Gardner-Webb (20-11-1, 6-7 Big South) dropped its third league game in a row, and its seventh this season by three runs or less.
Coastal Carolina (22-12, 8-2 Big South) led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run from Scott Woodward, and added a second run in the third on a sacrifice fly from Daniel Bowman that plated Woodward for a 2-0 lead.
Gardner-Webb, which threatened with back-to-back singles in the third, tied the game in the fourth. Jake Watts led off with a double and Dusty Quattlebaum singled to put runners at the corners. Adam McFarland singled home Watts to trim the lead to 2-1, and John Harris drove in Quattlebaum to tie the score.
The Chanticleers executed a squeeze bunt to go back in front in the fourth, and added a pair of runs in the fifth to go up 5-2 - with a bases loaded hit batter providing the final run of that frame. An error in front of a two-run double by May in the seventh padded the Coastal Carolina lead, before Gardner-Webb could mount a rally in the ninth.
Matt Sapp led off the ninth with a single and moved to third on a pinch-hit double from Danny Yelverton. Aaron Miller followed with a two-run triple down the right field line, cutting the lead to 7-4 and forcing Coastal Carolina to call on closer Josh Conway. Pinch hitter Ryan Allen walked to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs, but Conway recovered, sandwiching a pair of pop flies to the shortstop around a strikeout to retire the meat of Gardner-Webb's batting order and earn the save.
Gardner-Webb collected 11 hits in the game, with Watts (2-for-5) and Harris (2-for-3) leading the way. Emilio Pagan (2-1) took the loss in his second start of the season, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks in 4.2 innings of work.
Coastal Carolina All-American Anthony Meo (5-2) got the win, pitching around eight hits with seven strikeouts and two runs allowed in 6.2 innings pitched. The Chanticleers also had 11 hits in the game, with Woodward going 3-for-3 with three runs scored in the leadoff spot.
The Runnin Bulldogs and Chanticleers will get back to action on Saturday morning, with Game Two now set for an 11:00 am first pitch due to impending afternoon weather on the coast.