Athlete of the Week: Young enjoys whirlwind 6 weeks

What a whirlwind six weeks it has been for Conway native and Coastal Carolina graduate G.K. Young, who has added the titles baseball hero, national champion and professional baseball player to his resume during that span. Now you can add Mammy’s Kitchen Player of the Week to that list.

Young was voted the honor after leading his hometown Chanticleers to the College World Series championship and joining the San Diego Padres’ minor-league organization to fulfill a pair of lifelong dreams. But lost in the celebration is the fact that it almost didn’t happen when the Chants’ season was hanging in the balance and resting in Young’s slippery grip on June 7.

Just after midnight at the NCAA Regional in Raleigh, Young was stepping to the plate with the bases loaded, one out and Coastal trailing host NC State 5-3. The umpire stopped the game for rain, and Young had to try to catch a few hours of sleep with the knowledge that Coastal’s fate was in his hands. Young delivered an RBI groundout and his teammates followed his lead for a 7-5 victory.

“I would be lying if I said I had gotten any sleep. It was the longest night of my life,” Young confessed. “For me to get a ground ball and get a run then for (Tyler) Chadwick to get hit by a pitch and then for Seth (Lancaster) to get a hit, they had my back and I’m very thankful for that.”

Given new life and opportunity, Young and the Chants took full advantage. Young homered in the first game against LSU, then had a pair of hits, RBI and run scored in the second to sweep LSU in the NCAA Super Regional in Baton Rouge. He played a pivotal role in sending and keeping alive Coastal’s first-ever visit to Omaha for the College World Series, but he saved his biggest blast for last.

In the sixth inning of the deciding Game 3 against Arizona, Young finally got every bit of a ball that soared over the right field fence and gave the Chants a 4-0 lead over the Wildcats. His run proved to be the game-winner as the Chants held on for a 4-3 victory and the school’s first national championship. Young still hasn’t come down from the emotional high of the homer and the ensuing celebration.

“It’s the best feeling of my life,” Young said after the game. “I’m trying not to cry right now. Just dreaming of that in my head since I was 10 years old, hitting a home run in the College World Series. I never would have thought it would come in the championship game.”

Almost before the streamers and confetti had fallen, Young departed to join the Padres as a member of the Short-Season A Tri-City (OR) Dust Devils. The momentum has carried over and followed him across the country. In his first five games with the Devils, Young is batting .316 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Even in the glory of his new career, Young still has the wild six weeks on his mind and in his heart.

“That’s my hometown, (and) just to have that title under my name and know that I was a part of it is a great feeling,” Young told the Tri-City Herald. “Those guys are some of my best friends, and I’ll never forget the time we spent together.”

It’s a memory of a lifetime for the Athlete of the Week.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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