COURTESY CCU ATHLETICS
CONWAY – Coastal Carolina senior pitcher Alex Cunningham took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, finishing with a one-hit shutout, while catcher Matt Beaird hit his first career home run to lead the Chanticleers to a 5-0 win over Arkansas State in the series opener Friday night at Springs Brooks Stadium.
The Chanticleers improve to 13-9 and 2-2 in the Sun Belt, while the Red Wolves fall to 11-10, 2-2.
Cunningham (3-0) recorded his second career complete-game, struck out 10 and walked two Red Wolves. The one hit he allowed was an infield single to second base with one out in the eighth inning. Cunningham’s other complete game came last season versus Presbyterian, a game he also struck out 10 with no walks.
Cunningham’s performance was pressure packed as the Chants only managed three hits and were held scoreless through six innings.
Coastal Carolina ended the exciting pitcher’s duel with four runs in the bottom of the seventh. Dalton Ewing reached on a one-out single and stole second. With two outs, Beaird launched his first career home run, clearing the boardwalk in right field, to give Coastal a 2-0 lead. Billy Cooke was hit by a pitch and Jordan Gore walked. Peyton Isaacson brought the two home after lining a double off the right field fence.
The Chants added an insurance run in the eighth to provide the 5-0 final. Seth Lancaster laid down a one-out bunt, stole second and took third on a throwing error on the play. Ewing walked to put runners on the corners. Pinch hitter Kieton Rivers reached on an error by the Red Wolves, which allowed Lancaster to score.
Bryan Ayers (2-3) was the tough-luck loser. He allowed six hits and four runs in 6.2 innings with three walks and six strikeouts.
The teams will play game two of the three-game series on Saturday with first pitch set for 2 pm.