CONWAY, SC: Coastal Carolina baseball needed a boost Saturday morning after suffering an improbable loss to Rider in the opening round of the NCAA Conway Regional on Friday night. Instead of caffeine, the Chanticleers turned to right-handed pitcher Riley Eikhoff for an eye-opener, and the sophomore delivered. Eikhoff twirled a complete-game six-hitter to lift Coastal past UNCW 12-2 in an elimination game at Springs Brooks Stadium on Saturday. It marked the first complete game thrown by a CCU pitcher since Alex Cunningham turned the trick in consecutive games in March of 2017.
Before Eikhoff had a chance to paint the first strokes on his masterpiece, his offense provided all the momentum he would need. As the designated visiting team, CCU batted first and took advantage of the early opportunity. After an opening strikeout, Coastal got consecutive base hits from Caden Bodine, Nick Lucky, and Derek Bender to load the bases. First baseman Zack Beach popped up to short for the second out, setting the stage for Graham Brown. The right fielder, who would record an outfield assist in the bottom of the first, deposited a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right field for a grand slam and a 4-0 CCU lead. It was the eighth grand slam of the season for the Chanticleers, with Brown becoming the sixth different player to record one this season for the teal, black, and bronze.
After that, it was all about Eikhoff and preserving CCU’s bullpen. On an economy of pitches, Eikhoff scattered six hits and did not allow a runner past first base until the seventh inning. His 98-pitch gem was aided by him facing the minimum number of batters in seven of the nine innings while recording six strikeouts. The two runs he allowed came on a homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning by Alec DeMartino.
CCU (40-20) will face either Duke or Rider in an elimination game at noon on Sunday in Conway. The Blue Devils and Broncs play in a winner’s bracket matchup at 6pm on Saturday night. Meanwhile, UNCW sees its season come to a close with an overall record of 34-23 and its 11th appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Seahawks also claimed the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season and tournament championships.