CONWAY, S.C.—For the second straight day, San Diego got strong pitching against Coastal Carolina. But unlike in Friday's 10-2 loss, the Toreros played flawless defense behind their pitchers on Saturday, and they provided some run support. Starter Sammy Solis and reliever Matt Hauser took care of the rest in a 5-3 win to even the series.
"When you get run support, it's really easy to go out there and relax," said Solis, a junior lefthander. "We haven't had it in the past, and when we get it in the game, it's exciting. We can go after those guys."
The Toreros got to Coastal lefthander Jimmy Birmingham for two runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, allowing Solis to pound the strike zone and pitch to contact. He retired 10 straight batters from the end of the third until the start of the seventh inning, getting many of the outs early in counts.
"We established the fastball early in the count, because those guys were aggressive," Solis said. "They swung early in the count and with guys on base, so we went right after them and it worked out."
Solis didn't have his best velocity, working mostly at 88 mph with his fastball, but the pitch had late life, especially up in the zone. He had excellent feel for his 71-75 downer curveball and his 76-77 slurve, and he had success with his 77-78 mph changeup until the seventh, when he hung a change to Taylor Motter, who lined it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. Solis finished with seven strikeouts and one walk while allowing three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
"Everything was working," Solis said of his repertoire. "The changeup was looking nice, they started catching on a little bit at the end, but then you come right back with the fastball and pound them in, especially. They were right on top of the plate, so our gameplan was to go after them inside."
Solis handed off to Hauser in the seventh. A senior righthander and San Diego's closer, Hauser worked 2 1/3 scoreless frame, allowing just one hit and one walk. His 88-91 mph fastball had outstanding movement, and his 81-83 split-change baffled the dangerous Coastal hitters. He also mixed in a slider at 79-80.
The Chanticleers also got strong bullpen work, for the second straight day. On Friday, sidewinde Ryan Connolly and lefty Matt Laney combined to work three scoreless frames, and on Saturday junior righty Austin Fleet threw 4 2/3 scoreless frames, though he did allow two inherited runners to score in the fifth. Fleet showed power stuff, working at 90-92 and touching 93-94 with his fastball, which he located well. His mid-80s slider also came on strong over the course of his outing, showing tight cut action.
After two days, it's clear that both of these teams are very strong on the mound, but Coastal has the more explosive offense. That makes what Solis and Hauser did Saturday all the more impressive.
I'll have more on Solis and fellow junior hurler Kyle Blair in an upcoming feature.
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