No. 7 Chants defeat Georgia State 5-4 at SBC Championship Tournament
CONWAY, S.C. – The No. 7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers drove in four two-out RBIs and got another quality start on the mound from freshman pitcher Liam Doyle to hold off the No. 8-seeded Georgia State Panthers 5-4 in the second round of the 2023 Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Tournament presented by Troy University on Wednesday night.
The win puts the No. 1-seeded Chanticleers into the Thursday night (May 25) contest versus the winner of No. 4 Louisiana and No. 5 Texas State, who play later on Wednesday night.
CCU extended its season-long winning streak to eight consecutive games with the tournament win.
Coastal’s Doyle (3-0) posted his second consecutive quality start, as the first-year Chant held Georgia State’s high-powered offense to just one run on three hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts over 6.0-complete innings in the win.
All-Sun Belt first-team selection Teddy Sharkey (9) recorded his ninth save of the season, yet again throwing more than one inning on the mound. The junior gave up one run on one hit and struck out four hitters over the final 2.0 innings in the victory.
The loss fell to GSU’s Rafael Acosta (3-3), as he matched Doyle for most of the contest. However, the right-handed hurler gave up five runs, three of which came in the first inning, on seven hits, three walks, and five strikeouts over 6.2 innings on the mound.
CCU’s offense, which did not hit a home run for only the 10th time this season, was led by senior first baseman and second-team All-Sun Belt selection Zack Beach (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB, 3 RBIs) as he had two doubles and drove in three RBIs in the win.
Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Caden Bodine (1-for-2, 2B, BB, SF, RBI, run) drove in one run, while lead-off hitter and All-Sun Belt second-team member Payton Eeles (1-for-4, 2B, 2 runs) scored two runs in the game.
Overall, CCU hit .417 (5-for-12) with two outs, while Georgia State was just 2-for-11 (.182) with two outs in the game.
Georgia State’s offense was led by one home run each from Matt Ruiz (1-for-4, HR, RBI, run) and JoJo Jackson (1-for-4, HR, RBI, run), both of which were solo home runs off of the Coastal bullpen.
In what was not expected to be a pitcher’s duel, the two starters both went 6.0 innings in the contest.
The scoring started in the first inning, as Georgia State picked up a two-out RBI double from Luke Boynton in the top half of the inning to put the visitors in front 1-0.
However, Coastal’s offense struck back in a big way in the bottom half of the first inning, as Bodine got the rally started with a two-out double. Following an infield hit from Derek Bender and a walk to Nick Lucky to load the bases, Beach lined the first pitch he saw in his at-bat for a double down the left-field line to clear the bases and put the Chanticleers on top 3-1 after one inning of play.
Doyle kept the lead intact with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the second and third frames, pitched around a walk in the fourth inning, and then threw another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth inning before a sacrifice fly from Bodine in the bottom of the fifth inning pushed the lead to 4-1 heading into the sixth inning of play.
CCU’s Doyle got out of a jam in the sixth, striking out three and stranding two Panthers on base before handing the ball over to the bullpen in the seventh inning.
The Panthers got to the Coastal bullpen, picking up a solo home run from Jackson and a sacrifice fly from Dalton Pearson in the top of the seventh inning to cut the Chants’ lead to one at 4-3.
Coastal got one run back in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out RBI single from Graham Brown to put the score at 5-3, which proved to be vital, as Ruiz belted a solo home run in the top of the eighth inning to trim the lead back to one run midway through the eighth frame.
The one-run lead was enough for Sharkey, as he struck out the side in the top of the ninth to seal the 5-4 win and keep the Chanticleers in the winner’s bracket of the conference championship tournament.