Trailing by five runs, the Coastal Carolina baseball team battled back.
However, the Chanticleers still came up short on Saturday.
Former Conway High School standout G.K. Young hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to cut Coastal’s deficit to one run, but Illinois’ Tyler Jay shut down the Chanticleers in the ninth inning to finish off a 5-4 Illini victory during Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach Tournament at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
“I thought [Illinois] pitched very well; they didn’t give us a whole lot to do offensively,” Coastal coach Gary Gilmore said. “Even though we struck out a lot of people, we walked too many. I personally thought we were horrible for five innings. After five, I thought we did a lot better. We started competing and gave ourselves a chance to win.
“Until we can get better, we’re not going to be competitive with good Division I teams. We just have to coach better, play better and the whole nine yards.”
Coastal fought back in the fifth inning, scoring two runs as Reid Moman drove in Richard Carter on a double and Moman scored after Anthony Marks reached on a fielding error by Reid Roper. The Chanticleers added another run in the seventh inning after Connor Owings doubled in Carter to cut Coastal’s deficit to two runs. “We did OK offensively, but I think this team can do better,” Gilmore said.
Jake Kane made his first appearance of the year for the Chanticleers, pinch hitting for Marks in the ninth inning. Kane drew a walk with two outs to keep the game alive. However, Owings grounded out to end the game.
As for the status of the second baseman?
“[Kane] still isn’t ready to be playing every day,” Gilmore said. “He’s hitting a little bit; we just wanted to see if he could get the bat on the ball.
Coastal starter Ben Smith allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks over four innings as he received his second consecutive loss to start the season 0-2.
Chase Adkins provided 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for Coastal, and Andrew Beckwith tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings out of the Chanticleers bullpen.
“At times our pitching was good,” Gilmore said. “At times it was not what we’re capable of doing.”
Illinois got on board early, scoring a run in the second inning after Will Krug drove in Jason Goldstein on a double. The Illini extended their lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning as Ryan Nagle drove in three runs on a double off Smith.
Coastal will try to bounce back as it hosts Wichita State at 2 p.m. at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
“We just have to get better,” Gilmore said.
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.