MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The Ball State baseball team went toe-to-toe with eight-ranked Coastal Carolina Sunday afternoon before dropping a hard fought 3-2 decision to the host Chanticleers in the Caravelle Resort Invitational at BB&T Coastal Stadium. The one-run deficit is the closest loss for the 10-1 Chanticleers this season.
Senior right-hander Morgan Coombs (West Terre Haute, Ind./Lincoln Trail College) was impressive on the mound once again, despite being tagged with the loss. Coombs (1-1) tossed 7.1 innings of four-hit baseball and did not allow an earned run as Coastal Carolina scored three unearned runs in the victory, capitalizing on five Ball State errors.
Ball State (3-7) struck early against Coastal Carolina as sophomore Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) led off the game with an infield single against Matt Laney. After a sacrifice bunt moved Elliott into scoring position, junior second baseman Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) doubled into left center field to score the game's first run.
Senior catcher Zach Dygert (Angola, Ind./Angola) followed with a single to right field to put runners on the corners. Sophomore first baseman Ian Nielsen (La Porte, Ind./La Porte) gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead as he reached on a fielder's choice that plated Vitek.
Coastal Carolina tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning as it took advantage of two BSU errors. The Chanticleers opened the inning with a leadoff double from Jose Iglesias, who came home to score on back-to-back infield errors. Luke Schlechte drove in the game-tying run with two outs as he singled into right field to knot the game at 2-2.
The two teams battled back and forth for most of the game with both pitching staffs holding the offenses down. The Cardinals had a chance to take the lead in the top of the fifth inning as freshman Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) reached on an infield single and Elliott drew a walk. After a ground ball moved both into scoring position, Coastal Carolina was able to strike both Vitek and Dygert out to end the inning and keep the game tied.
The Chanticleers scored their third unearned run of the afternoon in the bottom of the eighth inning as Daniel Bowman reached on a throwing error that moved him to second base. The ensuing batter also reached on another infield throwing error that allowed Bowman to come all the way around to score the game-winning run.
Ball State threatened in the top of the ninth inning against Coastal Carolina closer Austin Fleet. Senior Kory Benbow (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) led off the inning with a single and junior T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) drew a walk to put two aboard with nobody out. The Cardinals executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position, but Fleet was able to strike out two straight Cardinals to end the contest.
Matt Rein (3-0) earned the victory for Coastal Carolina in relief as he worked 3.0 scoreless innings and only allowed two hits. Fleet tallied his fifth save of the young campaign by working his way out of the ninth inning.
Ball State and Coastal Carolina will wrap up the 2010 Caravelle Resort Invitational Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Watson Stadium in Conway, S.C.