One of the big unknowns about the Coastal Carolina baseball team entering this season was the offense and specifically how the Chanticleers would make up for losing four of their top six hitters from last year while dealing with injuries to a couple other key players.
As it turned out during the Chants season-opening series with Pittsburgh, though, the offense looks to be just fine its everything else that has head coach Gary Gilmore frustrated.
Coastal collected 12 hits in the series finale Sunday afternoon and salvaged an 8-5 win in a predetermined seven-inning game as the second part of a doubleheader at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
The win kept the Chants from an 0-3 start to the season after they lost 7-5 on Saturday and 10-6 in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader.
Id have to go back and look, in the 60 games we played last year I bet we didnt have 10 hits [in a game] 10 times. We had it basically three times in a row, so that to me is a great sign, Gilmore said. Hopefully this team is going to be offensive and we can do some stuff. Thatll be fun. Once we start catching the ball and pitching the way Coastal can pitch, well be fine.
Sophomore catcher Tyler Chadwick went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the win to finish the series 5-for-7, sophomore first baseman Richard Carter went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and freshman designated hitter G.K. Young had another big game, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs to match Chadwick for the team lead in that category with four.
We really needed the win there, honestly, Chadwick said. So many times we played so good and then so many times we just didnt play very well at all. I think if we can put together our A game or B game, well be pretty good all year.
Coastal (1-2) finished with 31 hits in the three-game series, and with defensive and bullpen struggles plaguing the team all weekend, the Chants needed all the offense they could get.
After building a 4-1 lead in the third inning of the finale Sunday on four straight two-out RBI singles from sophomore third baseman Zach Remillard, Young, Chadwick and Carter, Coastal soon found itself trailing again just a couple innings later.
Pittsburgh (2-1) pushed across four runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Matt Johnson reached on a throwing error by sophomore shortstop Nick Oberg to lead off the inning and took third on a fly out. Caleb Parry then walked, Dylan Wolsonovich reached on an error by Remillard at third as the first run of the inning came across, Stephen Vranka followed with a walk and that signaled the end of the day for Coastal freshman left-hander Dalton Moats.
Freshman Cole Schaefer entered the game with the bases loaded and promptly gave up a two-run game-tying single to Boo Vazquez, getting the quick hook in favor of sophomore Mike Morrison. Coastal had a chance to get out of the jam at that point, but it botched the start of a potential inning-ending double play, and a throwing error from Chadwick trying to nab a base stealer at second allowed Vranka to come across home plate as well to give the Panthers a 5-4 lead.
Weve got a million things to work on, Gilmore said. Not passing the bucket, but because of injuries to that infield, theyve been learning two and three positions and we were completely out of sync. It was embarrassing across the board, to be honest.
That big inning spoiled the collegiate debut of Moats, a touted newcomer who was a 33rd-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals last summer. He was ultimately charged with only one earned run (out of five he gave up) while yielding three hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 41/3 innings.
Coastal didnt stay down long, though.
Senior right fielder Colin Hering was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Remillard moved him forward with a sacrifice bunt and Young welcomed reliever Adam Dian into the game with an RBI bloop single to center. Chadwick followed with a line single and Carter drove the go-ahead run home with a bunt.
Then in the sixth, Chadwick delivered again, roping a two-out, two-run single through the right side to make it an 8-5 game and give the Chants some breathing room again.
Its nice. Im just trying to do what I can do to help [us] win, Chadwick said of his strong start. Holden [Cammack] is another good catcher, and they said were going to rotate a good bit, but whenever I get my chance Im going to try to help this team win as much as I can.
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Poole, a converted starter, made his first appearance as the Chants new closer and got three quick outs with two strikeouts to end the game. He looked to be throwing harder than he did last year as a starter and gave an encouraging debut in his new role.
We had a rough series top to bottom the first two games, and I just wanted to come in and make sure we didnt lose that last game, Poole said. We needed this game to carry some momentum into next weekend. We [didnt] want to come out of here with three losses because I know an 0-3 start is not what Coastal baseball is about. A 1-2 start is not either, but we just need to come back strong next weekend and show these other teams what were made of.
The win was big especially considering how the day started as the Chants committed four errors leading to six unearned runs in the first game of the doubleheader.
Weve got a lot of work to do, but confidence is such a big factor. In any sport, but especially in baseball, that mental thing can just eat you alive. We needed a win here really bad, Gilmore said. At the end of the day, there was good stuff [along with] a lot of bad. There were moments when we were very good, so well just keep working.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.