Eikhoff goes the distance in, 12-2, win over UNCW

CONWAY, S.C. – For the first time since March 2017, Coastal Carolina had a starting pitcher throw a complete game, as redshirt sophomore Riley Eikhoff put the No. 8 Chanticleers on his back in a 12-2 win over UNCW in the first elimination game of the NCAA Conway Regional at Springs Brooks Stadium.

Eikhoff needed just 98 pitches, throwing 75 for strikes. He struck out six hitters and did not walk a single batter over the nine-complete innings.

His complete game is the first by a Chant pitcher since Alex Cunningham went all nine innings in a complete-game shutout at Georgia State on March 31, 2017.

It is the first complete game in postseason play since Andrew Beckwith went all nine frames in a 4-1 win over No. 1-seeded TCU at the 2016 College World Series on June 24, 2016.

The win was the 40th of the season for the Chanticleers (40-20), the first 40-plus win season since 2018, and the 15th under head coach Gary Gilmore since he took over the program in 1996.

While Eikhoff dominated on the mound, the offense once again pushed across double-digit runs, moving to 28-1 on the season when scoring 10 runs or more for the game. The lone loss came to Rider on Friday night, June 2.

CCU also hit two home runs in the game to push its record out to 29-5 when recording two home runs or more in a contest, which included the team’s eighth grand slam of the season.

Eikhoff (3-1) picked up the win with the career day, while the loss fell to UNCW starter Zane Taylor (7-3), who gave up six runs on seven hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over 4.0 innings on the mound.

Coastal’s offense was a balanced attack powered by the long ball, as seven of the nine Chants in the lineup had at least one hit, while half of the runs came off a grand slam by senior Graham Brown (1-for-5, GS, 4 RBIs, run) and a two-run shot from Caden Bodine (4-for-6, HR, 2 RBIs, 4 runs), who also had a four-hit game.

Jumping in on the RBI action was Nick Lucky (3-for-4, 2B, 2 BB, 2 RBIS, 2 runs, SB) with two runs driven in and fellow veteran Zack Beach (0-for-4, 2 BB, RBI) with a bases-loaded walk.

The UNCW offense could not figure out Eikhoff, as the Seahawks had six hits for the game, highlighted by a two-run home run from Alec DeMartino (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs, run).

Playing as the visitors in their home stadium, the Chanticleers struck first with a grand slam from Brown with two outs in the top of the first inning to put Coastal on top 4-0.

That was more than what Eikhoff needed, as the righty sent the Seahawks down in order in each of the first three innings, including in the bottom of the third with the help of an unassisted double play at second base from Payton Eeles.

Coastal went back to the long ball in the top of the fourth frame, as Bodine blasted a two-out, two-run home run over the wall in right field to extend the lead to 6-0 midway through the fourth inning.

Eikhoff threw a 1-2-3 fourth, pitched around a single in the fifth, and notched another three-up, three-down inning in the bottom of the sixth to keep the zero on the scoreboard for the Seahawks.

The Chanticleers struck again in the top of the sixth, as Chad Born led off the inning with a double and came around to score three batters on a fielder’s choice and a UNCW throwing error.

Lucky followed with a double down the right-field line to score two more Chants and cap the three-run inning to push the lead out to 9-0 midway through the sixth inning.

UNCW’s lone runs came in the bottom of the seventh inning, as DeMartino hit a two-run home run to right field to spoil the shutout bid and put the score at 9-2 with two innings to play.

The Chants continued to add to the lead in the top of the eighth, as Bodine, Lucky, and Bender strung together three straight singles, which was followed by a bases-loaded walk to Beach.

Two batters later, Lucky walked in from third base on a wild pitch to put the score at 11-2.

Coastal added a run in the top of the ninth inning, again on a wild pitch to push the lead out to double digits at 12-2.

Eikhoff, who bounced back from the home run with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh, needed just five pitches for a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth inning and capped the complete-game win with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to cap the 12-2 win.

 Coastal (40-20) will turn around to play the loser of No. 2 Duke and No. 4 Rider tomorrow at noon ET in another elimination contest.

Categories: Local Sports, South Carolina Sports, Sports