CONWAY, S.C. – The 10th-ranked Coastal Carolina University baseball team (19-3) scored seven runs in the fifth inning and used six strong innings on the mound from junior Cody Wheeler to defeat San Diego (12-11) 10-2 March 26 in Conway, S.C.
The Chants got things going on their second pitch of the game as junior Rico Noel belted a home run to left field to give Coastal an early 1-0 lead. The game then turned into a pitcher's duel between Wheeler and San Diego's Kyle Blair. San Diego would threaten in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, the Toreros put runners on first and second with one out. Senior Jose Iglesias would throw out Nick McCoy trying to steal second, but USD loaded the bases as Chris Engell was hit by a pitch and Tony Strazzara walked. Wheeler would get out of the jam as James Meador lined out to right field.
In the fourth, San Diego put runners on second and third and Bryan Haar looked to have an extra-base hit, but Noel made a spectacular catch on the wall in center field to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Coastal started the fifth as sophomore Daniel Bowman reached on a throwing error by Steven Chatwood. Bowman stole second and scored on a double by sophomore Taylor Motter. Junior Luke Schlechte then took Blair to the wall in center field. It looked as if Kevin Muno would catch the ball in center field, but he hit the wall and the ball popped out, scoring Motter and giving the Chants the 3-0 lead. Blair intentionally walked Noel to put runners on first and second. Sophomore Steve Davis hit a grounder to second. Noel beat out the force, and then Engall threw the ball away, scoring Schlechte. Iglesias then singled to center to score two more runs. Redshirt-sophomore Tommy La Stella looked to hit into an inning-ending double play, but Engall dropped the ball on the force at second. Blair would walk senior Adam Rice. Bowman then hit a shot to short that scored Iglesias. Redshirt-senior Chance Gilmore brought in the seventh run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left.
Coastal tacked on two more runs in the sixth as Noel scored on a wild pitch and Iglesias brought in a run with a sacrifice fly to center field. San Diego would plate two runs in the seventh as Haar singled and went to second on a McCoy single. Wheeler walked Muno and Scott Schauer to bring in Haar. Freshman Ryan Connolly then came in for Wheeler and induced a double play that scored McCoy.
Wheeler struck out six in six-plus innings of work. He gave up five hits and two runs with six walks. Connolly and junior Matt Laney gave up just one hit in three innings of relief. Blair was tagged with the loss despite striking out nine in 5.1 innings of work. He gave up six hits and four earned runs.
Seven different Chants had a hit apiece in the win, while Iglesias drove in three runs. For USD, Haar was 2-for-3 at the plate.
Coastal Carolina and San Diego will continue the three-game series Saturday, March 27. First pitch is at 2 p.m.