Conway, S.C. – No. 21 Coastal Carolina baseball had a total of five players combine to drive in 10 RBIs on Friday night, as the Chanticleers overcame a pair of three-run deficits in a 10-8 season-opening win over the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams on day one of the Brittain Resorts Invitational at Springs Brooks Stadium.
With the win, Coastal has now won five-straight season openers and moves to 31-13 overall in season openers since 1974.
The CCU offense was led by senior outfielder Kieton Rivers (3-for-3, BB, 3 RBIs, run), sophomore outfielder Parker Chavers (2-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBIs, 3 runs), redshirt-junior third baseman Keaton Weisz (1-for-4, 2 RBIs, run) and redshirt-junior catcher Kyle Skeels (2-for-4, 2 runs, HBP, SB). Senior first baseman Zach Biermann (1-for-5, HR, 2 RBIs, run) added a two-run home run, while junior second baseman Cory Wood (1-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI, run) had an RBI double.
Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Eardensohn (1-0) picked up the win in a relief effort, allowing just one run on three hits, one walk and four strikeouts over 3.2 innings of work out of the bullpen.
Freshman Alaska Abney (1) earned his first career save, entering the game in the bottom of the ninth with the go-ahead run at the plate and two outs. He got a come-back ground ball on just three pitches to seal the win for the Chants.
VCU’s offense was led by Hogan Brown (4-for-6, 2 RBIs, run), Zac Ching (2-for-6, 2B, 2 RBIs, run) and Brandon Henson (1-for-4, HR, BB, 2 runs), as the Rams scored five runs in the first four innings of the game, but only mustered up three runs over the final five frames in the loss.
Rams’ starter Connor Gillispie was lifted with a 5-2 lead after three innings, as the Friday night ace gave up two runs on three hits while striking out four. However, reliever Benjamin Dum (0-1) was roughed up for the win, allowing six runs on four hits and two walks over 2.1 innings.
The visiting Rams struck first in the season-opening contest, as VCU took advantage of a two-out hit-by-pitch to string together three-straight base hits, including an RBI single from Brown and a two-run double off the bat of Ching to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
With one swing of the bat, CCU’s Chavers cut the VCU lead to one as the sophomore center fielder followed a Skeels’ lead-off single with a two-run blast over the wall in left field to put the home team down one at 3-2 after the first two innings of play.
VCU ran back out to a three-run lead with two runs in the top of the fourth, before a Rivers two-out RBI single scored Chavers from second base in the bottom half of the frame to get Coastal back within two at 5-3.
Eardensohn came into the game to relieve sophomore starter Zach McCambley in the fourth and settled things down for the home team to keep the Rams’ lead at just two runs.
Two innings later, Rivers struck again as the senior lined a bases-loaded single to left center field to score two and tie the game up at 5-5.
Weisz followed with a two-run single of his own to right field to give the home team in black and teal its first lead of the game at 7-5 with three innings to go in the contest.
Two batters later, Wood doubled off the left-center field wall to plate Weisz and push the home team’s lead to three at 8-5.
The Rams would lead off the seventh with a solo shot, only to see Eardensohn use back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame and keep the Chants in front at 8-6 heading into the seventh-inning stretch.
CCU’s Biermann added a laser two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the eighth to put the Chants in front at 10-6, which proved to be vital as the Rams pushed across two more runs in the top of the ninth before a ground-ball back to the pitcher gave Coastal the 10-8 win.