The Chants did it by taking down four-time champ Arizona by a score of 4-3 on Thursday afternoon.
This winner-take-all game was pushed back to Thursday after lightning in the area Wednesday night, which allowed Coastal to throw their ace pitcher Andrew Beckwith on almost normal rest.
Jay Johnson and the Wildcats countered with Bobby Dalbec, who went toe-to-toe with the Big South’s pitcher of the year in the first half of this game.
But the game came down to the sixth inning and a couple of errors.
With runners on first and second and no runs on the scoreboard, Dalbec got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but the pitch was in the dirt, allowing the runners to move up into scoring position.
Zach Remillard came up, and bounced one up the middle to Cody Ramer.
Ramer misplayed it, allowing one run to score. But then he also threw the ball away when going to third, letting a second run score. Before those pair of errors, the senior second baseman had only committed nine all season.
Two more unearned runs scored in the inning thanks to a G.K. Young homer to right. Dalbec would give up another two-out hit before being replaced by Cameron Ming.
As Ming jogged in from the bullpen, Dalbec put his arm around Ramer, consoling the senior that led Arizona to this point.
Ming was able to end the damage, drawing a comebacker for the final out of the inning. But the damage was done.
Arizona responded with two unearned runs of their own.
A two-out error by Coastal first baseman Kevin Woodall Jr. that was very Bill Buckner-like extended the bottom half of the sixth, and put two runners on.
Alfonso Rivas walked, loading the bases for Jared Oliva. The outfielder already had six RBI in the CWS, and added two more with a single through the left side.
That also ended Beckwith’s day. Bobby Holmes would get Coastal out of the 6th without allowing anymore runs.
Arizona rallied in the ninth. A sac fly brought in a run, but after a double was fielded in the left field corner perfectly, Ramer was left at third.
Ryan Haug struck out on a full count with two runners on to end the game.
Arizona had the first threat of the game, putting two runners on with just one out in the second. But a strikeout by Rivas and an Oliva flyout to right left those two guys on base.
The Wildcats appeared to score their first run of the game in the third. Ramer dropped a single in front of right fielder Connor Owings. Owings played it aggressively, and it cost him, as the ball bounced behind him to the wall, allowing Ramer to get to third.
That brought up Zach Gibbons, who bounced one back to Beckwith. Ramer came home, and so did Beckwith. The throw to catcher David Parrett was up the first base line, but Parrett caught it, and reached back to tag Ramer. The umpire called Ramer out at the plate, even though it appeared from the high angle that Ramer was safe.
The lower angle tells a slightly different story though.
It’s still amazing to think Arizona got to this point. This is a team with a first-year coaching staff, hadn’t been to a postseason since winning the 2012 National Championship, and was picked to finish ninth in the conference.
They wound up finishing third in the conference, but going 6-0 in elimination games before Thursday allowed them to be playing in the final game of the college baseball season. Don’t lose sight of that, and the direction this program is heading with one of the best coaching staffs in the country.