Hopeck hurls Coastal past UNCW in top 20 matchup

ccubase-hopeckZack Hopeck retired the last 14 batters he faced over4 2/3 innings and G.K. Young hit his Big South-best 15th home run of the season to lead #20 Coastal Carolina to a 4-1 victory over region rival and 13th-ranked UNC Wilmington Tuesday evening at Springs Brooks Stadium.

The Chanticleers improve to 37-15 overall while the Seahawks fall to 35-14. Coastal will conclude the 2016 regular season with home games versus Campbell on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As part of Fan Appreciation Day, admission to Saturday’s contest will be free.

Hopeck only allowed two hits – one in the first inning and one in the second – and pitched six scoreless innings as he turned in his best career performance to improve to 2-2 on the season. The sophomore tied a career high by pitching six innings and tied a career high with five strike outs. However, it was the first time he had accomplished either without allowing a run or a walk. In fact, in two starts versus the Seahawks this season, Hopeck has pitched 9.0 innings, allowed five hits, one run and one walk with seven strikeouts.

In addition to having two starts versus UNCW, Hopeck has been called upon to start against the College of Charleston twice, The Citadel, South Carolina and North Carolina with CCU posting a 5-2 record in his seven starts.

While closer Mike Morrison allowed UNCW’s lone run, he picked up his sixth save of the season as he worked the final three innings. The senior tied a career high with seven strikeouts. He allowed two hits and two walks in his first inning of work to give UNCW its tally in the sixth. He did strikeout six of the last nine batters he faced.

In 45.0 innings this season (24 appearances), Morrison has 65 strikeouts and 45 (69.2 percent) have been swinging.

Coastal got on the board with three runs in the second. Young (2-for-4 with two RBI) started the frame with blast to right field. Billy Cooke and Tyler Chadwick followed with singles. CCU loaded the bases when Seth Lancaster reached on an error. David Parrett’s deep fly ball to left was good enough to score Cooke. Two batters later, Michael Paez lined a single off third base which brought Chadwick home from second base

The Chanticleers manufactured a run in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead. Connor Owings drew a leadoff walk, stole second, advanced to third on a Zach Remillard fly out and scored on a RBI ground out by Young.

UNC Wilmington got on the scoreboard in the seventh inning. Gavin Stupienski hit a leadoff double and, after a strikeout, Daniel Stack and Andy Austin walked to load the bases. Zack Canada hit an 0-2 pitch to center field to score Stupienski and keep the bases loaded. However, Morrison regrouped to get a pair of Seahawks swinging for strikeouts.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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