Back in the preseason when expectations for this Coastal Carolina baseball team were as high as they’ve been in years, that brimming optimism, the visions for a potentially special spring had to look pretty close to this.
The Chanticleers scored the final nine runs Sunday to finish off a 12-3 win over Presbyterian and complete a three-game sweep before a crowd of 1,400 at Springs Brooks Stadium.
The Chants’ power brigade continued to do its thing as Zach Remillard and Connor Owings highlighted the offensive performance with home runs, the pitching was solid and all told Coastal Carolina (27-10, 11-1 Big South) has now won seven straight games and 14 of its last 15.
“It’s still early in the sense that we have a lot of baseball to play, but it’s awesome to see how far we’ve come,” Remillard said. “But we also have a lot of growing to do.”
The Chants sent 21 batters to the plate over the sixth and seventh innings while totaling nine runs over those two frames to break open what had been a tied game with the Blue Hose (18-17, 5-7).
Remillard’s three-run homer to right in the seventh was his ninth of the season and tied him for the team lead.
Owings, meanwhile, homered for the third straight game, leaving the park with a solo shot to right in the fifth inning for his eighth of the year. During his current 16-game hit streak, he is batting an even .500 (28-of-56) with five homers.
“He doesn’t even need to go to sleep or pinch himself. I hope he doesn’t wake up till about the end of June,” Chants coach Gary Gilmore said.
The same could be said for the Chants as a whole.
They’ve asserted themselves as the team to beat in their final season in the Big South, while looking for their first conference championship since 2012. They were ranked No. 19 (PerfectGame.org) and No. 22 (Collegiate Baseball) this past week and should be receiving strong consideration for inclusion in the other national polls.
And, well, they’re just a fun team to watch at this point.
“It’s very impressive in a lot of ways,” Gilmore said. “I was really, really, really glad to see Tyler Poole have such a great outing for us and then for [Jason] Bilous to come in, I thought he looked great. He really was throwing well. That’s obviously a good sign to be confident that he can go out there and do some of that and just try to keep building on it each and every time we go out there.”
Poole, the Chants’ senior right-hander, had held the Blue Hose to one unearned run through five innings before having a batter reach on an infield error to lead off the sixth and later issuing a two-out walk.
That was the end of his day, and reliever Andrew Beckwith allowed both inherited runners to score on a two-run double by Peter Johnson to tie the game at 3.
Poole ended up with a no-decision after giving up just two hits, four walks and three unearned runs while racking up a career-high eight strikeouts.
Beckwith (5-1), who has mostly been lights-out for the Chants this season, ended up picking up the win while throwing 1 1/3 innings of relief. As no runs were charged to him, he officially extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings over his last eight appearance.
Bilous, the team’s prized freshman righty who has struggled with his command while seeing limited opportunities of late, notched two strikeouts in his only inning of work.
The story of the game, though, was the offense.
Tied 3-all entering the bottom of the sixth, Seth Lancaster drew a leadoff walk, David Parrett laid down a bunt and reached on a throwing error by the pitcher and two batters later Michael Paez was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Lancaster would score on a wild pitch, G.K. Young followed with a two-run double to right and eventually scored on a wild pitch and Owings would later single and score in the five-run inning.
In the seventh, Anthony Marks led off with a double, Young drew a walk two batters later and Remillard homered to the opposite field. Cameron Pearcey tacked on an RBI sacrifice fly later in the inning to cap the scoring.
Paez finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Young was 1-for-2 with three runs and two RBIs.
“We just hadn’t had an opportunity to put some pressure on them [until that outburst],” Owings said. “Seth draws a leadoff walk, Dave lays down a great bunt and they throw it away. And then they go to their best guy out of the bullpen, he just didn’t have it today, so that was fortunate for us.”
Said Gilmore: “It was huge to come in and get some runs. They helped us a little bit in a couple situations, and for us Tuesday and Wednesday we won’t get much of that so we’ll have to be really locked in. And I think our guys will be focused for those games.”
The Chants have a big week ahead with a road game at North Carolina on Tuesday, a home game with College of Charleston on Wednesday and then a three-game home series with Big South contender High Point next weekend.
“It’s just big to stick with the process,” Remillard said. “Every game’s a big game, and we’re not playing anyone else but ourselves. We’re going to execute our game and whatever happens happens.”
▪ Freshman catcher Peyton Isaacson pitched the ninth inning for Coastal Carolina, allowing two hits and notching a strikeout in a scoreless frame.
▪ The Chants are now 9-0 on Sundays.