CCU holds on to beat Georgia Southern

CCU holds on to beat Georgia Southern

Story Courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics

CONWAY – Georgia Southern's ninth-inning come-back fell one run short thanks to Billy Cooke's second highlight-reel catch in as many innings as the 29th-ranked Chanticleers held on for a 6-5 victory over the Eagles Friday night at Springs Brooks Stadium.

Down 6-2 to start the ninth, Georgia Southern (24-14, 9-7 Sun Belt) scored three times and looked as if the tying run was going to score before Cooke chased down a deep fly ball to the centerfield wall to record the third out and seal the win. Coastal Carolina improves to 24-13-1, 11-4-1 in the Sun Belt.

Cooke, who was 3-for-4 at the plate as well, had an impressive diving catch in the right-center field in the eighth inning. Peyton Isaacson was also 3-for-4 with three RBI, while Wood Myers added two hits and scored twice.

Alex Cunningham (5-1) picked up the win. He allowed six hits and two runs (two solo home runs) in seven innings. He did not walk a batter and stuck out nine, including the last batter he faced in the seventh. He also had at least one strikeout in each of his seven innings.

Bobby Holmes picked up his second save of the season. He entered with bases loaded and no outs in the ninth. While he allowed two of his inherited runners to score on ground outs, the junior did not allow a hit and got help from Cooke for the final out to get the save.

Mason McWhoter was 3-for-4 with a home run for Georgia Southern and Ryan Cleveland was 2-for-4 with a home run.

Coastal Carolina wasted little time in taking the lead. Leadoff batter Cooke hit the first pitch he saw to the right-center field gap for a double. Myers followed with a single back up the middle to plate Cooke for the 1-0 lead. After Kevin Woodall Jr., walked, Isaacson delivered an RBI single through the right side of the infield to bring home Myers and put runners on the corners. Cory Wood then executed a safety squeeze bunt to plate Woodall to put CCU up 3-0.

The Eagles answered in the top of the second when McWhorter lifted a one-out home run to left field to cut the deficit to two, 3-1.

In the bottom of the third, Coastal put another three-spot on the board to take a 6-1 lead. Myers drew a leadoff walk, took second on a balk and scored on a Jordan Gore seeing-eye single through the right side. Woodall singled to left field, but a throwing error allowed Woodall to take third. Isaacson pained the right field line for a two-run double.

Once again, Georgia Southern answered with a solo home run, this time by Ryan Cleveland, to make the score 6-2.

The teams traded zeroes the four innings until the Eagles made their run in the ninth. McWhorter hit a leadoff double before Evan McDonald and Jacob Greene had back-to-back singles, the second scoring McWhorter. Logan Baldwin loaded the bases with a single to right field. Holmes entered and got a fielder's choice out, but McDonald scored and the Eagles had runners on the corners. Mitchell Golden then grounded out, but dove in Greene and allowed pinch runner C.J. Ballard to take second. Jordan Wren nearly tied the game as he drove a ball to the centerfield wall, but Cooke's grab preserved the win.

Georgia Southern starter Jacob Condra-Bogan suffered his first loss of the season, dropping to 4-1, as he allowed five hits and six runs in 2.0 innings.

Game two of the series is set for 2 pm on Saturday.