The Coastal Carolina baseball team was in control for much of Sunday’s contest with Michigan State.
But the Spartans made a charge in the final frame.
Michigan State scored two runs in the ninth, and Coastal was held hitless in the bottom half of the inning as the Spartans eked out a 5-4 victory Sunday over the Chanticleers during the Coastal Carolina Invitational at Springs Brooks Stadium.
“They did what they had to do,” said Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore, whose team was coming off a loss to Michigan on Saturday. “They got hits, walks and scored runs. They scored two in the ninth and beat us.”
Catcher Chad Roskelly hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to cut Michigan State’s deficit to 1, and the Spartans made their push in the ninth.
Roskelly drew a lead-off walk in the final frame and after a sacrifice bunt, pinch hitter Brandon Hughes got an RBI single to tie it at 5-all. Hughes then stole second and after a throwing error by catcher Casey Schroeder, he advanced to third to set up the potential game-winning run. Center fielder Anthony Cheky then hit a ground ball to first baseman Tyler Chadwick, who opted to tag first, leaving it too late to throw home as Hughes had scored on the play.
In the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitter Jack Curtis struck out looking, Connor Owings flied out to left field and Michael Paez flew out to left field as the Spartans (6-7) shut the door.
Coastal (9-6) had the bases loaded in the eighth inning with two outs, but junior center fielder Anthony Marks struck out swinging.
“We had opportunities here and there. One at-bat, one hit away,” Gilmore said. “You have to tip your hat, though; they got a big hit when they had to. [They] pulled a guy off the bench and he gets a big hit; that doesn’t happen all the time. We ran [starter Zack] Hopeck out there in the seventh inning and that kid hit the home run. That was a good swing of the bat that got them closer and made it a tough lead to try and hold on to.”
Hopeck (1-0) scattered seven hits, walked none, struck out two and allowed four earned runs in six-plus innings of work for a no-decision.
Mike Morrison (1-1) received the loss as he allowed two runs (one earned) on one hit and three walks in one inning.
Shane Sawczak (1 1/3 innings) and Bobby Holmes (2/3 innings) allowed just one hit each out of the bullpen.
“Hopeck gave us a chance to win, that’s all I can ask out of that young man,” Gilmore said. “The bullpen guys did a good job, but that’s the first time all year Mike has let us down. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to, but the walks killed us; it gave them an opportunity. [That was] the difference in the game at the end.”
Marks had a two-run double and left fielder Al Molina had an RBI double to give Coastal a quick 3-0 advantage in the bottom of the second inning. After Michigan State countered with three runs in the third, David Parrett hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to give the Chanticleers a 5-3 advantage.
Casey Schroeder was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and drew two walks, and former Conway High School standout G.K. Young had a single and scored a run for Coastal.
“Molina got a big hit, Marks got a big hit [but] it’s just not enough,” Gilmore said. “It isn’t enough. The offense is very frustrating at this point. [There are] just not enough guys constantly putting good swings on [the ball] and [getting] good at-bats; we have one here, one there. It’s just kind of a stagnated offense, really; I’m not quite sure how to fix it.”
Gilmore and the Chanticleers will have a shot to bounce back as they host Toledo on Monday at 4 p.m.
“It’s a real hard stretch for us right now,” Gilmore said. “We’re not very good offensively and we struggle. The less we have home runs … we struggle to create an offense. That part is frustrating and you start finding ways to lose. Hopefully we’ll have someone pitch for us halfway decent tomorrow, keep us in the game and see if we can score some runs.”