Coastal Carolina

CCU Matchup Preview: Chanticleers travel to GT for pivotal series

Coastal Carolina players Anthony Marks (29) and Michael Paez (1) celebrate after Paez’s two run homer against Gardner-Webb during a game a few weeks ago.
Coastal Carolina players Anthony Marks (29) and Michael Paez (1) celebrate after Paez’s two run homer against Gardner-Webb during a game a few weeks ago. For The Sun News

Fans of the Coastal Carolina baseball program may have noticed this week the various projections that suggest the Chanticleers could host an NCAA regional and even earn a top-eight national seed.

There’s no doubt the Chants have earned their way onto the national radar with their 31-11 start – including wins in 18 of their last 20 games – and rankings ranging from No. 13 to No. 22 in the various polls.

And that’s all well and good, but if Coastal Carolina is going to indeed bring an NCAA regional to Springs Brooks Stadium then the Chants are going to have to continue at this pace for another month.

That includes their three-game series this weekend at Georgia Tech, which is ranked No. 25 in two national polls.

The Yellow Jackets enter the series, which starts Friday night at 7 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium, with a 27-14 record and one of the best lineups in the ACC.

Here’s a breakdown of the matchup and what to expect:

Hitters to Watch

Coastal Carolina senior Connor Owings: The Big South Player of the Year candidate has eight home runs in his last 14 games with 20 runs scored and 20 RBIs in that span and just recently had an 18-game hitting streak snapped. He’s batting .399 overall with 11 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 38 RBIs with a .491 on-base percentage.

Georgia Tech junior Connor Justus: The standout shortstop is batting a team-best .381 with a phenomenal .497 on-base percentage and has 14 doubles, three triples, five homers, 30 RBIs and 42 runs scored this season.

Georgia Tech sophomore Trevor Craport: The Yellow Jackets’ hottest hitter has a team-best seven-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting .517 (15-of-29) with a home run and nine RBIs.

Coastal Carolina junior G.K. Young: The designated hitter is batting .353 with 10 homers and a team-best 45 RBIs.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: CCU RHP Alex Cunningham (6-2, 4.10 ERA) vs. GT RHP Brandon Gold (4-2, 2.52)

Saturday: CCU RHP Bobby Holmes (4-1, 5.21) vs. GT TBA

Sunday: CCU TBA vs. GT RHP Jack Lee (2-0, 5.33)

By The Numbers

.323: Coastal Carolina’s team batting average over the last 20 games.

2.31: The Chants’ collective earned-run average during that same span.

1: Georgia Tech ranks first in the ACC in hits (462), doubles (96) and home runs (39).

14-2: The only team in Division I with a better April record than the Chants’ 14-2 mark is Bryant at 16-2.

33.0: Senior closer Mike Morrison and junior Andrew Beckwith each have gone 33.0 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. They are tied for third nationally in that statistic behind only Pepperdine’s A.J. Puckett (54 2/3 straight scoreless innings) and Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson (33 2/3).

53: Coastal Carolina is tied for third nationally with 55 home runs this season.

Series History

Georgia Tech is 15-7 all-time against Coastal Carolina, but the Chants have won the last three meetings – including a 7-5 win at home last season.

Interestingly, Coastal Carolina ranks ninth in most wins in the NCAA since 2000 with 702 while Georgia Tech ranks 10th at 697.

About Those Projections

Earlier this week Baseball America projected the Chants as a No. 8 national seed, hosting Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Virginia Commonwealth in a Conway regional.

Meanwhile, D1Baseball.com also had Coastal Carolina hosting an NCAA regional with VCU, Clemson and College of Charleston coming to Conway.

For what it’s worth ...

Watch/Listen

The series opener Friday starts at 7 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium while the teams play at 4 on Saturday and at 1 on Sunday.

All three games will be available online at ESPN3.com, and can be heard locally on WSEA-FM 100.3.

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