With Toledo and Coastal Carolina combining for 14 runs over the first three innings Monday, there was no indication the game was about to become a pitcher’s duel the rest of the way.
But that’s how it played out and the Chanticleer bullpen was up to the task while tossing six scoreless innings to protect an 8-6 win over the Rockets at Springs Brooks Stadium on the final day of the Coastal Carolina Invitational.
Junior right-hander Tyler Poole gave up one hit and one walk in 2 2/3 innings for his first win and sophomore righty Andrew Beckwith gave up two hits over the final 3 1/3 innings to earn his first save.
The Chants snapped a two-game skid with that win while improving to 10-6 and will return to the ballpark Tuesday to host nationally-ranked North Carolina.
“We just needed to get our confidence up. We should have won both those games, but it didn’t work out in our favor,” Beckwith said of shaking off losses to Michigan and Michigan State the previous two days. “We needed it bad because I think that will lift our spirits for tomorrow.”
Offensively, junior Anthony Marks went 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored, junior Tyler Chadwick was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two walks, sophomore Michael Paez went 2-for-4 with a run and sophomore G.K. Young was 1-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs as the Chants did all their damage early with four runs in the first and four in the second.
After giving up one run in the top of the first, Coastal Carolina tied it on a fielder’s choice groundout by junior David Parrett, scored again when Chadwick drew a bases loaded walk and then made it 4-1 on a two-run double by freshman Al Molina.
And the Chants quickly loaded the bases again in the second when Marks led off with a walk, Paez was hit by a pitch and junior Connor Owings walked to chase Toledo starter Alex Wagner from the game. He’d end up being charged with seven runs (four earned) in just an inning of work.
Kyle Rago came out of the Rockets’ bullpen and struck out Parrett, but Young followed with a two-run single through the right side and two batters later Chadwick lined a two-run single to center field to make it 8-1.
“I was hoping we were going to score like 17 again,” Chadwick said of matching the Chants’ output from Friday against Akron. “We were putting pressure on them, they were helping us out with a few walks and we were swinging the bats. And then we kept putting pressure on them; we just didn’t execute. We had second and third twice with no outs and didn’t score a run. I’m sure we’re about to get yelled at for that. We’ve just got to execute better.”
Because that left the door open for Toledo and soon enough the Rockets were right back in the game with a five-run top of the third.
Dan Zuchowski, Matt Hansen and Ryan Callahan ripped three straight singles to open the frame and AJ Montoya drew a bases-loaded walk. Chants sophomore starter Cole Schaefer bounced back with two outs before running into more trouble, and after the game coach Gary Gilmore lamented how that inning might have played out differently.
The first out came on a grounder to third as junior Zach Remillard initially thought about tagging the bag before just firing to the plate, thus negating the possibility for a double play. Schaefer followed with a strikeout, but Toledo countered with two-out singles from Jake Krupar, Jacob Britt and Nate Langhals to push four more runs across and make it an 8-6 game.
And suddenly, the pressure was back on the Coastal Carolina pitching staff.
Schaefer was charged with six earned runs, nine hits and a walk over three innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
Poole retired the Rockets in order in the fourth, worked around a lead-off single in the fifth and had a runner on second with two outs in the sixth when Beckwith came in to take the mound. He got Callahan to fly out to right to escape the inning and then allowed only one runner to reach scoring position over the final three innings.
Beckwith had come into the game with a 7.04 earned-run average in 7 2/3 innings before the encouraging performance.
“It was unbelievably good to see Beckwith [succeed]. That may have been the best I’ve ever seen him throw,” Gilmore said. “I knew they’d been working on it. I hadn’t seen him throw from up top like that, 89-90 miles per hour. That’s a huge jump for him. He was razor sharp today. We’ve been missing that guy.”
Gilmore remained frustrated by some of the little things the Chants didn’t do right and the fact that they had runners on second and third in the third, fourth and fifth and couldn’t put another run across.
But it’s a win nonetheless, and the players were ready to quickly turn their attention to their fifth game in five days as they return to Springs Brooks Stadium on Tuesday afternoon to host North Carolina, which is ranked No. 17 by Baseball America and as high as No. 11 in other national polls.
“We’re really excited,” Chadwick said. “We’ve showed up against big teams this year and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
Gilmore wasn’t sure who would get the start on the mound for the Chants in that game.
“It’s going to be who’s available. We did everything we could to try to hold back a piece or two and we just couldn’t do it,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ll do the best we can. Five games in five days is a challenge for any staff I’ve ever had. But the kids will come to play. For us, if we can just keep the ball in the park and be a little more offensive in key situations, we’ll be hanging around at the end.”