CWS: Pushing Game 3 back a day should aid Arizona, Coastal Carolina
OMAHA, Neb. -- Could there be a more apropos ending to Arizona's postseason odyssey?
Almost a month ago, the Wildcats ventured to the Deep South to begin the NCAA tournament ... and got delayed by rain.
Not much has changed for Arizona in the College World Series.
Game 3 of the CWS finals between the Wildcats and Coastal Carolina was postponed Wednesday because of inclement weather and lightning, in the Omaha area. It has been rescheduled for Thursday at 1:08 p.m. ET and will air on ESPNU. It is the first time a deciding game in the CWS championship series has been moved to Thursday.
As he always does, Arizona coach Jay Johnson looked at the sunny side of the postponement.
"I think it helps both teams," Johnson said. "(It's) probably what's best for both staffs."
At this point in the postseason, when pitching staffs are taxed, every extra hour of rest counts. Pitchers for the Wildcats and Chanticleers will get an additional 17 hours to prepare their arms and psyches.
Junior right-hander Bobby Dalbec was scheduled to start Wednesday -- his 21st birthday -- on three days' rest. He threw 102 pitches in Arizona's 5-1 bracket-clinching victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Johnson wouldn't commit to Dalbec for Thursday, although that's the most likely scenario.
Coastal Carolina was scheduled to start junior right-hander Alex Cunningham. That's also subject to change. The extra day increases the likelihood that Chanticleers ace Andrew Beckwith -- who's 14-1 with a 1.94 ERA -- will start or pitch extensively in relief of Cunningham.
Beckwith threw 138 pitches in a complete-game victory over TCU on Friday. Cunningham threw six innings and 88 pitches in Coastal Carolina's 7-5 victory over TCU on Saturday.
Wednesday's game was supposed to start at 7:08 p.m. local time. It was initially delayed because of lightning in the area. It rained during the 7 o'clock hour but stopped before 8. However, because of lightning nearby and the threat of more rain after midnight, the NCAA elected to postpone the game, citing "severe weather and the concern for student-athlete welfare."
The official announcement came at 9:31 p.m. local time, making for a delay of 2 hours, 23 minutes. Johnson, Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore, UA athletic director Greg Byrne and others huddled with NCAA officials, who made the final decision. Part of their concern was the possibility of another delay between 1 and 2 a.m.
"Now you're finishing the national-championship game at 5 a.m.," Johnson said, "and I think they just decided that's not what's best for the players."
Delays and postponements are nothing new for the Wildcats.
Their first postseason game, on June 3 against Sam Houston State in Lafayette, Louisiana, was delayed five hours. Their next game, scheduled for the following day, was postponed.
Arizona ended up having to play four games in two days (June 5-6) and won the final three in a span of about 27 hours to advance to the Super Regional in Starkville, Mississippi. The first game between the UA and Mississippi State, on June 10, was delayed 37 minutes because of a power outage.
The Wildcats swept the Bulldogs to clinch their first College World Series berth since 2012. The UA's second game here, against Oklahoma State last Monday, was delayed 2 hours, 24 minutes because of weather.
Once they no longer could be on the field or in the dugout Wednesday, the Wildcats spent most of their time hanging out and doing impressions of one another in the third-base clubhouse. Pitchers JC Cloney and Matt Hartman wandered around the stadium and visited the ESPN TV booth.
Senior second baseman Cody Ramer saw another bright side to the postponement.
"I've got one more day to wear the Arizona uniform," Ramer said. "It feels good."
This article was written by Michael Lev from The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.