Coastal Carolina falls to Illinois

From Coastal Carolina University

CONWAY, S.C. – Illinois (2-6) scored three runs in the top of the ninth to defeat the seventh-ranked Coastal Carolina University baseball team (12-2) 11-10 March 12 in game two of the Caravelle Resort Classic in Conway, S.C.  Coastal had as much as a 7-2 lead early, but gave up eight runs in the final four innings.

Illinois scored two runs in the first off junior Cody Wheeler.  Michael Giller reached on an error by sophomore Taylor Motter with one out.  Aaron Johnson then reached on an infield single, moving Giller to second.  Matt Dittman would score both runners on a double to the left field gap.  Coastal would quickly answer with six runs in the bottom of the first.  Junior Rico Noel doubled to lead off the frame.  He went to third on a flyout from redshirt-sophomore Tommy La Stella and trotted home on senior Jose Iglesias' third home run of the season.  Senior Adam Rice then struck out, but reached on a passed ball.  Rice moved to third on a double from sophomore Daniel Bowman and both runners scored on a double from redshirt-senior Chance Gilmore.  Gilmore would steal third and score on a throwing error by Johnson.  Motter and classmate Steve Davis then hit back-to-back doubles to make it 6-2 Chants.

In the third, Gilmore singled with one out and went to third on a Motter single.  Davis then brought in a run with a sacrifice bunt to first base, making it 7-2.

Illinois would cut the lead to 7-3 in the fourth as Brandon Hohl's groundout scored Dittman, but the Chants got the run back in the bottom of the frame as Bowman's single to left scored LaStella.

In the top of the sixth, Dittman led off the inning with a double to right.  He quickly scored on a Casey McMurray double.  Hohl singled to center with one out to score McMurray, making it 8-5 Coastal.

In the top of the seventh, freshman Ryan Connolly came in and hit Cummins to open the frame.  Giller then singled to right, moving Cummins to third.  Connolly would get Johnson to pop out and the Chants brought in junior Matt Laney.  Laney struck out Dittman and freshman Josh Conway came in the game.  Conway would be greeted rudely by McMurray, whose three-run home run to left tied the game at eight.

Coastal would answer with two runs in the eighth to take a 10-8 lead.  Davis led off the inning with a double.  He went to third on an error by Dittman off the bat of junior Scott Woodward.  Davis scored on a wild pitch and Woodward scored on a double from Noel.

Redshirt-senior Austin Fleet came in for the Chants in the ninth and hit Giller to start the inning.  Giller moved to second on a Johnson single.  Dittman loaded the bases with a Texas League single to left.  McMurray would bring in a run with a sacrifice fly and Willie Argo would tie the game with a single that scored pinch runner Davis Hendrickson.  Fleet would get Hohl to pop out for the second out, but Craig Lutes singled to left center to score Dittma to give the Fighting Illini the 11-10 lead.

Coastal would get two runners on in the bottom of the ninth as Mike Sterk hit Bowman and a Josh Parr error put runners on first and second.  Motter would hit into a fielder's choice and Davis grounded out to the pitcher to end the game.

Fleet took the loss for Coastal, giving up four hits and three runs in an inning of work.  Wheeler struck out six and gave up nine hit and four earned runs in six innings.  The win went to Sterk, who allowed just a hit in two innings of relief.  Brian de la Torriente started for Illinois and did not last through the first.  He gave up five hits and five earned runs in a third of an inning.  Kevin Manson came in and allowed just two runs in 5.2 innings of relief.

Six Chants had two hits apiece, while Iglesias, Gilmore and Davis drove in a pair.  For Illinois, Dittman was 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI, while Hohl went 3-for-5 with two RBI.

Coastal Carolina will have two games in the Caravelle Resort Classic Saturday, March 13.  The Chants face Michigan at 2:30 p.m., and Illinois at 6 p.m., at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field.