Career firsts highlight Coastal baseball’s 14-7 opening day win
CONWAY, S.C. – It was a night of firsts on the first day of the 2023 season on Friday night, as the Coastal Carolina baseball team doubled up the Fairfield Stags in a 14-7 Opening Day win on day one of the Baseball at Beach presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com.
The win puts Coastal at 1-0 to start the season, while the loss drops Fairfield to 0-1.
Highlighting the night was career firsts from several Chants, both offensively and on the mound.
Freshman infielder Blake Barthol (2-for-5, HR, SF, 3 RBIs, run) hit his first career home run in his first career at-bat to lead off the bottom of the first inning, while fellow first-year Chant Caden Bodine (3-for-5, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) also blasted his first career home run with a three-run shot in the fourth.
First-year shortstop Dean Mihos (1-for-2, 2B, HBP, SAC, BB, RBI, run) also recorded his first career hit and RBI in the win, while both Chase Hudson (0-for-3, 3 BB, 2 runs, SB) and Jake Books (0-for-0, BB, run) each saw their first action as a Chant.
Transfers Anthony Galason (1-for-4, BB, RBI, run) and Payton Eeles (2-for-3, 2B, 2 BB, 2 RBIs, 2 runs, SB) also recorded their first hit, RBI, and run as Chants on the night.
On the mound, CCU’s Will Smith (1-0) recorded his first intercollegiate win as he pitched around two walks in the fourth with the game tied at 2-2.
Fellow pitcher Liam Doyle made his first career appearance, striking out three and allowing one hit in a scoreless ninth inning.
Overall, the Coastal pitching staff struck out 14 Stags’ hitters compared to just three walks.
For the Stags, seven different players had at least one hit on the night led by two home runs from Griffin Watson (2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) and a solo home run in the seventh by Matt Venuto (2-for-5, HR, RBI, 2 runs).
The loss fell to Fairfield starter Jake Noviello (0-1), as the tall right-handed pitcher was roughed up for five runs on six hits, three walks, a hit batter, and two strikeouts over 3.1 innings pitched.
Both teams used the long ball early, as Fairfield ran out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-run home run off the bat of Mike Becchetti.
However, Barthol quickly got one run back in the bottom half of the first on a lead-off home run to left field to cut the Stags’ lead in half at 2-1 after just one inning of play.
After a Barthol sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second tied the game up at 2-2, the Chants broke the game open by scoring six runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double by Mihos, a three-run shot opposite field home run from Bodine, followed by a solo home run to left field by Graham Brown to put the home team on top 8-2.
Fairfield used a two-run home run from Watson in the fifth and the help of a throwing error from Coastal in the top of the sixth to trim the Chants’ lead to three at 8-5, only to see the home team use a four-run sixth push them back in front at 12-5.
Brown started the scoring in the sixth with an RBI single, which was followed by a hit-by-pitch and a bases-loaded RBI walk by Galason to put the score at 10-5. Eeles then delivered a two-run single to center to pad the Chants’ lead heading into the seventh.
The Stags continued to use the long ball, as Watson and Venuto blasted back-to-back solo shots in the seventh inning to cut the Coastal lead back to five at 12-7 before the seventh-inning stretch.
However, the Chants would add two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on a Barthol infield RBI single and a stolen base by Eeles, who stole home as the Stags were not paying attention after the infield hit to double up the Stags at 14-7.
Coastal will be back in action on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET versus Middle Tennessee (1-0). VCU (0-1) and Fairfield will play at 11 a.m. ET.
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