Chants dig deep, defend Sun Belt championship

Coastal Carolina outscored the Georgia Southern Eagles 9-1 over the final six innings of play and got 4.0-scoreless innings from pitcher Scott Kobos down the stretch in a 9-7 win over the No. 2-seeded Eagles in the 2019 Sun Belt Championship title game on Sunday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium.

The Chants have now won back-to-back Sun Belt Championships in only three years in the league. CCU moves to 9-2 all-time in the Sun Belt Championship Tournament and 2-0 in the championship game.

Coastal recorded five-straight wins after dropping its first game in the tournament to win the championship, the first time the Chants won five-straight games since March 15-23 this season.

Coastal Carolina’s 18 home runs for the tournament set a new Sun Belt Championship record for the most home runs by a single team in the conference championship event, while their 80 runs shattered the previous record of 61 set by FIU in 2010.

The Chants hit three or more home runs in four of their last five games and registered a total of 90 base hits over the tournament, eclipsing the previous Sun Belt Tournament team record of 89 set by FIU in 2010.

Offensively, senior Kieton Rivers (2-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 runs) hit two home runs for the fourth time this season and the second time in the last three games, while junior Scott McKeon (2-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) also had two extra-base hits in the win.

Fellow Chants Kyle Skeels (3-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI, run), Cory Wood (1-for-3, BB, RBI, run) and Jared Johnson (0-for-1, SF, RBI) all had an RBI in the victory.

For the Eagles, four different players had two hits apiece in Nolan Tressler (2-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBIs, 2 runs), Noah Ledford (2-for-3, HR, 2 BB, 2 RBIs, run), Jason Swan (2-for-5, 2 RBIs) and Christian Avant (2-for-4, run). All seven runs for the Eagles were scored with two outs.

The win went to freshman hurler Alaska Abney (3-4) who pitched 1.1 innings out of the bullpen, allowing just one hit and one walk, while Kobos (1) shut down the Eagles’ lineup, allowing three hits and one walk, while striking out four over the final 4.0 innings to pick up the save.

GS reliever Hayden Harris (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season, as he gave up four runs on one hit, three walks and three strikeouts over 1.1 innings out of the bullpen.

Both teams made an error in the field on the very first at-bat, however, it was Georgia Southern that capitalized with a two-out RBI single just inside the left field line from Swan in the bottom of the first to plate an unearned run and take an early 1-0 lead after one inning of play.

The Eagles added to their lead in the bottom of the second with a five-run frame highlighted by a pair of two-run home runs from pinch hitter Tressler and Ledford to put the No. 2 seed in front 6-0 through two innings.

After Zach McCambley bounced back to strike out the side in the bottom of the third, the offense broke through in the top of the fourth on an RBI double down the left field line from McKeon, a sacrifice fly by Johnson and a Wood RBI single to cut the Eagles’ lead in half at 6-3.

GS plated another two-out run with a bases-loaded single by Swan in the bottom of the fourth, only to see the Chants answer back with a lead-off home run from Rivers in the top of the fifth to put the score at 7-4 in favor of the Eagles.

Coastal looked to continue to chip away at the lead in the inning, as Skeels walked and Parker Chavers was hit-by-pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. However, GS’s Harris recorded a strikeout to end the inning and keep the team in white in front by three.

Rivers would strike again in the next CCU at-bat, as the senior outfielder hit a three-run home run over the left-center field wall to score both Cameron Pearcey and Wood to knot the game up at 7-7.

The Chants took its first lead of the game three batters later, as Skeels hit a ball off the 20-foot batter’s eye in straight-away center field to score Wright all the way around from first to give the men in teal an 8-7 lead.

While Kobos pitched around a hit in the sixth and two base hits in the seventh to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard in the middle innings, Coastal added an insurance run on a solo home run by McKeon on the first pitch of the seventh inning to double its lead to two a 9-7 heading into the seventh-inning stretch.

Kobos did the rest, as the junior lefty sent the Eagles down in order in the eighth and pitched around a one-out walk in the ninth to secure the win for the Chants.

The 2019 championship is the 16th conference tournament title in program history and the second as members of the Sun Belt.

The 2019 NCAA baseball tournament field will be revealed at noon ET on Monday, May 27. Fans can watch the 64-team bracket release on ESPNU or WatchESPN.

Most Outstanding Player
Kieton Rivers, Coastal Carolina

2019 Sun Belt All-Tournament Team
Chad Bell, ULM
Trey Jeans, ULM
Connor Aube, UTA
Drew Frederic, Troy
Lance Johnson, Troy
Nick Jones, Georgia Southern
Tyler Owens, Georgia Southern
Jason Swan, Georgia Southern
Zach Biermann, Coastal Carolina
Parker Chavers, Coastal Carolina
Kyle Skeels, Coastal Carolina
Cory Wood, Coastal Carolina
Jake Wright, Coastal Carolina

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