OMAHA—For nine innings Sunday night, Coastal Carolina righthander Andrew Beckwith mixed multiple pitches from multiple arm slots to handcuff Florida’s offense. He needed 98 pitches to throw the first complete game of his career and lead the Chanticleers to a 2-1 victory against the Gators, the No. 1 national seed.
|Turning Point: Coastal Carolina third baseman Zach Remillard crushed a ball—likely a home run anywhere else—off of Logan Shore in the sixth, resulting in a triple and bringing home the eventual game-winning run. Remillard drove in both runs for the Chanticleers on Sunday night, driving in the game’s first run on a third-inning ground-rule double that was initially ruled foul.
The Hero: Coastal Carolina righthander Andrew Beckwith earned his 13th—and biggest—win of the season with a sterling complete-game, one-run effort. He struck out seven, walked none and scattered seven hits, with his lone blemish an RBI single by pinch-hitter Jeremy Vasquez. Beckwith finished his first career complete game using just 98 pitches—the fewest by any College World Series pitcher to throw nine or more innings since 1981.
You Might Have Missed: Florida righthander Dane Dunning entered the game for Shore with Remillard on third and no outs, and he managed to escape the jam with no damage done. Dunning threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings, continuing his excellent postseason pitching. In five NCAA tournament appearances, Dunning has allowed just one earned run in 14 1/3 innings. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game he thought Dunning was one of his team’s MVPs this season.
It was a masterful performance on the biggest stage of college baseball, and gave Coastal a victory in its College World Series debut. The win sends Coastal to a matchup with Texas Christian on Tuesday evening, while Florida will face Texas Tech, the No. 5 national seed, in an elimination game earlier that day.
Beckwith (13-1, 2.02) was at the heart of it all, holding Florida to one run on seven hits. He struck out seven, walked none and retired the final 10 batters he faced. But as good as Beckwith was Sunday, Coastal pitching coach Drew Thomas was not surprised by his ace’s performance.
“He’s been that way all year,” Thomas said. “He fought it a little bit in the super, but that was off two emotional outings in the regional. That’s who he is—fastball to both sides of the plate, adds and subtracts on it, slider when he needs it. Been that way all year.”
Beckwith said he felt good Sunday.
“Tonight was just fun,” Beckwith said. “My defense picked me up and we got more runs than them.”
Beckwith is primarily a two-pitch pitcher, using his fastball and slider to pitch to contact and create weak ground ball outs. He creates a tough matchup for teams because he throws both over the top and from a sidearm angle, getting more cut on his fastball from the overhand slot and more run and sink from the sidearm angle. He even mixed in about "four or five" curveballs, he said, a pitch he rarely uses, getting a strikeout with one against Jonathan India.
But no matter what angle he’s throwing from, Beckwith is not overpowering. He can run his fastball into the upper 80s when throwing overhand, but he relies more on deception, location and his feel for pitching to get outs.
There are few pitchers like Beckwith in the country, and Florida hitters struggled to adjust to the unique look he presented.
“There’s no way to simulate it,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “There’s no one in our league. There’s no one that does it. We tried to do the best we could preparing our guys.”
O’Sullivan said he thought the best plan of attack was to attack Beckwith’s sinker. But the Gators were unable to do more than beat the sinker into the ground and hit 15 ground balls that turned into outs, including two double plays.
Thomas said he thought Beckwith improved throughout the game as the Gators became more frustrated at the plate.
“I thought they got more aggressive as the game went on and got more uncomfortable,” Thomas said. “And I thought he took advantage of that.”
Coastal got Beckwith just enough offense, scratching out two runs against All-American righthander Logan Shore (12-1, 2.31). The Chanticleers struck first with a two-out double in the third inning from Zach Remillard that landed on the right-field line. The ball was initially ruled foul on the field, but after the first replay review in CWS history, it was called fair and Coastal had a 1-0 lead. After Florida tied the game in the fifth on a pinch-hit single from Jeremy Vasquez, Coastal pushed back ahead in the sixth. Remillard again provided the big hit, driving a triple to left center to bring home Connor Owings and end Shore’s night.
Beckwith made the slim margin stand up, sticking with his game plan and keeping the Gators off balance.
“I’m a contact pitcher, and I really do trust my defense,” he said. “You’ve just got to let your defense work in that situation, and I have a lot of trust in them.”
Coastal has as much trust in Beckwith as he does in his defense. He started the year as the Chanticleers' shutdown reliever, but has quickly become their ace after moving into the rotation late in the season, a role he also filled late in 2015. And with Sunday’s victory, he shares the program record for most wins in a season.
Gary Gilmore is in his 21st season as the coach at his alma mater, but said he’s never had a pitcher quite like Beckwith. And thanks to the unique look he creates, Gilmore and Coastal have their first-ever CWS victory and are moving on in the winner’s bracket.
“He had a great game tonight,” Gilmore said. “He was very good. And, like I said all year long, he’s the best bullpen guy in the country. But he keeps proving me wrong that he’s a legit starter.”