June 24, 2012

CWS Championship Series Game 1 Notes


Wade goes the distance as Arizona tops South Carolina

Refsnyder with key two-run homer in first for Wildcats


By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


Photo by Pete LaFleur, CollegeBaseball360.com, @CB360updates


OMAHA, Neb. – The Wildcats are one win away from a title.


Sophomore right-hander Konner Wade (right) tossed his second complete game in Omaha as Arizona knocked off No. 8 South Carolina 5-1 Sunday in the first game of the College World Series championship series in front of 24,748 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.


The teams will meet in Game 2 on Monday, June 25, at 7 p.m. CT. A win by the Wildcats (47-17) gives them their fourth national championship. A victory by the Gamecocks (49-19) forces a third and deciding game on Tuesday.


Wade (11-3) allowed six hits and one earned run in his nine innings with one walk and three strikeouts. He registered 10 outs via ground balls and 13 by fly balls. It was his sixth complete game of the season.


“Once again, Konner was outstanding,” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “Marvelous, marvelous job. He has tremendous arm-side sink, has a really good changeup with arm-side sink as well. He gets a lot of swing‑throughs, he also gets a lot of ground balls. They just don't square him up very easily when he's throwing strikes.


“He's got three complete games in his last three starts in postseason. That's pretty impressive.”


Wade pitched a five-hit shutout on June 17 in the College World Series against UCLA, a 4-0 decision with no walks and four strikeouts. Wade also went the distance in the clinching game of the Super Regional against Louisville, allowing six hits and four runs (two earned) with no walks and two strikeouts in a 7-4 victory.


“I thought a big key to that game was what Konner Wade was able to do for Arizona on the mound,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “He was outstanding. We just couldn't get in a situation to do anything offensively. He kept making big pitches when he needed to, and they played solid defense out there.”


Wade is the first pitcher to throw consecutive complete games in the College World Series since Jason Windsor of Cal State Fullerton in 2004. Wade is the first pitcher since at least 2005 to hurl three consecutive complete games in the NCAA Tournament.


Sophomore right-hander Forrest Koumas (2-3, 2.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) took the loss in the start for the two-time defending national champion. Freshman righty Evan Beal (5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) kept South Carolina in the contest in relief.


Arizona shortstop Alex Mejia started a critical double play in the top of the first. After Joey Pankake reached on an error to start the game, Evan Marzilli hit a grounder up the middle. Mejia dove to his left to field the ball, made a back-hand flip while lying on his stomach to second baseman Trent Gilbert, who threw on to first to complete the outstanding double play.


“To be honest,” Mejia said, “the way Wade was pitching, obviously there's a little effect. It takes them out of a big inning. But the way he pitches and the way he's been pitching, I feel safe in allowing those two runners to get on because he's done such a tremendous job.”


Wade had first-pitch strikes to each of the first nine hitters. He did not allow a runner past second until the sixth.


The Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the frame. Johnny Field singled to left with one away and moved to second on a groundout. Robert Refsnyder belted a homer into the bullpen to the opposite field in right, his eighth, to give Arizona a 2-0 advantage.


“The wind was blowing out, so that helped a little bit,” Refsnyder said. “I forget what the count was. I know it was two strikes. I wanted to put a good swing on it. I knew if we got the team on the board right there, it's going to settle the team down so we could just go out and play good baseball. I was fortunate enough to run into it. Sometimes you close your eyes and swing really hard, good things happen.”


Arizona added to its lead in the third. Trent Gilbert reached on an error to start the inning and moved to second on a base hit by Joey Rickard. One out later, Mejia singled to left center to drive in Gilbert to make it 3-0. Mejia took second on the throw, so Refsnyder was intentionally walked to load the bases. Beal relieved Koumas and induced a double play to end the threat.


The Wildcats scored again in the fifth. Field drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and on to third on an error. With two away, Seth Mejias-Brean singled up the middle to plate Field and extend the lead to 4-0.


The Gamecocks got on the board in the top of the sixth. Grayson Greiner had a leadoff double to left center. With two away, Marzilli singled up the middle to drive in Greiner and make it 4-1. It ended Wade’s scoreless streak in Omaha at 14.2 innings.


South Carolina threatened in the top of the seventh. Adam Matthews had a leadoff single to left center. Kyle Martin had a sharp base hit to right. Matthews rounded second and sprinted toward third. Refsnyder fired a bullet to Mejias-Brean at third, nailing Matthews. A groundout and a flyout ended the threat.


“I can't say enough about my defense tonight,” Wade said. “They really picked me up in some big situations. The first-inning double play could have prevented a really big inning. And then Rob getting the first out at third. It was huge, knowing that you can pitch to contact with this defense behind you.”


Arizona added on in the seventh. Refsnyder had a one-out single, moved to second on a groundout and scored on a base hit by Bobby Brown to push the advantage to 5-1.


The Wildcats had opportunities for additional runs, but stranded 11.