Brown’s late heroics deliver walk-off, extra-inning win over App State

(Bob McCool / CCU Athletics)
Published: May. 7, 2023 at 11:03 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. – With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, senior Graham Brown hit a 1-0 pitch to the boardwalk in left field to give the No. 7/8 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers the 6-5 extra-inning walk-off win on Saturday afternoon over the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Springs Brooks Stadium.

However, the walk-off home run would not have been possible had Brown made not one but two outstanding defensive plays in right field over the final two innings.

In the top of the ninth inning, after App State had tied the game up at 5-5, Brown made a diving catch on a sinking-line drive for the second out of the inning.

In the next inning, Brown fielded a single through the right side of the infield and came up throwing to home plate to throw out the go-ahead run at the plate to end the inning and send the game to the bottom of the 10th tied at 5-5.

The walk-off win was the second of the season for the Chanticleers, who recorded a 7-6 walk-off victory over Davidson (March 3) on a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning from Zack Beach.

It was also the Chants’ fourth extra-inning win (4-0) on the season, all coming in Sun Belt Conference play – at Georgia State (April 2), at Old Dominion (April 16), at Louisiana (April 30), and versus App State.

The Chanticleers’ offense hit two home runs for the game to improve to 23-4 on the season when hitting multiple home runs.

Brown (3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) led the offense with a game-high three RBIs, while freshman catcher Caden Bodine (3-for-5, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 runs) also had a home run and double in the win. Infielder Ty Dooley (1-for-3, 2 RBIs) drove in two runs, while Payton Eeles (1-for-4, BB, 2 SB) and Nick Lucky (1-for-3, 2 BB, run) had two stolen bases each.

The Coastal pitching staff struck out 16 App State hitters in the 10-inning contest, with seven strikeouts from both starter Liam Doyle and winning pitcher Teddy Sharkey.

Making just his second career starter, Doyle held App State to one run on four hits, one hit batter, one wild pitch, and a career-high seven strikeouts over 4.0 innings pitched.

Reliever Riley Eikhoff (3.0 IP, 5 hits, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) threw 3.0 complete innings for the Chants before handing the ball over to Sharkey (6-1) in the eighth inning. Sharkey picked up the win by holding the Mountaineers to one run on three hits and seven strikeouts over 3.0 innings.

App State’s offense again used a team effort, as seven players had at least one hit for the game led, by a team-high three base hits from lead-off hitter CJ Boyd (3-for-6, RBI). Xavier Moronta (2-for-4, HR, RBI, run) and Golston Gillespie (1-for-4, HR, RBI, run) both hit solo home runs, with Moronta’s tying the game up in the top of the ninth.

Taking the loss for the visitors was reliever Colin Welch (2-2), who surrendered one run on three hits and one strikeout over the final 1.1 innings.

It was a pitcher’s duel through the first three innings when in the fourth frame the scoring picked up.

The visiting Mountaineers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth on a solo home run off the bat of Gillespie, only to see the Chanticleers answer with a two-run double by Brown followed by a two-run single from Dooley to push the Chants in front 4-1 after four innings of play.

After Bodine added to the lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, it was the Mountaineers turn for a big inning, as the black and gold pushed across three runs in the top of the sixth on a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice fly, and a two-out RBI single to cut the Chants’ lead to one at 5-4.

Looking to add some insurance runs late, the Chanticleers loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning yet failed to push across another run to keep the score at 5-4.

That proved costly, as the Mountaineers’ Moronta tied the game up at 5-5 with a solo home run to left field to start the ninth inning.

The home run set the stage for Brown’s late-inning heroics.

The Chants (29-16, 16-7 Sun Belt) and Appalachian State (23-20, 12-10 Sun Belt) will play the rubber match Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.