Coastal Carolina right fielder Connor Owings stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of a tie game with a man on second, not having had a whole lot of success in recent at-bats.
Sitting on an 0-for-3 for the night, Owings was 3-for-26 in Omaha at the time. That’s unusual for him. The senior usually hits everything in sight; despite his College World Series woes, Owings still leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Owings came through on Tuesday night, though not in a way he’s accustomed to. His bloop single served as the go-ahead run for the Chanticleers, plating Anthony Marks.
“Baseball is a crazy game,” Owings said after the game. “I hit a couple of balls on the barrel and get out three times, and pitcher makes a great pitch up and in top of the zone, I fist myself, and ends up putting us ahead in the national championship.”
Owings’ refusal to go down easily is a microcosm of the team’s resiliency to date.
Facing elimination isn’t anything new to the Chanticleers this postseason. Coastal Carolina is now 5-0 in win-or-go-home games in the playoffs.
Perhaps Owings took a page out of senior catcher David Parrett’s playbook. Facing Texas Tech in Coastal’s first elimination game in Omaha, Parrett was batting .130 going into the night. He notched two hits and drove in thee runs against the Red Raiders.
Or maybe it was Andrew Beckwith’s, who persevered through 138 pitches all the way to a complete game, one-run masterpiece to fend off hot-hitting TCU the next night.
It might have been Tyler Chadwick’s, who at times, didn’t start for Coastal Carolina in the postseason. He went 3-for-4 with a homer as the Chanticleers advanced to the final series the night after that.
To say it was Owings’ turn would be an obvious statement. To his credit, he knew it was just a matter of time.
“I always had the confidence in myself,” he said.
Arizona is used to playing the underdog, role, too, but Coastal Carolina has to feel good about its position right now. It seemingly raises its level of play when the going gets tough, and Beckwith is tonight’s likely starter. He’s 14-1 this season with a 1.94 ERA, and he’s fresh off of dominating offenses in Florida and TCU that, frankly, instill more fear in opposing pitchers than Arizona does.
With that said, an underrated component of tonight’s game is Coastal Carolina getting its offensive workhorse back on track. Sure, it was just a bloop single.
But if you give a guy like Owings an inch, he takes a mile. Kind of like the rest of the Chanticleers, who now sit one win away from a national title after surviving elimination five times.