The 2016 College World Series champion Coastal Carolina baseball team received a token of its accomplishment on Saturday at Springs Brooks Stadium – championship rings. More than 40 rings were given to players, coaches and support staff during a 45-minute ceremony prior to the Chanticleers game against Western Carolina.
“Standing over there in the corner brought back one memory for me,” said head coach Gary Gilmore. “For you old timers, you may remember Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech about being the luckiest man in the world. I can promise you right now, living the dream that I did with that group of young men last year; the dream of this stadium becoming a reality; Teal Nation becoming a national phenomenon – that makes me the luckiest man in the world.”
ESPN reporter Kaylee Hartung, who traveled with the team during postseason play last year, emceed the ring ceremony, a surprise move after having her video message played in the stadium. Her reports in the dugout during Coastal Carolina’s run to the national championship helped introduce the world to the Chanticleers’ personality.
“There were so many things that I loved about that experience with the Chanticleers. I have never had more fun than I did every time I stepped into the Chanticleer dugout to interview Gary Gilmore,” Hartung said. “Certainly, it was fun to introduce a television audience to a shark, a monkey and a whole bunch of clowns. It was such an honor to be a part of that ride with you guys. There’s no way I would have missed a celebration like this with this team.”
The national championship rings feature Coastal Carolina’s block “C” in teal surrounded by diamonds with “National Champions” around the setting. On the left side of the ring is the 2016 College World Series logo, with the team’s final record of 55-18. On the opposite side are the player’s last name and number, Coastal Carolina University and the outline of a baseball stadium.
The rings were presented following video tributes to the Chanticleers, including messages from ESPN’s Karl Ravich and Hartung, along with former Coastal Carolina football players Mike Tolbert, currently with the Carolina Panthers and Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins. Ravich called Coastal’s championship his “number one memory from the summer,” while others expressed pride in Teal Nation.
“I want to give a big shout out to the baseball team, the Chants, for bringing home a national championship back home to Coastal Carolina,” Tolbert said. “You guys make us proud, you make Teal Nation proud, you make Panther Nation proud. We’re extremely happy for you guys. Congratulations.”
The ceremony ended with the raising of a teal flag beyond center field with the 2016 College World Series champions logo and a charge from Coastal Carolina University President Dr. David DeCenzo.
“As excited as we are for what our 2016 baseball team did, we all look forward to a return trip to Omaha.”
Following the ceremony, the Chanticleers and Catamounts took the field, with Western Carolina jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The defending national champions would fight back with three runs in the fourth inning to take a short-lived lead. Western Carolina would tie the game in the next half-inning on a bases loaded hit by pitch, and then take the lead by scoring on a double play. Billy Cooke would hit a dinger in the sixth inning to tie the game for Coastal Carolina.
Cameron Blaquiere singled in a run in the top of the eight to give the Catamounts a 5-4 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.