Gorman: Montour grad Marks becomes a College World Series hero
Terri Chrise was incognito in Omaha, Neb., wearing Coastal Carolina colors but nothing to identify her as the mother of the most popular baseball player at the College World Series.
“People were coming up and saying, ‘I love this team,' ” said Chrise of Kennedy Township. “When I told them my son was the left fielder, they were saying, ‘Oh, I love Anthony Marks.' ”
Marks, a Montour grad, was the catalyst for Coastal Carolina's run to the NCAA championship.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior, a former walk-on, was the bearded face of a team that went down to the last strike in the NCAA Regionals, won on a walk-off single in the Super Regional and won five total elimination games before beating Arizona in the best-of-three final. In the end, Coastal Carolina became the first school since Minnesota in 1956 to win the CWS in its first appearance.
“Some people are still going to say we got lucky,” Marks said afterward. “And that's fine. They can say whatever they want. It ain't luck. It's blood, sweat and tears.”
Lots and lots of tears.
Chrise was crying from the stands, watching her son serve as spark plug.
“My son, his love for the game definitely shows,” Chrise said. “He loves the game of baseball. He loves to play, and it shows. And I think it's contagious.”
Crying certainly was.
Jeff Rubinsak was in tears while watching Marks, considering that he discovered Marks at Montour when he was an assistant coach at West Mifflin. Rubinsak helped steer Marks to Coastal Carolina when Point Park and W&J were his only offers.
Marks drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored the winning run to beat LSU in the Super Regional. He scored the winning run in a 2-1 victory over No. 1 Florida. He went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and a run in the Game 2 victory over Arizona.
But it was a defensive play by Marks that served as a throwback, one Arizona coach Jay Johnson called “the play of the season in college baseball.”
With two outs in the ninth and Coastal Carolina leading 4-3 in Game 3, Arizona's Ryan Aguilar doubled to left. Marks played the ball perfectly off the corner wall and hit the cutoff to hold Cody Raymer at third and prevent the tying run.
“You gotta tip your hat to Anthony,” Johnson said. “I can't believe he made the play and got there as quickly as he did.”
Rubinsak remembers Marks making a similar play eight years earlier, on a shot to the right-center gap that should have been an automatic triple. Instead, Marks, then a freshman at Montour, got to the ball so quickly that the runner held up at first.
Rubinsak, who played for Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore at South Carolina-Aiken, called Gilmore on his way home.
“Gilly loves the speed game and tough kids,” Rubinsak said. “My exact words were, ‘Gilly, he'll run through a wall for you.' The rest is history.”
Bypassed in the MLB Draft, Marks played as if every game was his last, even ceremoniously leaving his cleats in center.
“It is a pinch-me moment, but we've always believed in him,” Chrise said. “Just like I told my son, ‘If it was easy, it wouldn't be for you.'
“When he walked on, we believed he'd make it. Even now, we believe he's going to get a call. He doesn't believe he's done playing baseball. He definitely left his heart out there, I know that.”
Marks didn't just leave his heart in Omaha. He captured the hearts of college baseball fans along the way to a championship.