington at 4 pm.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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