Editor's note: This feature first appeared June 2 as the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers began working toward qualifying for the College World Series. Coastal Carolina will face Arizona in the first game of a best-of-three CWS final Monday after defeating Texas Christian University on Saturday night. See attached game story for details.
In his Lexington, S.C., hotel room with roommate Kieton Rivers and a handful of other teammates on the eve of the Big South championship game, Cameron Pearcey shared a reason why Saturday’s game was especially thrilling for the Coastal Carolina freshman. The second baseman had a successful enough career at Lakewood Ranch for the Chanticleers to recruit him, but Pearcey had never played in a championship game before. An automatic berth to the NCAA tournament was on the line, and Pearcey had never had to prepare for anything like it.
Senior pitcher Mike Morrison urged Pearcey not to be worried. He assured him CCU would win, detailing exactly how the day and game would go.
“And it played out the exact way,” Pearcey said.
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This weekend, the stakes will be even bigger, even though Pearcey isn’t a staple in Coastal Carolina’s lineup this season because of how experienced and talented the Chanticleers are. Ten CCU players have played in at least 50 games this season. Six are upperclassmen and none are freshmen. Coastal Carolina has a team batting average of
.301 and its slugging percentage of .493 is nearly 150 points higher than opponents’.
This sort of success has become typical in Conway, S.C., where CCU has been one of the most consistent mid-major programs during Gary Gilmore’s 20 years as head coach. Pearcey, who was a first-team All-Area selection for the Mustangs last spring, hasn’t cracked the lineup consistently because freshmen at Coastal Carolina rarely do. Pearcey’s 28 games played are 13th among position players and the second baseman’s seven starts rank 11th. In 42 plate appearances, Pearcey is only batting .182, but has a .333 on-base percentage. He’s also stolen two bases, homered once, driven in five runs and scored seven times.
“I’ve been here since July, and there’s a lot of hard work that goes into having a season like this,” Pearcey said. “It’s been a long process and a lot of attention to detail to get to where we are right now and achieve the goals we have.”
Still, this weekend he will be in Raleigh, N.C., as the tournament begins following the Chanticleers’ best season since they hosted a super regional in 2010. CCU was somewhat of a surprising snub from hosting a regional, instead being chosen as the No. 2 seed in the North Carolina State-hosted four-team region. Coastal Carolina begins its tournament Friday at 2 p.m. against No. 3-seed St. Mary’s. Top-seeded NC State hosts No. 4-seed Navy in the second game at 5 p.m.
The double-elimination bracket continues play Saturday and concludes either Sunday or Monday, if a seventh game is necessary. The winner of the regional moves on to a super regional the following weekend against the winner of the Baton Rouge, La., regional hosted by LSU.
“Obviously, our goal is to get to a super regional, but we know you can’t underestimate any team,” Pearcey said. “We’ve got to bring it.”