Coastal Carolina rallies by pounding UNC bullpen with eight runs in crazy eighth when Forbes gets ejected, 3 pitchers fail to get an out

By R.L. Bynum

CHAPEL HILL — No. 13 North Carolina was in control until everything went out of control for the Tar Heels in the crazy eighth inning Tuesday against No. 19 Coastal Carolina.

The top of the eighth inning started with the UNC leading by three. By the time it ended, 11 Chanticleers batted, eight scored, and the plate umpire Jon Byrne had ejected UNC coach Scott Forbes for arguing balls and strikes. 

Coastal Carolina (15–7) took advantage of that inning to rally for a 12–7 win Tuesday at Boshamer Stadium. It was a wacky game, with UNC going hitless for the first 4⅔ innings and scoring three times in the third without a hit.

“You’ve just got to finish the game,” Forbes, who got ejected for the third time in his career and the second time against Coastal Carolina. “You look at our losses, we’re ahead most of the time after the sixth or seventh inning. So, we got to find a way to correct that. Our guys played well, really, except for one inning.”

How bad was the eighth inning for the Tar Heels (18–7)? Three UNC relievers went in and out of the game after facing two batters and not recording an out — junior left-hander Nelson Berkwich (1–1), junior right-hander Matt Poston and fifth-year left-hander Will Sandy.

Still with a one-run lead and one out, Poston jumped ahead 0 and 2 on Coastal leadoff man Payton Eeles, who leads the team with a .425 batting average. But, with multiple chances for Poston to get the third strike, he never got a call. Eeles walked and the inning proceeded to go off the rails.

“I thought that was a big pitch that the umpire missed,” Forbes said. “I’ll have to go back and look; he might not have missed it. So, I’m going to fight for our guys. I was honestly surprised that the umpire decided to eject me there, but I was OK with it.”

Normally cool junior catcher Tomas Frick clearly was agitated that a strike wasn’t called.
“I felt like that was a really good pitch because Frick doesn’t show body language like that too often. He thought it was a strike,” said Forbes said, who thought he was professional while talking with Byrne. “So, I fought for our guys because I felt, hey, that’s a pitch, if we get it, you might get out of the inning. But we didn’t.”

When Forbes took out Poston, he delayed motioning to the bullpen long enough for Byrne to join the huddle around the mound so he could talk with him without showing him up. Forbes questioned one particular pitch around the mound, and continued to make his case around home plate after Byrne appeared to say something to Frick.

“He really feels like it’s a strike,” Forbes said of Frick, “So, I’m gonna back our guys. I love our team. I love our toughness. It’s a great group  So it’s a fun group to go to bat with and be here with every day.

Forbes wasn’t ejected until he was back in the dugout and appeared to still be making his case.

But the bullpen woes in the game were a bigger concern to Forbes than his disagreements with the strike zone. The relief pitching hadn’t suffered through a game like this since the early-season losses at East Carolina. Forbes said Tuesday’s performance surprised him more since it came more than a month into the season.

“I just felt like it got away from us because of the free passes and the command of not making the pitches,” said Forbes after UNC walked four batters and hit another in the eighth inning. “The most disappointing part was, at this level, when you score seven runs, you know you should be coming out on top.”

Caden Bodine gave Coastal Carolina a 1–0 lead in the third inning when he singled to left and later stole third and scored on Frick’s throwing error.

Chanticleers starter Levi Heusman hit three batters in the third inning and that combined with two errors to give the Heels three runs without a hit. Sophomore center fielder Vance Honeycutt (sacrifice fly), junior second baseman Jackson Van De Brake (hit by pitch) and Frick (hit into a fielder’s choice) drove in the runs.

“Especially the first three or four innings, it felt like every single out was a hard-hit ball, and that’s just baseball,” Horvath said. “We’re solid. Just gonna keep doing what we’re doing offensively.”

Horvath was hit in the foot with a third-inning pitch and said it hurt to run, swing or throw after that, but he said he should be fine.

Coastal Carolina tied it with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth off freshman right-handed starter Cameron Padgett (top photo). Junior transfer right-hander Kevin Eaise came in to relieve Padgett. His first batter, Anthony Galason, hit a dribbler down the right-field line. UNC junior first baseman Hunter Stokely overran the ball, and it slithered to his left and into right field to score two runs.

“He was a real bright spot,” said Forbes of Padgett, who gave up six hits, three runs and struck out 4 in 3⅔ innings, his second-longest outing of the season. “You always want to point out the positives. He’s going to be good. We wanted to start him to try to save some of our bullpen. We took Eaise out to keep his pitch count down because we’re going to need him at Notre Dame, and I thought he pitched good for the most part.”

UNC didn’t get its first hit until scoring twice to retake the lead with two outs in the fifth inning.

Van De Brake hit a hard shot just inside the left-field line for a double, and came home on Frick’s single to left. Redshirt freshman outfielder Casey Cook’s single to left scored Frick.

Carolina took a three-run lead with another two-out rally. Van De Brake led off the seventh inning with a walk, and scored on Cook’s two-out single to right. Cook came home on junior infielder Johnny Castagnozzi’s double to center.

Eaise gave up solo homers to left field to Blake Barthol in the sixth and Nick Lucky in the eighth. Eaise, who retired 12 of 13 batters before Brown’s blast, gave up three hits and no walks with five strikeouts, getting 36 of his 43 pitches over for strikes.

After Lucky’s homer in the eighth, Barthol’s double to left off Nelson Berkwich cut UNC’s lead to one. Poston then walked two batters in a row, the second forcing in the tying run. Against Sandy, Bodine banged a two-run single that deflected off the pitcher and into right field, followed by Bender’s RBI double.

Junior right-hander Ben Peterson was next. He got the elusive final two outs, but not before his first batter, Tanner Garrison, banged a two-run double to left field.

NOTES — Carolina visits Coastal Carolina on May 16. … The teams combined to leave 19 runners on base, with UNC leaving 10 and Coastal 9. … Carolina moved up three spots Monday in this week’s D1 Baseball national poll. … UNC visits Notre Dame, 13–9 after Tuesday’s 4–1 home win over Butler, for a three-game weekend series starting at 6 p.m. Friday (ESPN3). The Irish are 4–5 in the ACC after winning two of three over Louisville last weekend. … Forbes was also ejected during the Super Regional series last season against VCU. … Carolina, which has 51 home runs in 25 games, went without a homer run for the second time in three games and the fifth time this season. … Carolina has won six of the last 11 meetings with Coastal Carolina and leads the all-time series 47–21, including 33–14 in Chapel Hill. … UNC is 9–1 in mid-week games this season. … Coastal is 2–1 against ACC teams, after losing to N.C. State 14–6 but beating Wake Forest 13–11.

No. 19 Coastal Carolina 12, No. 13 UNC 7

(current rank)
17Friday10–8 LSeton HallHome0–1
18Saturday11–2 WSeton HallHome1–1
19Sunday4–2 WSeton HallHome2–1
21Tuesday14–2 WRadfordHome3–1
22Wed.10–0 WLongwoodHome4–1
24Friday6–5 LNo. 15 East CarolinaGreenville4–2
26Sunday6–5 LNo. 15 East CarolinaHome4–3
28Tuesday10–4 WVCUHome5–3
1Wed.14–10 WVCUHome6–3
3Friday3–2 W
11 innings
Stony BrookHome7–3
4Saturday7–5 WStony BrookHome8–3
5Sunday15–4 WStony BrookHome9–3
7Tuesday8–4 W,
5 innings
Western CarolinaHome10–3
8Wed.15–5 WPenn StateHome11–3
10Friday7–3 LNo. 11 VirginiaHome11–4,
0–1 ACC
11Saturday8–4 LNo. 11 VirginiaHome11–5,
0–2 ACC
11Saturday6–0 WNo. 11 VirginiaHome12–5,
1–2 ACC
14Tuesday16–3 WCharlotteCharlotte13–5
15Wed.16–2 WHigh PointHome14–5
17, 18Friday,
17–7 WPittsburghPittsburgh15–5,
2–2 ACC
21Tuesday6–4 WN.C. A&THome16–5
23Thursday6–3 WDukeHome17–5,
3–2 ACC
24Friday8–5 LDukeHome17–6,
3–3 ACC
25Saturday5–3 WDukeHome18–6,
4–3 ACC
28Tuesday12–7 LNo. 9 Coastal CarolinaHome18–7
31Friday10–8 WNotre DameSouth Bend, Ind.19–7,
5–3 ACC
2Sunday5–2 WNotre DameSouth Bend, Ind.20–7,
6–3 ACC
2Sunday9–1 LNotre DameSouth Bend, Ind20–8,
6–4 ACC
4Tuesday5–0 LSouth CarolinaCharlotte20–9
6Thursday8–1 WGeorgia TechAtlanta21–9,
7–4 ACC
7Friday10–6 WGeorgia TechAtlanta22–9,
8–4 ACC
7Friday8–4 LGeorgia TechAtlanta22–10,
8–5 ACC
11Tuesday10–6 WQueensHome23–10
13Thursday5–4 LNo. 8 MiamiHome23–11,
8–6 ACC
9–8 W,
11 inn.
No. 8 MiamiHome24–11,
9–6 ACC
15Saturday4–3 LNo. 8 MiamiHome24–12,
9–7 ACC
18Tuesday5–3 WCharlotteHome25–12
21Friday9–8 L,
10 inn.
Boston CollegeHome25–13,
9–8 ACC
22Saturday9–4 LBoston CollegeHome25–14,
9–9 ACC
23Sunday6–2 LBoston CollegeHome25–15,
9–10 ACC
25Tuesday18–2 WUNCWHome26–15
28Friday7–0 LVirginia TechBlacksburg, Va.26–16,
9–11 ACC
29Saturday12–8 WVirginia TechBlacksburg, Va.27–16,
10–11 ACC
29Saturday13–7 WVirginia TechBlacksburg, Va.28–16,
11–11 ACC
2Tuesday6–5 LNo. 11 CampbellHome28–17
3Wed.2–1 WNo. 15 East CarolinaGreenville29–17
9Tuesday5–4 WGardner-WebbHome30–17
11Thursday9–8 WN.C. StateHome31–17,
12–11 ACC
12Friday9–3 WN.C. StateHome32–17,
13–11 ACC
13Saturday12–2 WN.C. StateHome33–17,
14–11 ACC
16Tuesday8–6 LNo. 9 Coastal CarolinaConway, S.C.33–18
18Thursday14–7 LNo. 3 ClemsonClemson, S.C.33–19,
14–12 ACC
19Friday5–4 LNo. 3 ClemsonClemson, S.C.33–20,
14–13 ACC
20Saturday3–1 LNo. 3 ClemsonClemson, S.C.33–21,
14–14 ACC
ACC tournament
23Tuesday11–5 WGeorgia TechDurham34–21
25Thursday10–2 WNo. 11 VirginiaDurham35–21
27Saturday10–4 LSemifinal vs.
No. 3 Clemson
JuneNCAA tournament
Terre Haute Regional
2Friday5–4 LIowaTerre Haute, Ind.35–23
3Saturday5–0 WWright StateTerre Haute, Ind.36–23
4Sunday6–5 L,
13 innings
Iowa Terre Haute, Ind.36–24
Rankings according to D1Baseball

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications


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