MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Unlikely heroics propel Coastal Carolina in CWS

Defensive-minded catcher plates 3 on 2 hits to stave off elimination

Unlikely heroics propel Coastal Carolina in CWS

OMAHA, Neb. -- To make an extended run at the College World Series, teams usually need contributions from unexpected sources. Coastal Carolina got exactly that Thursday night, advancing to the semifinals thanks to unlikely hitting heroics from senior catcher David Parrett.

Parrett, a defensive specialist who shares time behind the plate for the Chanticleers, went undrafted two weeks ago and entered Thursday's game batting .130. He was just 1-for-6 in the NCAA postseason before matching his season highs with two hits and three RBIs as Coastal Carolina (51-17) eliminated Texas Tech (47-20) with a 7-5 victory.

"He's the most fit guy, the hardest-working guy, the most positive young man," Chanticleers coach Gary Gilmore said. "He's had one of those seasons up until today you kind of want to forget about, compared to what he did last year. And there's a way that the game evens itself out over a season, he's had a couple of moments here and there down the stretch. And then today was the crowning moment, because we've been fighting it a little offensively as far as getting some hits and things and putting some things together, especially the bottom half or our lineup."

Batting ninth, Parrett opened the game's scoring with an RBI single off freshman left-hander Erikson Lanning in the top of the second inning. Three frames later, he singled off junior righty Robert Dugger to provide two insurance runs that stretched Coastal's lead to 7-3 and ultimately proved the difference in the game.

"The mindset for today was that it's a one-game season," Parrett said. "That's what it came down to today. And this group of guys doesn't want to say goodbye to each other yet. So living for tomorrow and playing today has been awesome."

The 12 combined runs scored Thursday were the most in a CWS that averaged 4.7 runs in its first nine games and still is on pace to match 2014 as the lowest-scoring Series ever. The Chanticleers' three-run outbursts in the third and fifth innings were fueled by three Red Raiders errors, with all six of those runs were unearned.

The best pro prospect on either team, freshman right-hander Jason Bilous, started for Coastal and showed a 94-95-mph fastball during the first inning. But he gave up a three-run double to junior right fielder Stephen Smith (the Diamondbacks' 10th-round pick) in a second inning that could have been worse if not for a strong throw by junior shortstop Michael Paez (Mets, fourth round) to Parrett erasing a runner at the plate earlier in the frame. When two of the first three runners reached against Bilous in the bottom of the third, Gilmore turned the game over to his bullpen.

Coastal Carolina reliever Mike Morrison struck out six Texas Tech batters. (AP)

Senior right-hander Mike Morrison (White Sox, 27th round) got out of the jam and went on to set season highs for innings (4 1/3) and pitches (83). He struck out six and kept Texas Tech scoreless until he ran out of gas in the seventh. After the Red Raiders scored twice to cut the lead to 7-5, sophomore righty Bobby Holmes struck out junior pinch-hitter Ryan Long to end the threat and closed out the game for his fourth save.

"The two guys out of their bullpen we knew were going to be good," Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock said. "I knew they were pitchability guys, and they showed that."

Coastal Carolina, the first Big South Conference team ever to reach the CWS, became the first team since Vanderbilt in 2011 to win twice in its initial appearance in Omaha.

"I'm very proud of our guys," Gilmore said. "Obviously, the teams we've beaten to get here and the two teams we've been fortunate to beat while we've been out here has been an incredible experience. ... A lot of people thought we just wanted to come out here. Well, I think they've shown they want to stay out here."

To advance to next week's best-of-three championship series, Coastal Carolina will have to beat Texas Christian (49-16) today and Saturday. The Horned Frogs defeated the Chanticleers 6-1 in a second-round matchup on Tuesday. The expected pitching matchup in the rematch is pair of junior right-handers, Coastal's Andrew Beckwith (who threw a complete game to defeat No. 1 national seed Florida on Sunday) versus TCU's Mitchell Traver.

Friday's games
Arizona at Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. ET (Arizona eliminated with loss)
Coastal Carolina at Texas Christian, 8 p.m. ET (Coastal Carolina eliminated with loss)

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.