G.K. Young has hit plenty of home runs in his three seasons at Coastal Carolina, but even he had to take a moment to appreciate the one he smacked Saturday.
The Chanticleers had trailed most of the game before tying it up in the seventh inning, and if the momentum hadn’t already swung in their favor Young made sure of it while leading off the eighth with a titanic shot out of the ballpark to right field.
He punctuated the homer – his team-leading ninth of the season – with an emphatic bat toss while watching the ball sail over the visitor’s bullpen, the boardwalk and into the parking lot as Coastal Carolina went ahead for good on the way to a 4-2 win over Presbyterian before 1,407 fans at Springs Brooks Stadium.
“It was all in the moment. I don’t hardly ever do anything like that,” Young said of celebrating his momentous shot. “You dream of doing that your whole life, come up in the eighth inning [after] tying it up and you hit a monster home run like that. It was just indescribable, a great feeling.”
It was Young’s third straight game with a homer and matched his career high after also hitting nine last season. Connor Owings then followed two batters later with his seventh homer of the year to stretch his hitting streak to 15 games, and closer Mike Morrison did the rest as the Chants (26-10, 10-1 Big South) won for the 13th time in the last 14 games.
“I don’t want to blink right now, but it’s been a blast,” Young said of his power surge this week.
The stage was set for his dramatic homer as the Chants battled back from a 2-0 deficit after Presbyterian (18-16, 5-6) scored in the second and fourth innings.
We have confidence in everybody in our lineup. We love each other and we have no doubt that the guy behind us is going to pick us up. We preach that every day, that if you mess up the guy behind you is going to pick you up, and time and time again this team does that. That’s huge for us.
CCU designated hitter G.K. Young
The game had started inauspiciously for Coastal Carolina as starter Bobby Holmes broke open the middle finger on his pitching hand where he had previously lost part of his fingernail and needed attention in the dugout to seal it closed during the top of the first inning.
“The first pitch of the game that thing started busting open bleeding. It’s not easy to be a slider ball guy with that finger. I’m sure it doesn’t feel very good, but he fought through that,” coach Gary Gilmore said.
Indeed, Holmes was very effective for the Chants while giving up just two runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings. He struck out six while taking a no-decision.
The Coastal Carolina bats, meanwhile, started chipping away at Presbyterian’s lead when Seth Lancaster clubbed his third homer of the season to make it a 2-1 game in the fifth inning.
In the seventh, Billy Cooke hit a one-out double down the left-field line to chase Presbyterian starter Tanner Chock from the game. After Lancaster grounded out against reliever Aaron Lesiak, Matt Beaird came through with a two-out RBI single to right to tie the game at 2-2.
“That was big, definitely,” said Beaird, the Chants’ nine-hole hitter. “Seth, he’s the guy right there in that spot, but he grounded out and he gave me a tip on the way back and I just looked for a pitch to hit and got one. His motion was just a little bit fast and he came in with a fastball.”
Said Young: “We have confidence in everybody in our lineup. We love each other and we have no doubt that the guy behind us is going to pick us up. We preach that every day, that if you mess up the guy behind you is going to pick you up, and time and time again this team does that. That’s huge for us.”
To that point, Morrison has been picking up the Chants all season long and came through in a key spot again Saturday.
The senior closer came on in the top of the eighth inning, inheriting runners on first and second with one out, and promptly got Presbyterian cleanup hitter Peter Johnson to hit it back to the mound. He fielded the ball, spun and bounced his throw to second base, but shortstop Michael Paez fielded it cleanly and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Morrison then struck out the side in the ninth to earn the win and improve to 5-0 while dropping his earned-run average to 0.51.
“He’s been incredible all year long,” Gilmore said. “There’s not a kid in the entire country that deserves it more than him. He has worked so hard to get himself to where he’s at between health and mechanics and things like that. He’d show you flashes in the past, and Coach [Drew] Thomas has done a fantastic job with him. He’s our guy. He’s been unbelievable.”
Chock was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision for the Blue Hose while reliever Colton Springs (1-2) took the loss after giving up the decisive homers to Young and Owings.
“This was a very good win,” Gilmore said. “Their kid Chock, I thought he threw very well. I’m down there shaking my head the whole game. For the most part [he threw] 90 percent fastballs and he was just beating us over and over and over. I tip my hat to him. ... That hit by Matty Beaird to tie the game up really changed the momentum of the game.
“We’re just happy to be here saying that we won. It was a tightly-fought game.”
Right-hander Tyler Poole (4-2, 3.38 ERA) will start the series finale Sunday at 2 p.m. for the Chants while Presbyterian is slated to throw righty David Sauer (3-2, 5.30).
Who | Presbyterian at Coastal Carolina
Where | Springs Brooks Stadium, Conway
When | 2 p.m. Sunday
Radio | WSEA-FM 100.3