“Win and advance,” we hear that phrase often this time of year. On Saturday, Coastal Carolina pushed that adage to its limit at the NCAA Greenville, NC regional. Leading 10-2 going into the top of the ninth inning against Coppin State, the Chanticleers allowed six runs before recording the final out and picking up a 10-8 victory over the Eagles. The win moves CCU into a loser’s bracket matchup on Sunday at 1pm against Virginia. The loss wraps up a 24-30 season for Coppin State, which won the MEAC championship to advance to its first ever NCAA Regional.
Despite the shaky finish, CCU was in control for much of the afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium on the ECU campus. The Chanticleers scored runs in all but two innings to build the eight run lead entering the ninth inning. And they did so on the back of “Super Senior” Matt McDermott. The Little Falls, New Jersey native hit for the cycle to pace an 11-hit Coastal attack. McDermott had a single in the third, a double in the fourth, a solo home run in the sixth, and a triple in the seventh to complete the cycle. He became the first Chanticleer to do so since Tommy La Stella, now in the majors with the San Francisco Giants, in March of 2010.
McDermott’s performance was needed as the Chanticleers’ bullpen almost gave up the lead in the ninth inning. CSU loaded the bases on an infield single, walk, and single through the right side, before a hit-by-pitch started the comeback. Two batters later, a pair of wild pitches pushed home two more runs, cutting CCU’s lead to 10-5. Following a pop-up on the infield for out number two, Josh Hankins hit the first pitch he saw into the trees in left field for a three-run home run to make it a 10-8 ball game. Coppin State had the potential tying runs on base with two outs before Coastal shortstop Eric Brown made a terrific defensive play to end the game and allow the Chanticleers to breathe a deep sigh of relief.
Jonathan Blackwell made the spot start for CCU and answered the bell with a career-high four innings of work and a career-high four strikeouts. Elliot Carney (2-1) picked up the win in relief for the Chanticleers by pitching 3.2 scoreless innings. Coppin State starter Tyler Nichol (2-3) took the loss, allowing six runs on eight hits in four and a third innings on the bump.
Winners Bracket Update: UVA lost to East Carolina 4-2 on Saturday night in the winner’s bracket matchup. The winner of Sunday’s contest between CCU and UVA would have to beat the Pirates twice to claim the regional title. Virginia posted a 7-2 win over Coastal Carolina on Friday night in the opening round.