The 2016 College World Series will all come down to one game when the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and Arizona Wildcats meet in Game 3 of the series on Wednesday night.
Like Freddy, Jason or any other good villain from a slasher movie, no one has been able to get rid of the Chants in postseason play. The Wildcats became the most recent team to find that out. NC State had them on the brink of elimination in the Raleigh Regional. TCU had them on the ropes in Bracket 1, and Arizona won the first game in the final series at Omaha.
Yet the Chants have come back every time to exact revenge. With a 5-4 win over the Wildcats in Game 2, Coastal Carolina's storybook season was extended to a Game 3.
Here's a look at all the information you need to catch the game along with some players to watch.
|College World Series 2016 Final Game 3|
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|June 29||Coastal Carolina vs. Arizona||8 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Coastal Carolina: Anthony Marks
This is a Coastal Carolina team with a lot of personality. No one plays with more personality than Marks. The senior leadoff man has been electric in the postseason, and his passion is evident on the field.
Marks was instrumental in Game 2. He went 3-for-4 at the plate with a run and these two RBI to give Coastal the lead early in the game:
Beyond the simple production that Marks brought to the plate, coaches and teammates are complimentary of the energy he brings to the team.
"As much as Mike (Morrison) is on one end, Anthony Marks is that spark-plug guy on the other end," Coastal coach Gary Gilmore said, per Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball. "Heck, he got three huge hits for us today. I mean, he was on the base all the time."
Mike Morrison—who struck out 10 in Game 2 on the hill—touched on the maturation process that Marks has gone through in four years at CCU.
"The growing up he's done over the four years is unbelievable," Morrison said of Marks. "For him, if you guys knew him to see where he is at today, four years ago, when he walked in this place, he's very, very special and he's going to dominate in whatever he does in his life."
In a winner-takes-all situation, it's seniors like Marks who you'd expect to step up and take a big role. Whether it's encouraging his teammates with the game in question or coming up with a big hit when they need it most, expect Marks to make an impact on Game 3.
Arizona: Nathan Bannister
Going against the electric offense of CCU, pitching will play a key role for Arizona. If Nathan Bannister is able to perform near his peak form, that will be a huge step toward the Wildcats winning the title.
Unfortunately for Arizona, that's far from a guarantee.
Bannister was pulled from his last start against Oklahoma State after just 2.2 innings due to injury. The 12-2 pitcher had gone no fewer than six innings in the postseason up until that moment.
Bannister was one of the most accomplished pitchers in the nation this season, with a 12-2 record and a WHIP of 0.96. He has been both effective and prolific on the hill with more than 140 innings pitched on the year. However, that's a lot of wear and tear in a season, and it'll be interesting to see if that affects the way he pitches against the Chants.
According to Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star, Bannister will be available to pitch, but it's unclear just how healthy he is.
If Bannister is anything less than 100 percent, that could be bad news against a Coastal lineup that has four players with more than 15 home runs this season. Just how well Bannister pitches could shape the narrative of this game in a major way early on.
Coastal Carolina: Andrew Beckwith
On the other side of the coin, the Chanticleers will be dealing with some pitching uncertainty as well. Andrew Beckwith has been the ace for Coastal all season, but what role he will play in Game 3 is still in doubt.
If it decides that CCU can use Beckwith in a relief role, that would be huge for the Chanticleers.
With Beckwith and Alex Cunningham unavailable in a do-or-die game, Gilmore and his staff turned to the closer, Mike Morrison, to make the start in Game 2. His 10 strikeouts over 6.2 innings and two earned runs were key to keeping Arizona at bay and winning.
It does leave them without a closer ostensibly, though, should they need one in Game 3.
That's where Beckwith could come into play. With both pitching staffs battling fatigue, the ability to have a pitcher of Beckwith's caliber will be crucial, even if only in an inning or two of relief.
He led the nation in wins this season, but he might just be the one who picks up a save as this game could come down to the wire.
Prediction: Coastal Carolina 6, Arizona 5