A three-game series is a short sample size in the game of baseball, which means it’s not always a team’s star player that delivers on the grandest stage.Coastal Carolina and Arizona are evenly matched, so both squads’ depth will be tested. The key in the CWS final could be which team gets more contributions from its unheralded players.
Here are six X-factors to look out for in the coming days.
C David Parrett, Coastal Carolina
Something clicked for Parrett on Thursday night against Texas Tech. Going into that contest, the senior catcher was hitting .130. His defense was as stout as usual, but he was really struggling offensively.
On that night, Parrett went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. He also hit safely in Coastal Carolina’s last two wins against TCU. The Chanticleer lineup is already potent enough – no pitcher will jump at the chance to face offensive monsters like Zach Remillard and Connor Owings.
Parrett was supposed to be the guy that allowed opposing hurlers to catch their breath. Perhaps that is no longer the case. It’s feasible to see the senior backstop having a memorable final series.
SS Louis Boyd, Arizona
Boyd is hitting .253 with no homers this season for the Wildcats, but he does so many things to help his team win. His on-base percentage (.391) ranks third among Arizona starters, and he serves as an excellent second leadoff man at the bottom of the Cats’ order. Boyd has knocked in a run in each of his last two games, and he looks to be locked in at the dish.
His true value, though, comes from his defense. With Oklahoma State threatening in the ninth inning of Arizona’s 5-1 win on Saturday, Boyd made this outstanding play to stop the bleeding:
Look out for this guy against Coastal Carolina.
2B Tyler Chadwick, Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina, known for its immense home run power, only has one big fly in Omaha. That belongs to its No. 7 hitter, Chadwick.
Not many college hitters have the muscle to belt one out of TD Ameritrade Park with ease, like Chadwick did. It just goes to show you how deep the Chanticleer lineup is – perhaps its scariest hitter at the moment bats seventh in the order. The second baseman is 6-for-11 in his last three games, and if he carries that momentum into the Arizona series, the Wildcats could be in trouble.
OF/P Alfonso Rivas, Arizona
Rivas is an integral part of what the Wildcats do because of his versatility. The freshman is a mainstay in the bottom half of the Arizona order, but he’s also one of the team’s best relief pitchers.
In the ninth inning of Saturday's game against Oklahoma State, head coach Jay Johnson was faced with a dilemma. Two Cowboy runners were on base, and Kevin Ginkel was showing signs of fatigue with one out left to get. So naturally, the skipper turned to…. His left fielder?
With no bullpen tosses, Rivas got the better of the lefty-lefty matchup and induced the clinching out. Whether it’s at the plate, in the field or on the pitcher’s mound, expect this jack-of-all-trades to have a big impact if Arizona leaves Omaha as champions.
RP Mike Morrison, Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina’s two best starters, Andrew Beckwith and Alex Cunningham, threw a high volume of pitches on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Chanticleer starting rotation depth isn’t its strength, but its bullpen is fierce.
Morrison is the leader of the pack, owning a 1.38 ERA in a team-high 33 appearances this season. Unless a Coastal starter is tossing complete game shutouts, expect to see a lot of Morrison this series. If the Chanticleers win, there’s a good chance he’s standing on the mound for the final out.
RP Cameron Ming, Arizona
The logic here is similar to Morrison. Ming is capable of pitching in tight spots, but as he showed in his 79-pitch, five-inning manhandling of Oklahoma State on Saturday, he’s also capable of stretching out.
With Nathan Bannister’s status unclear and Bobby Dalbec on one day of rest, J.C. Cloney is likely to get the start on Monday night. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. All hands will need to be on deck for Johnson’s crew, and he’s comfortable turning to Ming at any time.
As he should be. In the College World Series, Ming has allowed just one run in 10 innings of work.