A day after spotting Gardner-Webb three early runs before slugging its way to victory, the Coastal Carolina baseball team used the same script with a few minor tweaks Saturday.
This time the Chanticleers let the Runnin’ Bulldogs take an early four-run lead, but once again it wouldn’t matter.
The Chants ended up scoring in all but one inning while rolling to a 10-4 win before a crowd of 1,431 at Springs Brooks Stadium.
That makes six straight wins for Coastal Carolina (19-9, 4-1 Big South) and 12 wins in the last 14 games.
“[Pitching coach Drew] Thomas has been doing some videos with us. It’s all about having a chain, letting it bend but don’t break,” second baseman Seth Lancaster said. “They came out and scored early. We didn’t worry about it, we knew Bobby [Holmes] was going to compete for us and do what he does. That’s what he’s going to do every time he goes out there. And we knew we could hit. We’ve been swinging it well the past couple of games, weeks.”
Zach Remillard went 3-for-5 with an RBI and run Saturday, Lancaster finished 2-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored, Tyler Chadwick was 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs, G.K. Young was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run and Matt Beaird went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Chants have now collected 30 hits and 26 runs through the first two games of this three-game series with the Runnin’ Bulldogs (21-9, 2-3).
“Even though we got down early, we all know they’re going to wake up the bats and get us runs and support us like they do every other game,” reliever Austin Kitchen said of the offensive support.
However, Gardner-Webb was up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the second before the Chants started chipping away.
Chadwick delivered his fifth homer of the season for the first run and Coastal Carolina drove in three more in the third to tie the game. After Lancaster led off with a double, Beaird dropped down a perfect bunt and Gardner-Webb starter Jeremy Walker threw wildly to first to let in the first run of the inning. Beaird later scored on a wild pitch, Michael Paez singled and two batters later Remillard crushed a line drive double off the wall in left to tie it up.
And the Chants were just getting started.
Even though we got down early, we all know they’re going to wake up the bats and get us runs and support us like they do every other game.
CCU reliever Austin Kitchen
Marks slapped an opposite-field RBI single in the fourth to give the hosts a 5-4 lead and Chadwick delivered an RBI double in the fifth to make it 6-4.
Holmes, who gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, exited the game in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded and one out while giving way to Kitchen.
The rookie left-hander has become one of the Chants’ most trusted relievers and he came through again, getting pinch-hitter Jacob Walker to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
“I’ve been in that position before and Coach Thomas always says, ‘Damage control.’ I knew if I hit my spots, made pitches, the defense would pick me up and Paez and Seth did,” Kitchen said.
Said coach Gary Gilmore: “The play of the game was Kitchen getting the double-play ball with the bases loaded. … That was the turning point in the game as far as us being able to win. A base hit or two right there and it’s either tied or they’re ahead. It was a huge point in the game and he did a great job for the time he was in there.”
Kitchen went 2 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just a lone walk. The freshman from Pittsburgh now has a 1.69 earned-run average over 16 innings with a sterling 16-to-3 strikeout-to-walk tally.
“No doubt he’s exceeded what I thought he would give us this year,” Gilmore said. “I thought he’d be a left-on-left only guy. What’s separated him from several of the guys over there is his pitchability. He’s able to throw three pitches for strikes and command his fastball. That kid has got a chance to have a fantastic career here.”
The Coastal Carolina offense, meanwhile, wasn’t close to being done.
In the bottom of the sixth Lancaster clubbed a solo homer – his second of the season – to center field, becoming just the second Chant to hit one over the 20-foot wall out there in the two years the stadium has been open after Chadwick did it last week.
“I hit it and I was hoping to hit it off the wall. I was lucky enough the wind was blowing, got lucky and timed it up real well,” Lancaster said. “It was our seventh run. We always talk about getting seven. Seven is our big number. We win, I think it’s over 90 percent of the time when we score seven.”
Young scored on a wild pitch in the seventh and then delivered a two-run double in the eighth to cap the scoring.
Walker (4-3) took the loss for Gardner-Webb, giving up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks over six innings. Holmes (3-1) got credit for the win for Coastal Carolina.
“It was good to watch us compete and from the very beginning of the game it was an uphill battle against one of the very best arms we’ve seen,” Gilmore said. “He was very good for four innings, especially the first two he was really, really good. It always takes just a little bit of a crack to be able to expose it if we do what we’re capable of. We got a crack here and a crack there and you look at the scoreboard, [we were] able to tally one here, one there. …
“The offensive guys are up there with a relentless attitude. They’re grinding out every strike, competing.”
▪ Beaird, the Chants’ sophomore catcher, is 7-for-12 over his last four games with three multi-hit games in that stretch to raise his batting average from .139 to .250.
▪ Senior closer Mike Morrison pitched a scoreless ninth Saturday and has not given up a run in his last 21 1/3 innings while totaling 33 strikeouts in that stretch and allowing seven hits and seven walks. His ERAis down to 0.68.
▪ Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa is scheduled to throw out the first pitch prior to the Chants’ 2 p.m. series finale Sunday.
Who: Gardner-Webb at Coastal Carolina
Where: Springs Brooks Stadium, Conway
When: 2 p.m.
Radio: WSEA-FM 100.3