Although it was a pain that game three of the College World Series championship series was postponed and moved to Thursday, and it was less than ideal that the game was rescheduled for around noon central time, but with that being said, the extra day helped give us an incredible end to the college baseball season.
With the extra day of rest, Coastal Carolina was able to turn the ball over to Andrew Beckwith, and Arizona’s Bobby Dalbec, who was going to start on Wednesday anyway, was going to be that much fresher.
And for much of the afternoon, we got exactly the game that we would have expected from arguably the two most effective pitchers during the course of the CWS.
The teams traded zeroes for the first five innings of the game, and as the innings flew by, the tension only increased.
Then, in the sixth inning, Arizona blinked first.
With two men on and two outs, CCU’s Zach Remillard hit a fairly innocuous ground ball up the middle that Cody Ramer fielded cleanly. But as he went to take the ball out of his glove to throw to first, he bobbled it, allowing Remillard to reach and the lead run to score. Then, perhaps trying to do too much to make up for the error, Ramer threw behind the trail runner at third base and threw the ball away, allowing a second run to score. Coming from a team that had fielded the ball so well during their time in Omaha, it was a jarring sight to see.
Things went from bad to worse quickly, though, when G.K. Young parked a hanging breaking ball from Dalbec well over the wall in right field to put his team up 4-0, a lead that, at TD Ameritrade Park, looked all but insurmountable.
But Arizona wasn’t ready to pack it in. In the bottom half of the sixth, they rallied for two runs to cut the Chanticleers’ lead in half at 4-2. Those runs, like the four Coastal runs in the previous half-inning, were unearned, as first baseman Kevin Woodall, Jr. allowed a grounder to go between his legs to extend the inning and the Arizona rally.
Notably, the extended inning also forced Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore to go to the bullpen, as a clearly tiring Beckwith was lifted for Bobby Holmes, who was able to get the Chants out of the inning with no further damage being done.
Alex Cunningham, the announced starter for CCU had the game been played on Wednesday, came on in relief in the seventh. He got out of a jam of his own doing with a double play ball in the seventh inning, and then pitched a quick eighth inning before things got tense again in the ninth.
After Jared Oliva led off with a lineout to right field, Louis Boyd walked on four pitches. Cody Ramer, not surprisingly, lined a single to right, moving Boyd all the way to third. Zach Gibbons flew out to center field, which brought in Boyd to make it 4-3, but also gave the Wildcats just one more out to work with as Ryan Aguilar stepped to the plate.
The senior perfectly dropped a ball onto the chalk in deep left field for an extra-base hit. With two outs, Ramer was moving on contact, and in many cases, he would have been sent home to score. This wasn’t one of those cases, though, as CCU left fielder Anthony Marks hustled into the corner, played the ball perfectly, and got it back into the infield fast enough that Ramer had to be held at third.
That play ended up being the play that saved the game, as Cunningham struck out the next batter, backup catcher Ryan Haug (in the game in place of Cesar Salazar, who left after being hit in the head on a backswing), to clinch the victory.
This win for Coastal Carolina is the culmination of a lot of years of hard work in making that program one that was mid-major in name only. They’ve piled up a ton of wins, they’ve built a beautiful facility that any program, big or small, would be proud of, they’ve gone toe-to-toe with all of the big boys in college baseball, and now, they’ve won a national championship.