Coastal Carolina baseball stays alive, tops Virginia at NCAA Regionals

(Bob McCool / CCU Athletics)
Published: Jun. 5, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. – The Coastal Carolina baseball team came back from a 6-0 deficit to score the final seven runs of the game, including the game-winning run off a Christopher Rowan, Jr. RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning to keep the Chanticleers’ season alive with a 7-6 walk-off win over the No. 2-seeded Virginia Cavaliers at the NCAA Greenville Regional on Sunday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.

The walk-off win was the fifth of the season for the Chanticleers.

CCU entered the bottom of the fifth inning trailing the Cavaliers 6-0. However, the Chants were not deterred, as the Men in Teal scored three runs in the fifth, three more in the sixth, and the game-winning run in the ninth in the comeback win.

Lead-off hitter Austin White led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single up the middle. After Eric Brown laid down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt to move White up to second base, the Cavaliers elected to intentionally walk Tyler Johnson to try to set up the double play.

With runners on first and second, Rowan, Jr. singled up the middle to drive in the speedy White from second base and give the Chants the 7-6 walk-off win.

Rowan, Jr. (1-for-4, RBI) provided the fireworks in the ninth inning with an RBI-single, while both Graham Brown (1-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) and Nick Lucky (1-for-3, HR, BB, RBI, run) each homered in the win.

Virginia was led by Jake Gelof (2-for-5, 2 HR, 2 BB, 5 RBIs, 2 runs) with two home runs and a game-high five RBIs, while Alex Tappen (4-for-5, RBI, 2 runs) had a game-high four base hits for the game.

Picking up the win for the Chants was graduate student Reece Maniscalco (3-2), as the veteran righty threw 2.0-scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking one, and striking out one over the eighth and ninth innings.

Maniscalco relieved freshman Matthew Potok who also threw 2.0-scoreless innings, by holding Virginia to just one hit and one walk, while striking out one.

Taking the loss for the Cavaliers was reliever Matt Wyatt (0-2), as the righty gave up the winning run on two hits and two walks over 2.0-complete innings on the mound.

The Cavaliers threatened to blow the game open in the top of the first inning, as the visitors in Navy took an early 1-0 lead on a one-out double and an RBI-single just three batters into the game.

In the same inning, UVA put the next two batters on base with back-to-back walks and looked to do more damage in the first at-bat until a 4-6-3 double play got the Chants out of the jam and kept the score at 1-0.

Virginia added to its lead in the top of the third inning, as a two-out single set up a two-run home run from Gelof to deep left field to push the visitor’s lead out to 3-0 midway through the third inning.

Coastal’s offense was able to get a single and put a runner on base in each of the third and fourth innings, yet couldn’t get another base hit and ended each inning on a fielder’s choice ground out to trail the Cavaliers by three.

UVA’s Gelof would strike again in the top of the fifth inning, as this time the sophomore third baseman hit a three-run shot to left field, his fifth multi-home run game of the season, to push the Cavaliers’ lead to 6-0.

The Chanticleers were able to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning on back-to-back walks to Dale Thomas and Graham Brown followed by an RBI-single up the middle from Kameron Guangorena.

After a pop-out in the infield, the next two Chants drew walks with the latter forcing in a runner from third base for another CCU run. With the base still loaded, Johnson took a 1-2 pitch off the elbow guard to allow another Coastal runner to score and cut the Virginia lead in half at 6-3.

Following a second UVA pitching change in the inning, the Cavaliers were able to get a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and get out of the fifth frame without any more damage done.

The damage would come in the next CCU at-bat, as Lucky led off the inning with an opposite-field solo home run, his sixth long ball of the season, to start the rally.

After Thomas laced a double to the left-center field gap, Graham Brown hit a rocket that left the field in a hurry for a two-run home run, his seventh of the year, to tie the game up at 6-6 with three innings to play.

Looking to take their first lead of the game, the Chanticleers loaded the bases on a Virginia throwing error, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an intentional walk in the bottom of the seventh inning, but saw a 5-4-3 double play end the home team’s scoring chance and send us to the eighth tied at 6-6.

Maniscalco pitched around 1-2-3 eighth inning and around a UVA lead-off single in the top of the ninth inning, which kept the Chants just one run away from the win.

Virginia finished the season at 39-19 overall.

Coastal Carolina will have a quick turnaround to play host and No. 8 nationally-ranked East Carolina at 6 p.m.