Chants continue to amaze, advance to finals of CWS

ccubase-cunninghamcwsCoastal Carolina avoided elimination three times in three days, downed TCU on back-to-back days – including a 7-5 decision Saturday night at the College World Series – to win its half of the bracket and will play Arizona for the NCAA national championship next week in a best-of-three series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.

The Chanticleers (53-17 and own the nation’s best win total) and Wildcats, who also came through the loser’s bracket – beating Oklahoma State Friday and Saturday – to win the other half of the draw, will square off Monday, June 27,  at 6 pm (CT)/7 pm (ET) on ESPN. Game two of the series will be Tuesday at 7 pm (CT)/8 pm (ET) on ESPN. If the teams spilt games Monday and Tuesday, a winner-take-all game will be played Wednesday at 7 pm (CT)/8 pm (ET) on ESPN.

Coastal Carolina pounded out 12 hits Saturday, including a home run, three doubles and a triple, while TCU managed 11 hits. However, the Chanticleers turned three double plays, including one to end the game and to secure the victory.

Offensively, Anthony Marks and Tyler Chadwick each had three hits, while Zach Remillard and Connor Owings each had two hits. Owings and G.K. Young also contributed two RBI each.

Alex Cunningham, who suffered the loss to TCU Tuesday, got redemption Saturday and improved to 10-4 for the season. He pitched 6.1 innings, scattered eight hits and allowed four runs. He struck out three, including two key punch-outs in the fourth inning, and walked one. Overall, he threw 87 pitches, 59 for strikes.

Bobby Holmes worked the final 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run with a strikeout.

Coastal let a good scoring opportunity slip away in the first inning, but Chadwick did put the Chants on the scoreboard in the second inning with a solo home run. The blast was his eighth of the season and is CCU’s NCAA-leading 95th of the season.

The Chants pushed their lead to 3-0 in the third. Marks reached on a one-out single and, two batters later, Owings singled to right. Young followed with a triple to center field that nearly left the yard and scored both Marks and Owings.

TCU cut its deficit to one, 3-1, in the top of the fourth. Austen Wade hit an infield single, but was erased when Cam Warner reached on a fielder’s choice. Evan Skoug followed with a single to put runners on first and second. After Cunningham struck out Luke Baker strikeout, Elliott Barzilli looped an RBI single to right center to plate Warner and put runners on the corners. However, Cunningham limited the damage by recording his second strikeout of the inning.

Coastal answered with four runs in the home half of the fourth to take a 7-1 lead. Chadwick hit a leadoff single and moved to second on a Billy Cooke sac bunt. David Parrett once again came up big with a double just shy of the 375 sign in the left center field gap. However, Chadwick had to wait to see if the ball would be caught and only advanced to third. Two batters later, Marks lined an RBI single to left field to bring home Chadwick. Remillard then came through with an RBI single to right center field, chasing TCU relief pitcher Brian Trieglaff. Connor Owings then welcomed new pitcher Ryan Burnett with a two-run double, plating both Marks and Remillard.

The Horned Frogs used back-to-back singles in the top of the sixth to score a run. Warner hit a one-out single to left and Skoug followed with a single to right that moved Warner to third. Baker hit a ground ball, but CCU could not turn the double play, resulting in an RBI as Warner scored. Cunningham bounced back to get a fly out and end the inning.

TCU added two runs in the seventh to make the score 7-4. Josh Watson hit a leadoff single and moved to third on a double by Dane Steinhagen. Ryan Merrill followed with a sacrifice fly to right, cutting the CCU lead to 7-3. CCU turned to Holmes out of the bullpen. He did get a ground out, but Steinhagen was ab le to score from third on the play. It was just the third inherited runner in 24 opportunities that Holmes has allowed to score this season. Holmes then recorded a strikeout to close out the top of the frame.

In the ninth, TCU attempted a rally as Steinhagen hit a one-out double and scored on an RBI single from Merrill, putting the Frogs down two runs, 7-5. However, Holmes induced a game-ending double play to send the Chanticleers to the national championship series.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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