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March 20, 2015

CCU baseball opens Big South play

While all the attention from the Coastal Carolina fan base is directed toward Omaha, Neb., and the Chanticleer basketball team's NCAA tournament clash with No. 1 seed Wisconsin on Friday night, the baseball program has its own business at hand.

The Chants (14-6) open a three-game series at UNC Asheville (10-10) on Friday evening at 5 p.m. as they begin their Big South schedule.

The Bulldogs have already played a conference series, having dropped two out of three games at home to Charleston Southern, and enter the weekend with the worst team ERA (6.62) in the league.

Sophomore Alex Cunningham (3-0, 3.23 ERA) will take the mound for the Chants and look to build off his best start of the season.

Meanwhile, here are a few other stats and notes to keep in mind ...

League Leaders

Junior catcher Casey Schroeder is tied for the Big South lead with six home runs, junior right fielder David Parrett is fourth with four and sophomore designated hitter G.K. Young is tied for fifth with three. ...

Parrett is also tied for third in the league with 17 RBIs. ...

Junior centerfielder Anthony Marks enters the series second in the Big South with 23 runs scored this season. ...

Junior first baseman Tyler Chadwick leads all conference player with 18 walks and ranks third with a .493 on-base percentage. ...

Promising Rookie

After freshman right-hander Bobby Holmes struck out six batters while allowing just one run in 4 1/3 innings Tuesday in the Chants' 9-5 win over Clemson, coach Gary Gilmore had some lofty praise for the rookie pitcher.

"You'll learn that name because that young man will be one of the best pitchers that's ever pitched here," Gilmore said matter-of-factly. "His stuff is very, very good. It reminds me very much of Scott Sturkie, a little bit better breaking ball, but he's going to be that kind of guy. He's going to end up being a 92 to 95-96 mile-per-hour guy by the time he's a junior. And he'll be a Friday night guy for us before it's all over."

Sturkie pitched at Coastal Carolina from 1998-01, posting a 36-20 record, 3.82 ERA and 400 strikeouts in 416 2/3 innings and was one of the more influential players early in the Chants' rise under Gilmore.

Overall, Holmes is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 innings over 11 appearances. He has a 20-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

"We've been trying to nurse him along ... just to try to get him some confidence and let him pitch," Gilmore said. "And you saw it tonight. His stuff is pretty doggone good -- it's Friday night good."

| Ryan Young, ryoung@thesunnews.com

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