Chants sweep Trojans, nab top seed, Sun Belt East title

For the second time this weekend, Coastal Carolina shutout Little Rock thanks to a hard-fought, 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium. (The Chanticleers won 4-0 on Friday.) The lone run Sunday came in the seventh inning as CCU’s Cory Wood beat out an infield single to first base while Parker Chavers never broke stride from the crack of the bat to score from second base on the play.

With the sweep, the 19th-ranked Chanticleers (36-13, 21-6 Sun Belt) clinch both the Sun Belt East Division title and the top overall seed for the Sun Belt Tournament with one weekend of conference series remaining. It is the second time in its first two years in the league Coastal has earned the top seed for the Sun Belt Tournament, while CCU clinches its 18th overall regular season conference title.

Little Rock, which entered the weekend as the West Division leader, falls to 26-23, 14-12 in the league. The Trojans and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are locked in a tight battle for the West Division title and both host their in-state rivals next week.

Today’s game marked the final regular-season home contest for five Chanticleer seniors – Zack Hopeck, Lee Sponseller, Matt Beaird, Kevin Woodall Jr., and Seth Lancaster. Thanks to the group, Coastal, winners of five straight overall, has tallied five shutouts this season. The Chanticleers also record their fourth series sweep of the season, win their eighth Sun Belt series in nine tries this season and improve to 32-5 over their last 37 league games dating back to last season. In its 19 total Sun Belt weekends over two seasons, Coastal is 15-3-1 in the three-game sets.

Specifically in today’s win, Coastal used its speed to score the lone run of the game. Parker Chavers and Keaton Weisz each singled. Then, with two outs and the pair on second and first, respectively, Cory Wood hit a hard ground ball to first. Trojan first baseman James Gann made a diving catch to his right but Wood out-raced him to the base for a single. With two outs, Chavers was immediately running from second base, rounded third and slid in under the tag at home for the game’s only run.

Neither of the starting pitchers were involved in the decision. Coastal’s Zack McCambley pitched five-plus scoreless innings, allowing three hits and four walks with five strikeouts. He exited in the sixth after allowing a leadoff walk and going 2-0 on the next batter. Matt Eardensohn (6-0) came out of the CCU bullpen and retired that batter with an infield pop out. Eardensohn walked the next batter – the only base runner he allowed – and left runners on the corners after a fly out and a second infield pop out.

Anthony Veneziano worked 1.1 scoreless but gave up a one-out walk in the ninth before turning the ball over to Jay Causey, who earned his third save of the week and fourth of the season. Causey did walk the first batter he faced, putting runners on first and second, but got a strikeout and fly out to secure the win.

For Little Rock, Aaron Funk was impressive in his six scoreless innings of work. He scattered five hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Donavin Buck (6-1) suffered the loss as he allowed four hits and the lone run in one inning.

Coastal Carolina will close the regular season next week at Appalachian State. The game, and all Sun Belt games next week, will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Game one in Boone, N.C., is set for 6 pm as is game two, which is a change from the original schedule. The 2018 regular-season finale is set for 1 pm on Saturday.

– Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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