They were up. Then they were down. Then they went back up. Then back down. Up. Down. And then, in the bottom of the ninth, Zach Minnick delivered the final blow with a walkoff sacrifice fly to put the Campbell up 9-8 over Quinnipiac and advance to the final of the NCAA Greenville Regional.
“Let me catch my breath after that one,” Campbell coach Justin Haire said with a laugh in his opening remark. “That was a very fun game and our guys just kept responding. We had chapel this morning and we talked about the winner’s edge and just have a deep-seated belief in each other and that we were just going to find a way. These guys just kept believing.”
Matthew Barefoot had two hits, including a home run, two runs scored and one RBI and Grant Harris had two hits to lead the Camels. Tyler Anshaw added a double and two runs scored. Koby Collins homered and scored two runs, including the game-winning run. Collin Wolf had a hit, two runs scored and two RBIs. Matthew Christian had a double and an RBI.
It was a back-and-forth game that saw the lead change hands six different times. Asked whether it was fun to be a part of, Barefoot said “Absolutely.”
“Other than having a heart attack,” he joked. “It was exciting. Everybody’s engaged, the fans are engaged. Everyone in the dugout is trying to use every bit of energy they have, and coming up clutch in the last inning, it’s unbelievable how it worked out. It could not have worked out any better in my opinion, giving us an extra little edge going into the championship.”
Campbell trailed 8-7 going into the bottom of the ninth. After Quinnipiac closer Andrew Workman plunked back-to-back batters, Christian roped a pinch-hit, RBI double into center field to tie the game and move Collins to third base with one out. Minnick followed up with the game-winning sacrifice fly.
“All the glory goes to Matthew Christian for doing exactly what he was put in the game to do,” Minnick said. “He made my job a lot easier.”
Campbell got out to an early lead in the bottom of the first. Anshaw ripped a double into the right-center gap, and scored on a groundout by Luis Gimenez.
Quinnipiac went ahead in the top of the third, scoring three runs on four hits and a sac fly to go up 3-1. But Campbell promptly responded with three runs in the bottom half, capitalizing on a couple of Bobcat errors to reclaim the lead 4-3.
Quinnipiac tacked on two more in the top of the fourth, scoring one on an RBI single and plating another on a double play ball to go up 5-4. The Camels re-energized the crowd in the bottom of the fifth though with back-to-back solo jacks from Collin Wolf and Koby Collins, retaking the lead 6-5.
Quinnipiac went back in front on a two-run single in the top of the eighth, but Barefoot tied the game at 7-7 in the bottom half with a laser-shot to left for a solo dinger.
A big key for the Camels down the stretch has been their ability to respond whenever the other team throws a punch. It’s that kind of resiliency that helped get them through the Big South Championship game, where they trailed Winthrop for much of the game, and it showed again on Sunday.
“I think overall, we don’t have many ‘me’ guys on this team. We have ‘we’ guys that want to come out and do everything for this team,” Barefoot said. “All our guys love each other, and I think that’s the number one biggest reason why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
ECU beat Quinnipiac 13-3 in the elimination game Sunday night to advance to the final. The Pirates needed to win two games on Monday to advance to the Super Regional, while the Camels only needed to win one. Game one was played at 1 p.m. For further updates, check the online edition of this story.