- Ian Livingston Brooking
Coastal Carolina baseball sweeps opening weekend
The Coastal Carolina baseball team won all three games this opening weekend, completing the sweep and starting the 2019 season off right with a 3-0 record.
Coastal defeated VCU 10-8 on Friday, Feb. 15 at Springs Brooks Stadium and the Chanticleers found themselves in a tight spot going into the bottom of fourth inning. Coastal was down 5 to 2 and only managed to get one running in the bottom of the fourth.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth inning when the bats came alive and the runs started to pour in.
Senior outfielder Kieton Rivers singled to left center field and drove in two runs to even things up at five runs apiece. Junior third baseman Keaton Weisz stepped up and brought in two more runs to give the Chanticleers a 7-5 advantage. The inning was capped off by junior outfielder Cory Wood bringing home Weisz to make it a five-run inning for the Chanticleers.
Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore gave his thoughts on the fight his team gave on opening day.
“We want our guys to compete for nine innings and we really want to focus on staying away from having teams score three or more runs on us in an inning,” said Gilmore. “Those types of innings can be killer for our guys but the way we responded was great and I think having our guys produce a three-run inning of their own is a huge motivating factor for us.”
Coastal managed to tag on two more runs in the eighth inning and survived a late comeback from VCU, ultimately coming out on top 10-8.
The following day, the Chanticleers continued to rack up runs thanks to the offensive firepower of Keaton Weisz and Kieton Rivers. Both managed to log an RBI on the stat sheet while Rivers managed a triple in a huge 7-2 win over Maryland.
The Chanticleers ended their weekend with an 11-2 win over former Big South foe Campbell.
The Sunday win saw the debut of the talented freshman pitcher Garrett McDaniels. McDaniels was rated the number one left-handed pitcher and the best overall prospect in the class of 2018 in the state of South Carolina by Rawlings/Perfect Game. McDaniels was also ranked fourteenth among all left-handed pitchers nationally by Perfect Game.
McDaniels went four innings with no earned runs and three strikeouts in his collegiate debut.
Gilmore gave his take on the freshman’s first career start in a Chanticleer uniform.
“He was fantastic,” said Gilmore. “He pounded the strike zone and did a lot of fantastic things. He had great composure for anyone, especially for a freshman. I would believe that he was happy with his performance as well.”
Sunday’s win over Campbell saw the return of Bobby Holmes, one of the few remaining players from Coastal’s 2016 College World Series championship team. Holmes missed a majority of the last two seasons due to injury.
Gilmore gave his thoughts about the pitcher’s return to the mound.
“It felt like your own kid was going out there,” said Gilmore. “He has meant so much to this program and this team. The guys played well behind him throughout the inning he was out there.”
Holmes took to social media afterwards to thank the fans, his team and coaching staff for their unwavering support over the past two seasons.
“For 649 days I’ve been running this moment through my head... and I don’t think I could have planned it much better,” Holmes tweeted on Sunday evening after the win. “So thankful to play at a place who has given me every opportunity and then some to get back out there. Chant Nation, you are the best. One love.”
The Chanticleers begin a grueling schedule as they prepare to play five games in a matter of six days.
Their first challenge is a road trip to UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Last season, the Chanticleers split the season series with the Seahawks as they won at Springs Brooks Stadium 10-5 on Feb. 28 but fell on the road to UNCW in 13 innings on Apr. 18.
First pitch for Tuesday’s game is set for 4 p.m.