June 24, 2012

CBI Live: Arizona 5, #8 South Carolina 1


CWS Championship Series Game 1

Arizona extends win streak to 10

By Phil Stanton and Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founders

@roadtoomaha, @collbaseball


l In the first nine years of the CWS championship series, seven teams that won Game 1 went on to win the national title. Five winners of Game 1 won Game 2 to complete the sweep. In the four splits of the first two games, two Game 1 winners won Game 3, while two Game 1 losers won Game 3.


Win, Win: Cal State Fullerton 2004, Texas 2005, Oregon State 2007, South Carolina 2010, South Carolina 2011


Win, Loss, Win: Rice 2003, LSU 2009


Loss, Win, Win: Oregon State 2006, Fresno State 2008


l This was the first meeting between Arizona and South Carolina.


l Arizona extended its win streak to 10 and remained undefeated in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have won 17 of their past 19 contests.


l It was quite a scene before the first game of the College World Series championship series between Arizona and South Carolina.

Former VMI pitcher Willie Lyles, a captain in the Army who lost both legs during an attack in Afghanistan in August of 2010, was recognized prior to the game on Military Night at TD Ameritrade Park.

"Willie was that guy, everybody loved him," said Josh Owens, who entered VMI when Lyles was a junior. "He was there for everybody. It didn't matter what class you were in."

At VMI, being there for a younger teammate (especially a freshman in the rat line), is special.

Owens and his former teammates had heard about Lyles' injuries, which also included a broken hand and burns, while at a wedding for another teammate. About a year after his injuries, Owens said Lyles, who graduated in 2002, started sending videos of his rehabilitation - starting when he had been fitted for his prosthetic legs and was able to throw a baseball again.

Some of the former Keydets saw their former teammate for the first time at a wedding last fall. Owens said they expected him to be down.

"He was the same old guy," said Owens, who hosted a New Year's Eve party in Lyles' honor to ring in 2012. "It was like being back at VMI again."


l There was a slight delay in the bottom of the sixth as a female fan ran on the field toward third base coach Matt Siegel of Arizona. She was quickly escorted off the field by security.


l Robert Refsnyder has made an impact since he arrived in Tucson.

While he bounced around defensively as a freshman - he played first, second, third and left when he wasn't a designated hitter - he showed early that he could hit, batting .344 with two homers and 40 RBI. Now he's a right-fielder who has started 179 of his 181 career games.

His opposite-field, two-run homer in the first inning sparked the Wildcats. Refsnyder later gunned down Adam Matthews at third base for the first out of the seventh inning as the Gamecocks were trying to rally from a 4-1 deficit.

"I really wasn't expecting Matthews to go," Refsnyder said.

Refsnyder, a .340 career hitter, has been in the middle of most everything for Arizona in Omaha, hitting .444 (8 for 18) in four CWS games with five runs and five RBI. He has reached base safely in 38 straight games.


l The home run by Refsnyder snapped a streak of 77.0 homerless innings by the South Carolina pitching staff. The Gamecocks had not surrendered a homer since June 2.


l In the 2012 CWS, the team that scores first is 11-3. The three comeback wins have all been done by South Carolina.


l After its two sacrifice bunts on Sunday, Arizona has 17 during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Its opponents have zero.


l Arizona is 21-5 this season when scoring in the first, 27-6 when scoring first, and 14-3 when hitting a home run.


l Freshman Riley Moore went 3 for 4 on Sunday for Arizona, raising his CWS batting average to .500 (7 for 14).


l Christian Walker of South Carolina now has 27 career CWS hits, second all-time to the 28 by Dustin Ackley of North Carolina. He has 71 career CWS at-bats, trailing only Garrett Gore and Chad Flack of North Carolina, who both have 73.