Coastal’s late rally falls shy in baseball opener vs. Pitt

ccubase-Ben-SmithCoastal Carolina’s ninth-inning rally came up short as Pittsburgh was able to hold on for a 7-5 victory over the Chanticleers Saturday in the two teams’ 2014 season opener at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Despite being out-hit 10-5, Pitt was opportunistic in scoring its seven runs, taking advantage of three CCU errors to score four unearned runs. Connor Owings led Coastal’s offense with three hits, while Colin Hering, Zach Remillard and G.K. Young each added two hits.

Ben Smith (0-1) struck out 11 through 4.2 for the Chanticleers but walked four to leave the game with runners on first and third with two out in the fifth. Casey Roche welcomed new CCU pitcher Seth Lamando with an infield single, scoring Manny Pazos on the play for an 1-0 Panther lead.

In the sixth, Jordan Frabasilio had a leadoff single and Eric Hess was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up 90 feet, Pazos delivered a sacrifice fly to center field for a 2-0 lead.

Coastal answered in the home half of the sixth. Hering singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a passed ball. Young reached on an error but was credited with his first collegiate RBI to cut the CCU deficit in half, 2-1.

The Panthers took advantage of a CCU error to push its advantage to 5-1 in the seventh. Stephen Vranka drew a leadoff walk and Boo Vazquez reached on an error. After a sacrifice bunt, Steven Shelinsky, Jr. brought home Vranka with a sacrifice fly. Frabasilio followed with a two-run home run down the left field line.

Coastal added a run in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch hitter Tyler Chadwick started the home half with his first career triple. Anthony Marks followed with an RBI ground out. The Chants trimmed their advantage to two in the bottom of the eighth. Remillard doubled and reached third on a passed ball. Two batters later, Young came through with a sacrifice fly to center to make the score 5-3.

Pitt took advantage of a double, walk and CCU error to go up 7-3 in the top of the ninth. Vazquez lined a double to right and, two batters later, Shelinsky walked. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third. Then, with two outs, Hess singled to left field to plate Vazquez. An error on the play allowed Shelinsky to score.

Coastal brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but came up short. With two outs in the ninth, Owings doubled and Micheal Paez walked. Hering and Remillard each hit RBI singles to make the score 7-5. Pinch hitter Richard Carter’s drive to right center field was tracked down by Roche to end the contest.

Matt Wotherspoon (1-0) picked up the win, allowing four hits, three walks and one unearned run over 5.1 innings. Joseph Harvey earned the save.

This was just the second home-opening loss for CCU head coach Gary Gilmore in his 19th season with the Chants and CCU falls to 15-4 in season openers during Gilmore’s tenure. In addition, Coastal had won its last eight season openers and each of its last 15 home openers prior to tonight loss to the Panthers.

Coastal Carolina and Pitt will return to action for a Sunday doubleheader. First pitch is set for 11 am.

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