June 25, 2012

CWS Championship Series Game 2 Notes


Arizona edges South Carolina to claim national title

Dixon, Gilbert deliver key ninth-inning hits for Wildcats


By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


Photos by Pete LaFleur, CollegeBaseball360.com, @CB360updates


OMAHA, Neb. – The king is dead, long live the king.


Arizona scored three in the top of the ninth and hung on to defeat two-time defending national champion South Carolina 4-1 Monday to sweep the College World Series championship series in front of 23,872 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.


The Wildcats (48-17) claim their four national title and first since 1986. The Gamecocks (49-20) finished second for the fourth time in program history.


“These are great ones to win and tough ones to lose,” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “And I've been on both ends. I thought it was a great college baseball game.


“We got a big hit in the ninth. We were fortunate enough to win against an outstanding pitching staff and an outstanding program.”


With the score tied at 1, CWS Most Outstanding Player Robert Refsnyder led off the top of the ninth with a single to left against closer Matt Price. After falling behind 0-2, Seth Mejias-Brean got down the sacrifice bunt to advance Refsnyder to second. Bobby Brown was intentionally walked, bringing sophomore Brandon Dixon to the plate.


Dixon was a defensive replacement at first base in the sixth. His first at-bat of the game came with runners on the corners with two away in the seventh against Price. With a chance to add to a 1-0 lead, Dixon hit a foul pop to first to make him 0-7 in the CWS.


On a 1-1 pitch in the ninth, Dixon laced a ball just inside the bag at third that went for a double, plating Refsnyder with the go-ahead run and moving Brown to third.


“I got a 1‑1 count,” Dixon said, “and I was sitting on a slider. I got it and rolled it over, through the third baseline, and got the run in.”


Lopez almost didn’t give Dixon a chance to hit.


“I was going to pinch hit for him,” Lopez said, “and my assistant coach, Matt Siegel, looked at me and I looked at him, and he shook his head no. I went, OK, I'll go with the guy's gut. But he obviously came through.”


After Tyler Webb came in from the bullpen Riley Moore fanned for the second out, freshman Trent Gilbert stepped to the plate. He entered the game having gone 1 for 13 in the CWS, but capped a 2-for-4 day with a two-run single to right to extend the lead to 4-1.


“It's no secret the juniors, they're the main contributors throughout the season,” Gilbert said. “But with me and some of the other younger guys, I think we feel just as confident in those situations. So when we get a chance like that, I like our chances as well.”


The champs would not go quietly. Christian Walker singled and L.B. Dantzler walked to start the bottom of the ninth. After a strikeout, Kyle Martin walked to load the bases. Tanner English lined a ball that looked to be headed to center field. Gilbert made a diving catch at second and nearly doubled up Dantzler at second to end the contest. With two away, Grayson Greiner flew out to Refsnyder in right to ignite the Wildcat celebration.


“We battled as hard as we could,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner, “but they did a little bit better than we did. They played great defense, had timely hitting and clutch pitching as well.


“Although we're disappointed tonight, I'm not disappointed with my players. We battled hard. We've worked extremely hard, and we made a run. But this is a national championship for the University of Arizona, and we congratulate them.”


Matthew Troupe (6-1) got the win in relief for Arizona. He struck out Joey Pankake looking to end the eighth with the go-ahead run at third. Troupe went 1.1 innings with one hit, two walks and two strikeouts.


Wildcat starter James Farris (left) was outstanding, going 7.2 innings with two hits, one run, two walks and four strikeouts.


“He was outstanding,” Lopez said about Farris. “We had a plan. I thought we could have a plan against South Carolina. But I've done it too many times where you go into the game, you have a plan and guys don't locate. And before you know it, forget about the plan, you've got to go get another arm. Short of the base on balls and hit batsman, I thought he was absolutely spectacular.”


In his final appearance in Omaha, Michael Roth had another terrific start for the Gamecocks. He went 6.2 innings with three hits, one run, one walk and three strikeouts. Roth set CWS career records with eight starts, 60.1 innings and seven hit batsmen.


Price (1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K) suffered the loss for South Carolina.


Arizona took the lead in the top of the third. Joseph Maggi had a leadoff double just inside the third base bag, snapping Roth’s streak to 28 straight retired over two games. He was sacrificed to third and scored on a groundout by Gilbert to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.


South Carolina tied it in the bottom of the seventh. Walker drew a leadoff walk in a 12-pitch at-bat. He moved to third on a one-out single to right by Adam Matthews and scored on a slow chopper to first to knot the score at 1.


The Gamecocks stranded seven, including three in the ninth and five over the final three innings. The Wildcats left six on base, five over the final three frames.