Chants rally in ninth inning, face top-ranked Tar Heels

After allowing five runs and surrendering the lead in the top of the ninth thanks to an error and three walks, 35th-ranked Coastal Carolina took advantage of three James Madison errors in the bottom of the ninth to score twice and pull out an 8-7 decision on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon at Pelicans Ballpark.

Coastal improves to 2-0 after opening the season Friday with a win over the Dukes in Florence and seeing Saturday’s scheduled home opener foiled by weather. Coastal has added a game to its schedule to make up for Saturday’s cancellation. The Chanticleers will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday to face top-ranked North Carolina at 3 pm.

The Chants led Sunday’s game by four to start the ninth inning, but JMU’s Bradley Shaban hit a high pop up between home plate and the pitcher’s mound and Coastal was unable to make the play. Johnny Bladel followed with a walk. Coastal turned to relief pitcher Austin Wallace, who struck out the first batter he faced. However, Matt Tanaglia singled to load the bases. Conner Brown and Cole McInturff each walked to force in two runs and make it a two-run game. Seth Lamando (1-0) came out of the bullpen and faced pinch hitter Tyler Gregory, who hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to trim the Dukes’ deficit to one. Casey Goss followed with an two-run single for a 7-6 JMU lead.

In the home half, Chris Suseck reached on a fielding error by the Dukes’ shortstop. Jacob May followed with a bunt, but the JMU catcher’s throw to second was errant. Justin Creel laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third and James Madison elected to intentionally walk Alex Buccilli to load the bases. Ted Blackman hit a hard ground ball to second. JMU’s Shaban fielded the ball cleanly, but the throw to second was wide, allowing Suseck and May to score the tying and winning runs.

Coastal jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Jake Kane walked, Buccilli was hit by a pitch and Blackman walked to load the bases, setting the stage for an RBI single by Will Remillard, who was 2-for-4 with three RBI on the day. Two batters later, Brian Pruett delivered a two-out, two-run double.

James Madison trimmed its deficit to two, 3-1, in the second. Goss singled, advanced to second on a ground out and scored on an RBI single to centerfield by Shaban.

The Chants answered back with three runs in the home half of the second. With two outs, Kane and Buccilli walked and Blackman was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Remillard hit a two-run double, plating Kane and Buccilli, and Blackman would score off a wild pitch by new JMU pitcher Aaron Hoover.

James Madison added a run in the fifth to make the score 6-2. Matt Tenaglia singled, took second on a passed ball and scored on Conner Brown’s RBI single through the left side of the infield.

Neither team threatened over the next three-and-a-half innings, setting the stage for the combined seven-run ninth.

Coastal Carolina starter, sophomore Ben Smith, scattered six hits over five complete and allowed two runs, one earned, with two walks and a strikeout. Alex Cunningham pitched three-plus innings, allowing one hit, two runs (one earned) and one walk with two strikeouts. Lamando, who picked up his first career save Friday, notched his first career win, allowing one hit in 0.2 innings.

Goss led the Dukes, going 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBI, while Tenaglia and Shaban each added two hits. Chris Huffman (0-1) suffered the loss despite not allowing a hit or a walk in 1.1 innings. Starter Michael Howerton lasted only 1.2 innings and allowed three hits, six runs and four walks with three strikeouts.

The Chants will return home from Chapel Hill to host the Caravelle Resort Tournament beginning Friday.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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