In a game that spanned just over seven hours thanks to a lengthy lightning and rain delay, Coastal Carolina got a strong pitching performance from freshman Zach McCambley and generated just enough offense to claim a 3-1 victory over South Alabama Saturday to advance the top-seeded Chanticleers to the Sun Belt Championship.
Coastal (41-17) and South Alabama (32-25) started their game at 9:02 am (CT). It was delayed in the fifth inning at 10:35 am (CT) due to lightning. With the combination of heavy rain and over 2,000 lightning strikes, the game was delayed three hours and 50 minutes and resumed at 2:25 pm (CT). The game ended at 4:03 pm (CT).
Coastal Carolina will face the winner of Texas State and Troy (played Saturday) in a winner-take-all championship on Sunday with first pitch set for 1 pm (CT) / 2 pm (ET).
Though he pitched well, McCambley would not factor in the decision as he did not complete the requisite five full innings, exiting with two outs and a 2-2 count in the fifth when the game was suspended. He did not allow a hit, walked five and struck out five.
Also, while McCambley did not get the win, Coastal is now 6-0 in games he starts. In his six starts, McCambley is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 24.1 innings with 28 strikeouts, allowing six runs (five earned) and just 24 hits.
Coastal’s offense was paced by Cory Wood, Kevin Woodall Jr., Parker Chavers and Matt Beaird, each of whom had two hits. Lancaster also walked three times and scored an insurance run in the eighth inning. Keaton Weisz and Beaird each scored in the fourth inning prior to the delay, which proved to be enough to claim the win.
While the teams’ combined for just 12 hits, Coastal stranded 14 runners, thanks nine walks, and the Jaguars stranded 10 runners on eight walks.
Coastal got off to a shaky start as McCambley walked the first two batters, got two outs and walked a third batter to load the bases. However, McCambley escaped by getting a fly out to end the top of the first. Coastal would load the bases as well, but likewise could not take advantage.
The Chanticleers broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the fourth. Weisz had a one-out, bunt single and took second on the play due to a throwing error. Beaird followed with a sharp single to center to bring home Weisz. After Lancaster walked, Woodall found the hole in left side of the infield to drive in Beaird.
When the game was halted, McCambley had two outs with a 2-2 count versus Travis Swaggerty. When the game resumed, Dylan Gentry took the mound and walked Swaggerty on two pitches. However, three pitches later, Gentry threw out Swaggerty attempting to steal second to end the top of the fifth.
South Alabama took advantage of a Chanticleer error to get on the scoreboard in the sixth. Brendan Donovan hit a leadoff single and Wells Davis drew a one-out walk. On a ground ball, Coastal attempted to complete a double play, but a throwing error allowed Donovan to score make it a one-run game, 2-1.
Coastal added a key insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to take a 3-1 lead. Lancaster walked, moved to third on a Woodall single and scored on a Zach Biermann ground out.
Davie Inman (2-2) was credited with the win. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, allowed one hit and one walk with a strikeout. Jay Causey earned his fifth save of the season. He entered in the seventh with bases loaded before getting a fly out to end the top half. He would allowed one hit over his 2.1 innings as he retired seven of the eight batters he faced.