Coastal Carolina, winners of six straight, have relied heavily upon its pitching staff this season; and with good reason. The Chanticleer pitchers lead the NCAA with a 1.94 ERA and rank fifth national by allowing just 6.51 hits per game.
Leading the staff is junior relief pitcher Aaron Burke, along with Preseason Big South Pitcher of the Year Josh Conway and junior Tyler Herb.
Burke, a right-handed submarine pitcher, leads the Big South and ranks second in the nation with a 0.39 ERA. He is 4-0 with two saves in 11 appearances this season with his four wins ranking 12th (tied) nationally and second (tied) in the Big South. He has pitched 23.0 innings, allowed 12 hits, three runs (one earned) and four walks with 17 strikeouts. Burke is allowing just 4.7 hits per nine innings, which ranks 10th-best in the NCAA, while his .164 opponent batting average ranks third-best in the Big South. In addition, Burke has inherited nine base runners coming out of the bullpen and none have scored.
Conway, who has had little run support this season, but he is 2-1 on the year with a 1.00 ERA. He ranks 18th nationally in ERA and second behind teammate Burke in the Big South. His .161 opponent batting average ranks second in the league, while his 4.67 hits allowed per nine innings is eighth-best in the NCAA. The junior has pitched 27.0 innings, allowing 14 hits and three runs with nine walks and 19 strikeouts. Conway had a tough start to the season, leaving the Virginia contest with a 2-0 lead before the Cavaliers rallied to win. Also, despite striking out 10 with no walks in seven innings, he was saddled with the loss giving up two runs versus Virginia Tech, a game CCU lost 3-1. He has won his last two, including a one-run complete game versus Ohio State and a two-hitter over six scoreless versus UConn.
Herb, who was 0-0 in two starts and 17 appearances last year, is 3-1 this season in five starts. His ERA of 1.72 ranks 88th nationally and fifth in the Big South. Herb additionally ranks 77th nationally in wins and 16th nationally in starts. In 31.1 innings, Herb has allowed 23 hits, 13 runs (six earned) and eight walks with 24 strikeouts. Also, opponents are batting just .202 off Herb this season.
Other pitchers of note include Ryan Connolly, Ben Smith, Austin Wallace, Austin Kerr, Patrick Corbett and Javier Reynoso.
Connolly has four saves in nine appearances this season to rank 37th nationally and second in the Big South.
Smith is tied with Herb at 16th nationally with five starts. Coastal is 3-2 with Smith starts, but he is just 0-1 with a 2.95 ERA, getting little defensive help in his starts. In 21.1 innings, he has allowed just 23 hits, and 17 runs with just seven of those being earned. He has walked five with 16 Ks.
Wallace has only pitched three times and logged just 11.1 innings, but he has two starts. He has allowed no runs, just three hits and three walks with 13 strikeouts.
Kerr, Corbett and Reynoso are a trio of freshman relief pitchers, although Reynoso has two midweek starts to his credit. Kerr has pitched in 10 games, but just 6.2 innings, facing mostly left-handed batters. The lefty has one save and allowed just three hits, one unearned run and three walks with five strikeouts. Corbett is 1-1 and has pitched 12.0 innings over six outings with 12 strikeouts. He has only allowed five hits (two in his first outing and three in his second) and opponents are batting just .125 off the right-hander. Reynoso is 2-0 in seven games. He has pitched 9.0 innings and opponents are batting just .200 off the lefty. Between the three, they have inherited 25 base runners this season with just three scoring – two of which came in the their debut (versus Virginia).