FLORENCE — The new catcher delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single. The rookie third baseman played sharp defense and knocked in a pivotal run. The newcomer in right field collected a couple of hits in his debut. And the hard-throwing freshman closer protected a narrow lead.
All in all, this first unveiling of Coastal Carolina’s retooled baseball team went pretty well for the Chanticleers.
With five newcomers in its starting lineup, Coastal outlasted James Madison for a 4-3 win in its season opener Friday, played at Francis Marion’s Sparrow Stadium.
“It’s great. They all had confidence,” junior center fielder Jacob May said of the new faces in the dugout. “They played well this fall and this spring, we all had confidence in their abilities and they played well.”
May got off to a hot start himself while going 2-for-4 with the go-ahead RBI, junior right fielder Colin Hering went 2-for-3 with a run scored in his first game with the Chants, sophomore catcher Will Remillard finished his first Coastal appearance with two big RBIs and freshman third baseman Zach Remillard went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Will Remillard, who sat out last season after transferring from Temple, made his impact early while putting the Chants ahead with a two-run bloop single with two outs in the bottom of the first.
“We preach two-out RBIs are what get you to Omaha, and that was a great thing to see him step up and get that done,” CCU coach Gary Gilmore said.
James Madison scored one in the third and then took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on back-to-back two-out RBI hits against junior right-hander Tyler Herb. The second of those was a liner to center field by Colby Roberts that seemed to fool May as it flew over his extended glove for a triple despite not being hit all that deep.
But the Chants wasted no time retaking control of the game. Hering smoked a single to center to lead off the bottom of the fourth, took second on a sac bunt by sophomore Brian Pruett and scored on a game-tying single to left-center by Zach Remillard. The rookie third baseman then stole second and came around to score the go-ahead run on a line single over the second baseman by May to make it 4-3.
“Never having a college at-bat and never playing in a college game, you get nervous,” Zach Remillard said. “You want to kick it off on the right foot. [There was] maybe a little added pressure, but I think it benefits you with staying focused.”
Coastal never trailed again after that point while weathering a couple late threats.
In the top of the seventh inning, sophomore right-handed reliever Patrick Corbett allowed back-to-back one-out singles to James Madison’s Ty McFarland and Matt Tenaglia. The runners soon advanced to second and third and Corbett then loaded the bases with an intentional walk of Cole McInturff to bring up a pinch-hitter, Conner Brown.
Down in the count 1-2, Brown laced an opposite-field flare to right that dropped just foul before Corbett later got him to pop up to end the inning.
Sophomore lefty Austin Kerr then ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth after an infield single and a four-pitch walk put runners on first and second with two outs, but he induced a pop out in foul territory to Remillard at third to end the inning.
James Madison kept the pressure on when McInturff made a diving catch on Pruett’s two-out liner to right to save two runs in the bottom of the eighth, but it didn’t matter as freshman righty Seth Lamando allowed only a harmless two-out single in the ninth on the way to his first career save.
“Oh man, it was a crazy feeling,” Lamando aid. “[Pitching coach Drew Thomas] telling me to go down to the pen in the sixth inning, I was starting to get pumped up from that. And toward the end of the game, last inning, I got the call to go out there and it was just adrenaline right away. It was the best feeling.”
That bullpen might well be the strength of this team – or at least that’s what Gilmore is banking on this season – and it did its job Friday after Herb was less than sharp in allowing seven hits, three walks and three earned runs in five innings.
Gilmore lamented that his pitchers yielded too many walks (six), weren’t as sharp as he’s seen them and if that two-out foul to right in the seventh had landed fair for James Madison, well, it would have been a different kind of day for the Chants. But that’s not how it played out, and a win is a win.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can relax a little bit and get a little better at that,” Gilmore said. “Today, first-game jitters, so chalk it up to that. The first game, you’re just glad to win. It doesn’t matter if it goes by a text book or not, so we’ll take it right now and hopefully get better.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.