College World Series: Arizona baseball falls to Coastal Carolina in championship series finale
It came down to the ninth inning, but Arizona dropped the final game of the College World Series Championship Series to Coastal Carolina on Wednesday in Omaha. It was the first-ever national championship for the Chanticleers.
The game was a battle from the first pitch. Anothony Marks led off with an infield single for the Chanticleers, but Cesar Salazar erased the baserunner during the next at bat, starting a 2-6-3 double play.
Bobby Dalbec then settled in for the 'Cats, retiring the next 11 batters. Coastal Carolina threatened in the top of the fifth, putting two runners on base via a double and a walk, but Dalbec pitched through it.
But then came the top of the sixth. Dalbec walked David Parrett to lead off the inning, and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Michael Paez then walked, and both runners were able to advance when Connor Owings struck out on a pitch squirted away from the catcher, Salazar.
Then things went sideways for Arizona. Dalbec got the groundball he needed from Zach Remillard, but second baseman Cody Ramer couldn't handle it, allowing a run to score and Remillard to reach. Ramer then tried to throw behind Paez at third and airmailed the ball over the head of Kyle Lewis, plating Paez and putting CCU up 2-0.
The next batter, G.K. Young, made the Wildcats pay for the error further, as he crushed his 18th homerun of the year over the bullpen in right field, making it 4-0 Chanticleers.
Dalbec then gave up a single, ending his day. It was a tough one on the mound for the junior, as he lasted 5.2 innings and gave up four hits and three walks, while striking out eight. All four runs were unearned.
The Arizona bats finally came alive in the bottom of the inning, striking back against the Coastal Carolina. Salazar worked a one-out walk, Lewis reached on an error by Chanticleers first baseman Kevin Woodall, Jr., and Alfonso Rivas walked to load the bases with two outs.
Jared Oliva came through for the 'Cats, knocking a base hit through the hole into left field and plating two, getting Arizona back in the game and making it 4-2.
Just like Dalbec, that hit was enough to knock CCU starter Andrew Beckwith out of the game. Beckwith also lasted 5.2 innings, walking three and surrendering two unearned runs.
Both bullpens buckled down for the next two innings, keeping the score 4-2.
But then came the bottom of the ninth, and Arizona's last chance. With one out, Louis Boyd walked, Ramer singled and advanced Boyd to third before a sacrifice fly from Zach Gibbons brought the 'Cats to within one. A double down the left field line off the bat of Ryan Aguilar almost scored Ramer from first to tie the game, but the throw in from Marks was perfect, and Ramer had to hold at third.
Alex Cunningham got Ryan Haug – who came in for Salazar when the Wildcats catcher was hit in the head by a backswing in the seventh – to strike out swinging, and Coastal Carolina sealed a 4-3 win to claim the NCAA title.
When you still have each other pic.twitter.com/mJsFBQRpxK
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) June 30, 2016
After being projected to finish ninth in the Pac-12 at the start of the season, Arizona completed a remarkable season, compiling a 49-24 overall record and falling just one win short of a national championship in manager Jay Johnson's first season in Tucson.