No. 8 Coastal Carolina sweeps Marshall to win Sun Belt regular-season title
CONWAY, S.C. – No. 8 Coastal Carolina completed the three-game Sun Belt Conference series sweep of the Marshall Thundering Herd with a pair of wins in a doubleheader on Saturday to win the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Regular-Season Championship.
The regular-season championship title is the third for the Chants since joining the Sun Belt in 2017 (2017, 2018, and 2023), and the 19th in program history.
The Chanticleers finished the conference season at 23-7 overall, one game in front of nationally-ranked Southern Miss at 22-8.
CCU will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s 2023 Guardian Credit Union Baseball Championship Tournament (Full Bracket Here).
The Chanticleers finished the regular season at 37-17 overall and did not lose a single weekend series.
With the sweep of the Herd this weekend, the Chanticleers extended their Sun Belt Conference series winning streak to 16 consecutive series wins.
Game 1: No. 8 Coastal 19, Marshall 2
In the first game of the twin tilt, the Chanticleers hit .500 (14-for-28) with runners on base and .458 (11-for-24) with runners in scoring position to blow out the Herd 19-2 and take the series win.
For the second straight game, the Coastal starter recorded a quality start, as redshirt-sophomore Riley Eikhoff (1-1) threw a career-high 7.0-complete innings in the win. The right-handed hurler allowed just two runs on four hits, one walk, and four strikeouts in the victory.
Eight of the nine starters in the lineup had at least one, while all nine had at least one RBI.
Super senior Nick Lucky (4-for-4, 2B, BB, HBP, 5 RBIs, 3 runs) matched his career high of five RBIs and reached base safely in all six of his plate appearances, while fellow Chants Payton Eeles (3-for-5, 2B, BB, RBI, 2 runs, 2 SB) and Caden Bodine (3-for-5, HBP, RBI, 4 runs) had three hits each.
Senior Graham Brown (1-for-5, HR, HBP, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) had a home run and three RBIs, while fellow outfielder Chad Born (2-for-4, SF, HBP, 4 RBIs, run) drove in a career-high four RBIs in the start.
Taking the loss in game one for Marshall was starting pitcher Raymond Pacella (0-8), as the lefty was hit up for 11 runs on 12 hits, two walks, three hit batters, and one strikeout over 3.2 innings on the mound.
Marshall’s offense mustered up just two runs on four hits, highlighted by home runs from shortstop Gio Ferraro (1-for-3, HR, BB, RBI, run) and outfielder Cam Harthan (1-for-3, HR, RBI, run).
The Chanticleers scored first with three runs in the bottom of the second on a Born RBI single, a fielder’s choice ground out, and a two-out RBI double from Eeles before pushing their lead to 4-0 on an RBI single by Lucky in the bottom of the third inning.
Marshall hit a solo home run in both the fourth and fifth innings to get on the scoreboard, however, the Chants scored seven runs in the fourth frame on a three-run home run from Brown, back-to-back RBI base hits from Derek Bender and Lucky, and finally a two-out RBI double from Blake Barthol to blow the game open.
With an 11-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Lucky added a two-run double down the right-field line, while a sacrifice fly from Born in the bottom of the seventh put the score at 14-2.
Not done, Coastal added five runs in the eighth inning, with the help of two walks and three hit batters to blow out the Herd 19-2.
Game 2: No. 8 Coastal 10, Marshall 9
Game two of the doubleheader proved to be more competitive, however, Barthol blasted two home runs over the final three innings to help the Chanticleers score double-digit runs in the 10-9 win.
Coastal scored double-digit runs in each of the wins on Saturday to improve to 27-0 when scoring 10 runs or more in a game.
With his two home runs, Barthol (2-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 runs) became the fourth Chanticleer this season to hit two home runs in the same game, joining Bender, Zack Beach, and Tanner Garrison.
In addition to Barthol, Bender (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs, run) blasted a monster two-run home run for his 18th long ball and 77th and 78th RBIs of the year, while each of the top three hitters in the lineup in Eeles (2-for-5), Brown (2-for-4, 2B, 3 runs), and Bodine (2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) had two hits apiece.
The Herd offense woke up in the third game of the series, as eight different players had at least one base hit in the contest.
Myrtle Beach native Luke Edwards (1-for-4, HR, BB, RBI, run), Ferraro (2-for-5, HR, RBI, 2 runs), and Calin Smith (2-for-4, HR, 2B, BB, RBI, 2 runs) all homered in the loss, while Owen Ayers (2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBIs, run) and Harthan (1-for-3, 2B, SF, BB, 2 RBIs) both drove in two RBIs.
Picking up the win for the Chants on the mound was super senior Jack Billings (3-0). The righty pitched 4.0-complete innings, allowing just one run on one hit, a solo home run, one walk, and seven strikeouts.
Earning his 10th save of hiis career and eighth of the season was Teddy Sharkey (8), as the righty again was called upon to throw multiple innings. The right-hander gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on three hits, and one walk in 2.0 innings.
Again, taking the loss for the Herd was the starting pitcher, as Zac Addkison (3-8) gave up seven runs, six of which were earned, on nine hits, two walks, one hit batter, and two strikeouts in 6.0 innings on the mound.
The Chants, as they had done all weekend long, scored first to take a 2-0 lead after one inning of play on back-to-back RBI base hits by Bodine and Bender.
However, Marshall took its first lead of the series in the top of the second inning, scoring four runs in the frame on four doubles, highlighted by a two-run double by Ayers, to take a 4-2 lead into the third inning.
Following a solo home run by the Herd in the top of the third, the Chants got two runs back in the bottom half of the inning on another Bodine RBI double and a sacrifice fly from Lucky to cut the Herd’s lead to 5-4 heading into the fourth inning of play.
Billings settled in and held the Marshall offense at bay over the fifth and sixth innings, which allowed the Chants to retake the lead on a three-run home run to right field by Barthol in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After Marshall hit another solo home run in the top of the seventh to put the score at 7-6, the long balls continued as Bender blasted a monster two-run shot to left field to push the Men in Teal’s lead back out to three at 9-6.
The home runs continued, as Marshall answered with a solo shot from Edwards in the top of the eighth inning, only to see Barthol strike again, this time a solo home run over the 20-foot batter’s eye in straightaway center field to put the home team on top 10-7.
Marshall was able to push across two runs in the top of the ninth on a pair of singles, a walk, a Coastal throwing error, and a sacrifice fly before a ground out to the shortstop ended the game at 10-9.
The No. 1-seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will open up play at the 2023 Guardian Credit Union Baseball Championship on Wednesday, May 24, at 5 p.m. ET. The Chanticleers will play the lowest seed to win one of the two first-round single-elimination games on Tuesday, May 23.
Copyright 2023 WMBF. All rights reserved.