White Sox

World Series Champs: White Sox draftees help Coastal Carolina win first college title

World Series Champs: White Sox draftees help Coastal Carolina win first college title

Coastal Carolina won its first national championship in any sport at the College World Series and two White Sox draft picks were a part of the fun.

Zach Remillard, an infielder drafted by the White Sox in the 10th round, and Mike Morrison, a right-handed pitcher drafted by the Sox in the 27th round, got to win a championship before they embark on their professional careers.

The Chanticleers entered with modest expecations. Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore often said he just wanted his team to reach the College World Series.

Until this week, he never imagined the Chanticleers would do so much more: They're heading back to Conway, South Carolina, with the school's first national championship in any sport.

The Chanticleers defeated Arizona 4-3 in the deciding Game 3 of the College World Series finals on Thursday, capitalizing on two errors on the same play to score four unearned runs in the sixth inning of a game delayed a day by bad weather.

It was worth the wait.

"Whenever I die, I'll know this group of guys here, they willed themselves to be the national champion," Gilmore said. "It was just meant to be, no doubt. If there is such a thing as a team of destiny, this group is it."

Coastal Carolina (55-18) became the first team since Minnesota in 1956 to win the title in its first CWS appearance. Arizona (49-24) was trying for its second national title since 2012, but came up just short in a season in which it was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12.

"Amazing season, and they're a deserving champion," first-year Wildcats coach Jay Johnson said of the Chanticleers. "We played as good as we possibly could this year, and they're the best team we've played."

Andrew Beckwith (15-1), the national leader in wins, went 5 2/3 innings after pitching two complete games and picked up his third victory of the CWS. He was named the Most Outstanding Player.

"He's been coaching for 21 years, and he deserves every bit of it," Beckwith said of Gilmore. "We got him to Omaha and we got him a national championship. The senior class, the hard work in the fall, the dedication of the guys who don't play much -- it doesn't go unnoticed. It was a full team effort the whole College World Series, and we got it done."

Alex Cunningham earned his first save, striking out Ryan Haug with a full-count fastball to end the game after Arizona had pulled within a one in the bottom of the ninth. When Haug swung and missed, Cunningham turned to his dugout, beat his chest with his fist three times and saluted before flipping his glove away to start the celebration.

"The running joke is that in high school I lost the state championship three times in a row. I was not going to lose this one, I promise you that," Cunningham said.

The championship was the first in a team sport in the 33-year history of the Big South Conference. The Big South could savor the accomplishment for only about eight hours. The Chanticleers will become members of the Sun Belt Conference on Friday.

"This program has been a lot better than people give it credit for,'' Gilmore said. "They thought we played in a small conference and couldn't get this done. This bunch wanted to prove everybody wrong.''

Arizona, which came into the day with just two errors in seven CWS games, saw second baseman Cody Ramer commit two on the same play in the sixth inning. He couldn't get a handle on a grounder, allowing David Parrett to score from third. Then Ramer tried to get Michael Paez running from second to third, but he overthrew Kyle Lewis. That allowed Paez to come home.

G.K. Young then launched a no-doubt homer into the seats above the right-field bullpen for a 4-0 lead.

"It's the best feeling of my life," Young said. "I'm trying not to cry right now. Just dreaming of that in my head since I was 10 years old, hitting a home run in the College World Series. I never would have thought it would come in the championship game."

The Wildcats cut the lead in half with two unearned runs in the bottom half of the sixth against a tiring Beckwith. Arizona's Bobby Dalbec (11-6) worked 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight to increase his CWS total to 25 in 20 innings.

Arizona's first two batters in the bottom of the ninth reached base against Cunningham, and Gibbons' sacrifice fly made it a one-run game with two outs. Ryan Aguilar then doubled into the left-field corner, but Ramer was held at third because Anthony Marks was able to get the ball back to the infield so quickly.

"That's the play of the season in college baseball," Johnson said. "We play aggressively, but Cody would have been out by 100 feet -- and I know it's only 90 feet. I can't believe the play that was made."

As for the two White Sox draft picks, Remillard and Morrison, both are seniors so they will be expected to sign and join one of the two White Sox rookie affiliates, in Great Falls, Mont., or at the club's spring training complex in Arizona, in the coming weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: