Some days, it seems everything just clicks.
Tyler Chadwick and Michael Paez each hit two home runs to pace the Coastal Carolina’s stellar day at the plate, leading the Chanticleers’ to a 17-5 win over Stetson on Friday.
Coastal Carolina hit six home runs in the game, tying a school record in the process.
“We’ve been preaching ‘win every pitch,’” said Paez, whose team was coming off an 11-2 win over Stetson the night before. “We’ve been chasing some low balls before this series, so coaches preach win every pitch. If we don't, [forget] it and keep going and put good swings on the ball. It's been flying out of here.”
Starting pitcher Alex Cunningham allowed two runs (one earned) in the first inning, but the Chants picked up its starter in the bottom half as they jumped on the Hatters for four runs to take command early. Coastal sent all nine batters in its lineup to the plate in the first frame for the second straight night.
“In the first inning, we went out and gave up two. So, we didn’t make a play here but what we’ve been talking about lately has been picking each other up and bouncing back from stuff,” Chadwick said. “Coming back, having good at-bats and putting up some runs was huge for us to settle back in, knowing we were going to play some Coastal baseball today.”
Chadwick has been on fire at the plate as of late, following up a three-hit, four RBI performance in the Chants’ win over Stetson on Thursday with another huge day Friday. Chadwick was 2-for-3 with six RBIs and hit two home runs – one of which was a grand slam.
Chadwick’s grand slam in the fourth went over the batter's eye in center field – the first player to ever do so at Springs Brooks Stadium – which stands 20 feet tall.
“When I first hit it, I didn't think it was out,” Chadwick said. “I looked up and the wind was blowing a little bit. It’s just nice to get back, putting good swings on balls.”
After Conway High product G.K. Young highlighted Coastal’s three-run second inning with a two-run homer, the Chanticleers exploded for eight runs in the fourth. Paez led off the inning with a solo blast and capped the frame with another homer, a three-run shot to give CCU a 15-2 lead.
Paez became the first Chanticleer to hit two home runs in one inning, tying an NCAA record held by many.
“That's when I feel like we finally buckled down and just kept on hitting,” Paez said of the eight-run fourth. “We didn't look at the score and say, ‘We're up by a lot.’ We just kept our foot on the gas and it felt good and everybody hit the ball well.”
Coastal finished with 17 hits and six homers Friday against the Stetson pitching staff, which has allowed just six long balls in 22 games prior to its series with the Chanticleers. However, the Hatters have given up eight home runs in just two contests against the Chanticleers, who hit two Thursday.
Stetson starter Brooks Wilson took the loss after giving up eight runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks across three innings.
“I knew coming into this series, with [Stetson’s] numbers and all the scouting stuff we dug up on them, that their pitching staff was going to be one our better challenges all year. I surely didn't expect anything remotely close to this,” CCU coach Gary Gilmore said. “Our kids have just been working on some things and getting a bit better, but that’s a quality team over there in that dugout.”
Cunningham followed a brilliant performance by Bobby Holmes, who made his first start and picked up his first win in a quality outing Thursday, by allowing three runs (two earned), six hits, one walk and added six strikeouts in seven quality innings for the victory.
Gilmore said he’s starting to feel more comfortable with his pitching staff.
“This is the first weekend all year that we had, what we thought was, our best three guys [on the mound],” Gilmore said, who expects Tyler Poole to start in Saturday's series finale with Stetson. “We thought Bobby was definitely one of our best arms, but really thought we’d have to use him at the back end of the bullpen. Mike Morrison has been so, very good that it has enabled us, at this point, to try and run Bobby out there as a starter. I think Bobby has the ability to be a good Friday night guy at some point in time in his career.
“We need Cunningham to be that guy, big time. Tomorrow will be a good start for Poole just to give us some consistency – we just haven’t had that the whole entire season – where, game after game, we get a good college start out of somebody. You know, give up two or three runs in six or seven innings and we’re competitive and give our offense a chance to actually be an offense.”