Coastal wrangles Rattlers to stay alive in Regional

The Chanticleers took an early 3-0 lead and did not look back in a 9-4 win over the Florida A&M Rattlers in an elimination game on Saturday afternoon at the 2019 NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Coastal improved to 36-25-1 on the season with the win, while the Rattlers ended their season at 27-34 with the loss.

The Chants are now 6-0 in elimination games over the Sun Belt Tournament and NCAA Regional.

Freshman pitcher Nick Parker (2-1) was fabulous in the win for the Chants, as he allowed just three runs on eight hits, a walk and two strikeouts over 5.0-plus innings in the start.

The save went to Austin Kitchen (1) who pitched 3.0-scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out four to secure the win for the Chants.

The loss fell to FAMU starter Josh Hancock (5-7), as the right-hander gave up six runs on five hits, four walks and four strikeouts over 4.2-plus innings on the mound.

CCU’s offense got home runs from Jake Wright (2-for-3, HR, BB, RBI, 2 runs) and Parker Chavers (1-for-4, HR, BB, RBI) as seven different players had at least one RBI in the victory. Scott McKeon (2-for-5, RBI) continued his hitting streak with two base hits, while fellow middle infielder Cory Wood (2-for-3, 2 BB, RBI, 3 runs) set the table at the top of the lineup by reaching base four out of five times on the day.

Florida A&M picked up 13 hits, however, the Rattlers scored just four runs and left 11 runners on base in the loss. Outfielder Willis McDaniel (2-for-5, HR, RBI, 2 runs) had a solo home run, while fellow outfielder Seyjuan Lawrence (3-for-4, run) and catcher Brett Maxwell (3-for-4, 2B, RBI) had three hits apiece.

After both teams stranded one runner each of the first two innings of play, the Chanticleers broke through in the top of the third with the help of a FAMU error.

Redshirt junior Cameron Pearcey opened up the frame with a double to left-center field and then advanced to third on a fielding error in the outfield on the play. Wood then singled up the middle past a drawn-in infield to plate Pearcey and put the Chants in front 1-0 early.

Back-to-back walks to Wright and Zach Biermann loaded the bases for Kyle Skeels who hit a sacrifice fly to right field to double the visitor’s lead at 2-0. Three pitches later, Wright would score on a wild pitch to give CCU a 3-0 lead midway through the third.

FAMU got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth on a solo home run from McDaniel to put the score at 3-1, before the Chants put up another three-spot in the top of the fifth on a Skeels’ sacrifice fly, an RBI single by McKeon and a bases-loaded walk to Nick Lucky to push the Chants’ lead out to 6-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

CCU’s Wright added to the lead in the next inning with a solo home run to right-center field, his 11th of the year, to extend the Chants’ lead to 7-1 midway through the sixth.

However, the Rattlers refused to go away, as the home team got their offense going in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back singles from McDaniel and Lawrence, a walk to Kaycee Reese and an RBI bloop-single down the right-field line to put the score at 7-2.

Two batters later, Robert Robinson hit a sac fly to center field to score another FAMU run. The Rattlers capped off the three-run inning with an RBI single up the middle from Octavien Moyer to trim the Coastal lead to three at 7-4 after six innings of play.

Coastal got one run back in the next half inning, as Chavers hit a solo home run to right-center field, his second home run of the regional, to double-up the Rattlers at 8-4 going into the seventh-inning stretch.

The Chants continued its scoring pace with an RBI single by Biermann in the eighth to put the lead at 9-4 with an inning and a half to play.

Kitchen kept the score there, as the lefty pitched around a hit in both the eighth and ninth frames to seal the win for the Chants.

Coastal will play the loser of Saturday night’s game between No. 1 Georgia Tech and No. 4 Auburn on Sunday, June 2, at noon.

– Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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