Junior third baseman Zach Remillard has gotten off to a slow start offensively for the Coastal Carolina baseball team this spring, but everything felt right for the veteran on one big swing in the fifth inning Sunday.
With the Chanticleers protecting a one-run lead against Bryant, Remillard crushed a two-out, three-run home run to give the hosts some much-needed cushion.
And Coastal Carolina finished it off from there for a 10-7 win to complete a sweep of the rain-shortened two-game series with the Bulldogs at Springs Brooks Stadium.
It was the fourth straight win for the Chants (13-6), who powered their way past Bryant (2-11) with three homers on the day as sophomore G.K. Young and junior David Parrett also left the yard – but perhaps none was more encouraging that Remillard’s blast.
“The whole team changes when he hits,” Chants coach Gary Gilmore said. “We’ve been waiting for him to get going and he had some good at-bats today so it’s very encouraging.”
Remillard entered the day batting .212 – lowest among Coastal Carolina’s regular starters – with just four extra-base hits in 66 at-bats. His nine RBIs coming into the game ranked eighth on the team.
But he matched a third of his season production in that regard with that one swing Sunday.
The Chants had opened the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back walks from sophomore Michael Paez and junior Connor Owings before Young struck out looking and junior Casey Schroeder popped out. So it was up to Remillard to salvage the once-promising inning, and he put a smooth swing on the offering from reliever Logan Lessard and then watched from the base line as it easily cleared the left field wall to make it a 7-3 game.
“It felt pretty good. I knew it was a matter of time,” Remillard said. “I got into a count where there was guys in scoring position, [I] expected a breaking ball and I saw it well and just got the barrel to it and the end result was good.”
Remillard, who spent the offseason recovering from Tommy John surgery, has been working to fix some mechanical flaws in his swing as a result of the injury, Gilmore said, as well improving his pitch selection.
And he picked a great time Sunday to put it all together.
“[Those runs] felt pretty big because it kind of secured our lead again and we could just go back to playing solid defense and having a good amount of confidence knowing that we’d win the game,” Remillard said.
Young had smacked a two-run homer in the first off the top of the wall in left-center as Coastal Carolina scored three times in the first frame for an early lead.
And Parrett tacked on a solo shot in the sixth and added a two-run single in the seventh to further widen the lead.
It was the fourth homer of the season for Parrett, who finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and the third for Young. Remillard was the only other Coastal Carolina batter with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 with his three RBIs.
The Chants will hope it’s a sign of things to come after Remillard batted .259 with 12 doubles, three homers and tied for second on the team with 32 RBIs last year despite playing through the elbow pain.
“When your mind starts getting real fast on you it’s amazing how many things, just minor things, but they keep you from being successful,” Gilmore said. “He’s been snake-bit at certain times where he’s hit the ball really hard. When you don’t do that a lot and those get caught, it messes with your head.”
Freshman right-hander Zack Hopeck (2-0) earned the win while allowing one run, two hits and two walks in three innings along with five strikeouts. He snapped his streak of consecutive batters faced without a walk at 68 after issuing a free pass in the second inning.
Junior reliever Tyler Poole ran into trouble after taking the mound in the fifth. Following an opening strikeout, he yielded a single to Matt Albanese and back-to-back walks to John Mullen and Cole Fabio to load the bases with one out.
That suspense was short-lived, though, as senior Austin Kerr came out of the bullpen and induced Robby Rinn to ground out to first. The Chants weren’t able to complete the double play as a run scored, but they picked up one out and Kerr then got Buck McCarthy to fly out to center to end the threat and the inning.
And Remillard’s three-run shot in the bottom of the frame helped put the game away.
Bryant later scored four times in the eighth, aided by errors from Remillard and Owings, but the Bulldogs had simply dug too deep of a hole at that point.
Coastal Carolina returns to action Tuesday night at home against Clemson as the Tigers visit Conway for the first time since 1994.
The Chants will look to keep their strong start and their active winning streak rolling. Despite the success, though, Gilmore still thinks his team needs to be sharper moving forward.
“It feels good,” Gilmore said of building some momentum. “Parts of it made me feel like we got beat [today] because the runs they got early were all via walk or hit batters and in the four-run inning we don’t make two plays at third we should make, we drop a fly ball and we kick a ball and don’t hustle after it. That’ll be my speech. That’s not going to get it done. We’ve got to be better than that.”