Names and numbers to know about LSU’s super regional opponent
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
The Baton Rouge Super Regional gets underway Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 8 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers are only two wins away from a return to Omaha, but they’ll have to go through Coastal Carolina to get there.
Not familiar with this particular club? No worries, here’s everything you need to know heading into this weekend.
The Nickname: Coastal Carolina is known as the Chanticleers. According to Google, a chanticleer is a name given to a mythical rooster, particularly in fairy tales. So that’s cool. Plus, let me tell you, it’s a fun word to type.
The Record: 47-16, 21-3 Big South Conference (automatic bid)
The Skinny: Coastal Carolina ran roughshod through the Big South Conference, dropping just three games during league play en route to both regular season and tournament titles. While that may not hold much cache to those used to following the ultra-tough SEC — in fact, Coastal Carolina has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt next month — they finished the season with an RPI at No. 12, the best among the No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve made the tournament six of the past seven years.
The Road to Baton Rouge: Champions of the Raleigh Regional, CCU staged an even more dramatic comeback than did LSU in order to advance past host North Carolina State. After beating St. Mary’s and N.C. State to advance through the winner’s bracket, the Wolfpack took the first regional final game to set up a decisive game for all the marbles. The game was suspended Monday with N.C. State leading 5-3 in the top of the ninth inning with CCU having the bases loaded and one out. When the game resumed Tuesday, CCU, down to its last out, scored four times to stun the hosts by a final score of 7-5.
The Common Ground: The Chanticleers share some common opponents with LSU, though most of those games came early on in the season. CCU dropped a 10-7 decision to Cincinnati back in March, a club LSU swept a three-game series from to begin the regular season. They did win a game against Ball State, which LSU took two of three from. CCU also played SEC foes Ole Miss and South Carolina, dropping single games to each. LSU lost two of three to the Rebels in Oxford and didn’t play the Gamecocks this season.
The Strength: In an age when power is difficult to come by, the Chanticleers have put up offensive numbers akin to some of the great LSU clubs of the Gorilla Ball era that’s long since passed. CCU has mashed 91 home runs this season, second only to Mercer (93) nationally. Equally impressive, they’ve hit .301 with an on-base percentage of .402 while doing it. For comparison’s sake, LSU has hit 45 home runs and hits .295 as a club. Only time will tell how that power will translate in the spacious confines of Alex Box Stadium. The Chanticleers aren’t just a crew of sluggers, though, they also stole 102 bases this season, tied for tenth-most nationally.
The ‘Dude’(s): Four Chanticleers have belted 15 or more home runs, and three of them — the 3-4-5 hitters in the everyday lineup — are hitting higher than .340 with more than 50 RBI, which more than meets the criteria. They are:
- RF Connor Owings LH (.373, 15 HR, 51 RBI, 146 TB, 14-15 SB-Attempts)
- 3B Zach Remillard RH (.348, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 158 TB, 12-14 SB-Attempts)
- DH G.K. Young LH (.342, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 146 TB, 1-2 SB-Attempts)
The Arms: Big South Pitcher of the Year Andrew Beckwith (12-1, 1.82 ERA) is as effective as he is versatile. The right-handed control pitcher made six starts among his 22 appearances, spanning 89 innings of work. He started and won CCU’s regional opener against St. Mary’s and picked up a second win with two innings of scoreless relief in the suspended championship game victory against N.C. State. Right-hander Alex Cunningham has been CCU’s most consistent starter this season, posting a 9-3 record and 3.66 ERA in 18 appearances (14 starts). He’s a power arm who struck out 90 while allowing just 92 hits in 98.1 innings of work. However, their best arm may be All-American closer Mike Morrison (7-1, 10 SV, 0.79 ERA), who tallied 77 strikeouts in 56.2 innings of relief while holding opponents to a .151 batting average.
The Question: Coastal Carolina went just 3-7 against opponents inside the top-25 in terms of RPI. Will this veteran club be able to handle the raucous, hostile environment of the Box?