MYRTLE BEACH Needing a breakthrough after a mostly frustrating couple of weeks, the Coastal Carolina baseball team made a run at upsetting No. 10-ranked N.C. State on Sunday while taking the Wolfpack to extra innings.
But in the end, it was still another loss for a young Coastal team trying to find its way through this early part of the season.
After a series of missed opportunities by both teams, N.C. State capitalized with the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning and held on from there to withstand Coastal’s upset bid with a 5-4 win in the finale of the Caravelle Resort Baseball at the Beach tournament inside TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
It was the 10th win in a row for N.C. State (10-1), while the Chants (4-6) lost for the fifth time in the last six games.
“We can’t accept losing here,” CCU coach Gary Gilmore said. “We had opportunities, so did they. Listen, that’s one of the most talented teams in the country. They’ve got four kids that are sophomores that are worth a whole lot of money, and they’re just very athletic. They’re position-player club is what ours was in 2010. It’s athletic up and down the lineup. They put pressure on you all the time. They’re pretty special in a couple spots, and I thought our kids did a great job competing. It’s probably as much as we’ve competed head-to-head all game long [this season] as I can remember.”
Coastal tied the game in the seventh inning, and from there the teams traded missed opportunities to keep the suspense going into the 10th inning. They’d end up leaving a combined 25 runners on base.
Freshman Anthony Marks led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk for the Chants, junior Jacob May followed with a single to centerfield and junior Colin Hering reached safely on a bunt as the Wolfpack opted unsuccessfully to try to get the out at second. With the bases loaded and no outs, the foundation had been set for a big rally as Coastal trailed 4-2 at the time.
Sophomore Will Remillard delivered an RBI single to left, and after senior Alex Buccilli grounded into a fielder’s choice out at the plate, junior Jake Kane drew a four-pitch bases-loaded walk to bring home another run and tie the game at 4-4.
But that’s all Coastal would get. After bunting foul and taking a called strike two, freshman Zach Remillard struck out and freshman Connor Owings grounded out to second to end the threat.
“We tried to get a safety squeeze down and just didn’t get it down,” Gilmore said. “If we do, we win. That’s kind of where we’re at right now -- we’re real close.”
Said Kane: “[It was] a little bitter because we were almost there and we just needed that one more. We knew the pitching was there to get it for us, but it kept us fired up. ... We knew that we had a chance and we kept it going, but we just couldn’t finish it off in the end.”
N.C. State then stranded the bases loaded in the eighth as senior reliever Ryan Connolly came in to get first-team preseason All-American Trea Turner to foul out and Brett Williams to strike out swinging.
Coastal followed by putting runners on first and third with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, but Will Remillard grounded out to short to end another Chants’ scoring opportunity.
Connolly struck out sophomore Carlos Rodon to strand a runner on second in the ninth, but the Wolfpack would eventually breakthrough against the steady senior reliever the following inning.
After striking out Jake Armstrong, Connolly walked Sam Morgan and hit Bryan Adametz to set the stage for Turner, who followed with an RBI single to left-center to make it 5-4. That’s all the Wolfpack would get, and it’s all they needed.
The game ended in the bottom of the 10th when Turner leapt to snag a line drive off the bat of Marks and then threw to first to double off sophomore pinch-runner Brian Pruett for the final out.
“You definitely take away that we’re good enough to compete with almost any team in the nation,” Kane said afterward. “It’s just the little mistakes we make toward the beginning of the game. If we take advantage of those opportunities and don’t make the mistakes we easily win that ballgame right there.”
Kane finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Coastal, while Will Remillard was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and May also picked up two hits. The Chants committed three errors in the field to help build a 4-1 deficit. Freshman Alex Cunningham took the no-decision after allowing seven hits and four unearned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Connolly allowed just one hit in 2 2/3 innings of relief while striking out four, but he took the loss to drop to 0-2 on the season.
Ryan Wilkins threw 3 2/3 hitless innings of relief for N.C. State to pick up his second win of the year, and Turner led the Wolfpack offensively with a 4-for-6 day at the plate.
Coastal returns to action Tuesday against Furman to start another busy week.
“We’re making progress. We’re getting better,” Gilmore said. “There are moments where it doesn’t look like it, but we’re getting better.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.