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For the first time this season, Radford University Baseball hosted a ranked team when the Highlanders played conference opponent No. 25 Coastal Carolina for a three-game series. RU was looking to get their first win in seven tries against Coastal.
Led by junior pitcher Eddie Butler, RU looked to make a strong statement in game one. Coastal took the lead first with a solo home run over the right field fence by Coastal’s Alex Buccilli in the first inning to open the scoring field.
Coastal struck again in the top of the fourth when a double to left center was good for an RBI by Coastal’s Daniel Bowman and a double to third base by Coastal’s Tucker Frawley scored Bowman to give them a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Radford got on the scoreboard with two runs. Freshman infielder Hunter Higgerson hit a homerun for a double RBI to bring in junior infielder Jeff Kemp, who had singled to left field in the previous play.
With senior pitcher Jason Patten in for Butler in the eighth, RU looked to stop the Chanticleers. A no-hit, no-run eighth proved exciting. However, Buccilli hit another homer in the ninth to give Coastal some breathing room with a 4-2 lead.
With two out and 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth, ball four was called for senior outfielder Matt Hillsinger to keep the game rolling. Trying to play percentages, Radford put Higgerson in to bat, which nearly paid off when he hit a deep fly ball to left. Yet Coastal’s Adam Eggnatz pulled in the ball at the fence to end the game.
Game two of the series evened the slate. Freshman pitcher Tyler Costello started for the Highs, winning his fifth start in a row for RU.
Once again, Coastal struck first with a single by Buccilli to drive the Chanticleer’s Jacob May in for an early run to give a lead of 1-0 in the first inning. At the top of the third, the Chanticleer’s stretched the lead when a double to left center and a steal at home by Frawley shaped a 2-0 lead.
RU rallied right back, when they got on board in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded, a double by senior infielder Matt Mack secured a triple RBI when Hillsinger, senior outfielder Zach Costello and freshman infielder Josh Gardiner scored.
Radford extended the lead to 5-2 in the 5th after unearned runs by Kemp and Hillsinger. Coastal grabbed another run in the seventh, but was unable to clinch anymore. A home run by junior outfielder Cory Turner gave RU a 6-3 lead, and the win.
Costello allowed two runs in six innings, while Patten posted 2 two-third scoreless innings to close out the game and earn his fourth save.
Coastal took the third game and the series with a 5-3 win on Sunday. RU got on the scoreboard first with a double to right center by Turner, scoring Mack in the second inning. Coastal grabbed a run in the top of the third to tie the game at one apiece.
The bottom of the third was big for Radford, with two runs to take the lead 3-1. Kemp and Costello both got unearned runs. That was it for RU for the rest of the game, however. The Chanticleers were tough, fighting right back to get three runs in the fourth. They grabbed another run in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead, and the game.
Radford was without their starting pitcher, senior Mark Peterson, after he was hit on the left leg by a line drive in the top of the first. The Highs were forced to use four relievers, which emphasized redshirt senior pitcher Abram Williams, who threw a scoreless 3 one-third innings.
The loss moved Radford to 15-13 on the season, and 4-2 in the conference. Coastal Carolina improved to 18-8, and 2-1.
The Highlanders will resume conference play when they take on High Point University at 6 pm on Friday, April 6 in North Carolina.