TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY

ONE PITCH

  It can’t get more exciting than the final pitch of the College World Series last week.
  Coastal Carolina led 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
  Arizona had runners on second and third.
  The Wildcat batter had a 2-2 count.
  Everything for which this two teams had worked the entire season was coming down to one pitch.
  If the Arizona batter got a hit, two runs score and the Wildcats win the title.
  If the Chanticleer pitcher struck the batter out, Coastal makes history.
  I’m sure all who were watching were like me, sitting on the edge of our chairs.
  Then it happened - STRIKE THREE!
  Most of the baseball fans in the State of South Carolina, including Gamecocks and Tigers, started to celebrate.
  This may be the first time I remember Carolina and Clemson fans joining forces and pulling for another team in the state, one that made it the World Series, while their teams didn’t.
  Oh, some were not as enthusiastic, thinking Coastal’s success will hurt recruiting for Carolina and Clemson.
  That may be true. Of course, Gamecock fans can ask how the World Series MVP from Blythewood and two players from Gilbert made it to the coast from the Columbia area.
  There are plenty of baseball players around to be recruited.
  When the World Series field was finalized, I was pulling for Oklahoma State and Coastal to play for the championship.
  I learned to respect the Cowboys from what they did to Clemson and Carolina in back to back series.
  Arizona beat Oklahoma State out of the losers bracket by doing something Clemson and Carolina were unable to do - get past the top two pitchers.
  The same two Cowboy pitchers eliminated Carolina and Clemson in two games. Those two couldn’t pitch every game in Omaha, and the Cowboys went down. If only Carolina or Clemson could have won one game against Oklahoma State, one of them may have made it to Omaha.
  Like Arizona, Coastal made it to the finals from the losers bracket, having to beat TCU twice.
  Coastal made this state very proud.
  Cinderella? Not hardly.
  When you beat N.C. State and LSU at their places to make it to Omaha, you are no Cinderella. You are a legitimate baseball power.
  Gamecocks fans remember the Super Regional held in Myrtle Beach in 2010, when Coastal, not Carolina, was the host.
  The Gamecocks had to win two one run games to make it to Omaha, and eventually win the National Championship.
  I don’t think anyone will ever forget Coastal Carolina now.
  The Chants won the Big South Conference’s first ever national championship in any sport,  and a few hours after they got home to Conway, they officially joined the Sun Belt Conference. That had been in the works for a long time, but it is a little ironic.
  Saluda had a little input into the National Championship. Did you know that?
  Dylan Richardson is the digital broadcast coordinator at Coastal. He was in Omaha filming.
  His mother is the former Neal Sample of Saluda.
  Monday, I got an email from Saluda native Jeanne Brickley Nicholl. She included a photo of her son Rod holding the National Championship trophy in Omaha.
  Rob, a 2014 graduate, is on the Coastal athletic department staff.
  I’ve written both mothers to see of their two sons know each other, and know both their mothers are from Saluda!
  I’ll print here something I posted on Facebook:
  College baseball in South Carolina: Clemson won the ACC tournament championship, got a Top Eight seed and had the national Player of the Year; Carolina won the SEC East, hosted a Super Regional, and had the national Freshman Pitcher of the Year; Lander was in the final three in the Division II World Series and was ranked 4th in the nation; and, oh yeah, Coastal Carolina won the NCAA World Series, the national champs. Pretty impressive for a little state!
  I didn’t include the fact a team from South Carolina has won three of the last seven College World Series championships,  and played in four of the last seven championship finals.
  It was Arizona that prevented Carolina’s “three-peat” in 2013.
  Thanks, Coastal, for getting revenge on the Wildcats!

ALWAYS LEARNING

  We had Communion at Emory Sunday, and Monday, thanks to Facebook, I learned something I never knew.
  Did you know you can thank the Methodists for Welch’s Grape Juice?
  Apparently, in the old days wine was used for communion in Methodist churches. Then, the temperance movement started going strong and an alternative was sought for alcoholic wine for communion.
  Some suggested water be used, since Jesus turned water into wine. Some tried making grape juice, but when they stored it, it fermented!
  So, a good Methodist named Thomas Welch heard about what Louis Pasteur was doing with pasteurization, so using that principle, he developed grape juice that could be stored without the threat of fermentation, and from that the Welch’s company was born.
  My family has been going to Emory Church since 1842, and I’m just now learning about Welch’s Grape Juice!