June 24, 2012
Arizona 5, #8 South Carolina 1
Championship Series Game 1
Arizona extends win streak to
By Phil Stanton
and Sean Ryan
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
This was the first meeting between Arizona and South Carolina.
Arizona extended its win streak to 10 and remained undefeated in
the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have won 17 of their past 19
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
"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."
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.
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.
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.
In the 2012 CWS, the team that scores first is 11-3. The three
comeback wins have all been done by South Carolina.
After its two sacrifice bunts on Sunday, Arizona has 17 during
the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Its opponents have zero.
Arizona is 21-5 this season when scoring in the first, 27-6 when
scoring first, and 14-3 when hitting a home run.
Freshman Riley Moore went 3 for 4 on Sunday for Arizona, raising
his CWS batting average to .500 (7 for 14).
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.