Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, July 1.
This just can’t happen in football or hoops. A small school like Coastal Carolina will never be national champions in the big money sports. But in the oldest of all collegiate sports, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are the champions for 2016. They defeated Arizona 4-3 to win the best 2 of 3 final of the College World Series. The word has gotten out, with No thanks to ESPN, who put the afternoon game on ESPNU, a channel few people have and even fewer can find. While the early start made for a small crowd in Omaha, those who were there were passionate, which makes college sports so exciting in the first place. Throughout the game, Arizona fans chanting U. of A. kept trying to shout down the Coastal supporters yelling “CCU, CCU.” But CCU carried the day on the shoulders of starting pitcher Andrew Beckwith and his relievers Bobby Holmes and Alex Cunningham. To correct an error made yesterday, Cunningham is bound for the Tigers, which I was unaware of when I declared that none of the 3 were risking anything by pitching yesterday. When Cunningham got the final out, Arizona was denied its fifth national championship while Coastal won their first title in their first visit to Omaha.
With Arizona’s ace, Nathan Bannister still sidelined by a sore arm, Bobby Dalbec answered the call. He has been drafted as a third baseman by the Red Sox, so in all likelihood yesterday was his last game as a pitcher, and he gave a brave effort. Tensions mounted through the first 5 innings as nobody scored. Arizona came closest, as Cody Ramer trippled, then was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to the mound by Zach Gibbons. Ryan Aguilar then singled, making it a certainty that Ramer would have scored had he stayed on third on Gibbons’ grounder. Nobody mounted a charge until the sixth when it was Coastal’s turn. David Parrett lead off with a walk, which spells trouble at every level from Little League to the majors. In a move you rarely see in the majors anymore, leadoff hitter Anthony Marks sacrificed Parrett to second. Michael Paez walked. Connor Owings struck out for the second out of the inning. But the third out never came for pitcher Daalbec. Zach Remillard hit a routine grounder to second baseman Cody Ramer who had done so much damage at the plate throughout the series. This time he booted the routine grounder (bad enough) but compounded the idiocy by air-mailing the throw he never should have made. Both runners scored and Remillard was standing on second when the smoke cleared. When G.K. Young stepped up, a badly shaken Bobby Dalbec threw a pitch, and it hasn’t landed yet. It was a rare home run at this notorious pitcher’s park. After a single by Tyler Chadwick, an emotional Dalbec was rescued by his coach Jay Johnson, to prepare for a life at the hot corner in the pro ranks. Cameron Ming put the fire out, giving his side a chance. Beckwith, the Coastal starter who had fired two straight complete games up to now, ran out of gas in the home sixth. Cesar Salazar walked, and with two outs Kyle Lewis reached on an error by Kevin Woodall at first. Alfonso Rivas walked filling the bags for the Wildcats. Jared Oliva, hitting in the 8 hole in the order singled home two runs making it a 4-2 contest. That was all for the undrafted junior Beckwith until next February. Bobby Holmes came in and struck out Louis Boyd to end the rally.
The next major event doesn’t appear in the scorecard, but it profoundly effected Arizona’s play. On the final out of the 7th, Michael Paez struck out swinging. His backswing caught Cesar Salazar on the head, and he had to leave the game. When Arizona came to the dish they were facing Alex Cunningham, who was the scheduled starter Wednesday night when the game was rained out. He walked the first man he saw, leadoff hitter Cody Ramer. After a fly out by Gibbons, Aguilar walked. By now the broadcasters-especially on ESPNU-were in full second-guess mode about Coastal coach Gary Gilmore bringing in Cunningham instead of keeping Holmes out there. But the new hitter, Ryan Haug in place of the injured Salazar grounded into an inning-ending double play. Neither pitcher gave an inch in the 8th. In the 9th Cody Deason came on for Arizona and kept the Chanticleers quiet. With one out in the 9th and the season on the line, Louis Boyd at the tail of the lineup walked. Cody Ramer singled him to right. Zach Gibbons hit a scoring fly ball making it 4-3. Ryan Aguilar doubled down the left field line. Coastal’s left fielder pounced on it. Had he not, Ramer would have scored for certain, since he can fly once he’s on base. But he was on third with Aguilar on second and again, Ryan Haug the replacement catcher was up. This time he struck out swinging, setting the Chanticleers and their fan base to crowing. A championship that has eluded the likes of Seton Hall and St. Johns, baseball powers of years past belongs to the little school from Conway, Horry County South Carolina, a county where Myrtle Beach gets all the play. 21 years of coaching has paid the highest divident for Coastal’s coach Gary Gilmore. He now has something more than Myrtle Beach to talk about to recruits from far states who have never heard of the tourist town. Nothing should spur recruiting like a championship, and Coach Gilmore and Coastal have one.
In the majors, the Indians won their 13th straight, a 4-1 win in Toronto over the Bluejays. They had won 13 in a row both in 1942 and 1951. They have never won 14. The league record is 20, set by the 2002 Oakland A’s. The Braves won 14 in a row in 2013-which seems unimaginable considering how awful they are now. Carlos Carrasco struck out 14 men en route to the Indians’ win last night. The starters are 10-0 among the 13 wins. Carrasco, age 29 hails from Venezuela and once struck out 15 men in a game, one more than last night’s total. He’s the one viable player the Indians got when they sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies in 2009. Carrasco hadn’t played a game with the Phillies at the big league level in six years, but reached the show a month and 2 days after being traded. The Indians are the only major league team he has played for. The Indians-Jays game is a day game because this is Canada Day, a national statutory holiday north of our border. It celebrates July 1, 1867 which was when Canada became a country with its own constitution. It had been called Dominion Day until 1982 when the name was changed.1