OMAHA, Neb. – Arizona won its fourth College World Series and NCAA baseball title with a gutty 4-1 victory over two-time defending champion South Carolina on June 25 at TD Ameritrade Park.
A couple of unexpected heroes in freshmen reliever Mathew Troupe and second baseman Trent Gilbert, and sophomore first baseman Brandon Dixon helped propel the junior-loaded Wildcats to the school's 18th team NCAA Championship. The Cats helped the Pac-12 earn its first baseball title since Oregon State's back-to-back rings in 2006 and 2007.
A crowd of 23,872 at TD Ameritrade Park settled in to watch a pitching duel between Arizona sophomore James Farris and South Carolina's CWS-veteran senior Michael Roth that ended with neither factoring in the decision, but both setting the tone for the game. Farris lasted until into the eighth inning and Roth into the seventh after each held the other's squad off balance.
Troupe (6-1) won in relief for second time in Omaha and third time in the postseason, pitching one and one-third innings to close the game and weathering a huge test of his own making in the bottom of the ninth.
Dixon drove in what proved to be the winning run in the top of the ninth, and Gilbert gave the UA its first lead and later some breathing room with a two-run base hit – insurance it appeared to desperately need as the Gamecocks mounted a challenge in the bottom of the frame.
Arizona completed its season with a 48-17 record and swept the Gamecocks 2-0 in the Championship Series of the CWS to end seventh-ranked South Carolina's record at 49-19. The Cats were a perfect 10-0 in NCAA action while USC, which fought back from an earlier loss in Omaha, was 9-3 in the postseason and a 4-3 mark in Omaha.
The Cats put a run on the board first, with three freshmen helping out. First baseman Joseph Maggi's double to open the UA third snapped Roth's streak of retiring 28 consecutive batters in the CWS. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Riley Moore and scored on Gilbert's ground ball to second, his 40th RBI of the season.
South Carolina got its first hit off Farris with a single up the middle by LB Dantzler with two out in the fourth. Farris only had walked Christian Walker with two outs in the first inning before the Gamecock safety.
Alex Mejia singled to open the UA seventh, snapping a string of eight consecutive batters erased by Roth, and was sacrificed to second by Robert Refsnyder. Roth intentionally walked Seth Mejias-Brean to set up a force situation and put two runners on base for the first time in the game. Bobby Brown hit into a force play but beat the throw to first to avoid the double play.
USC went to its bullpen, ending Roth's stint at six and two-thirds innings, three hits, three strikeouts, one walk (intentional) and one run, earned. The Gamecocks brought in ace reliever Matt Price, who got Brandon Dixon to foul out to first to strand two UA runners.
Farris had faced two over the minimum until the Gamecocks got some spark to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Farris, who had retired seven in a row, walked Walker to give USC its first lead-off baserunner in the game.
UA Coach Andy Lopez visited the mound while UA's bullpen started some activity by Tyler Crawford and Troupe. After an infield popout, Adam Matthews singled through the right side to move Walker to third and give USC runners on the corners. Kyle Martin grounded to second and drove in Walker, and then Dantzler flied to center to end the rally.
The Wildcats threatened in the eighth. Gilbert hit a one-out single to left. After Price struck out Joey Rickard, Johnny Field hit a ground ball to third baseman Danztler, who threw in the dirt at first to let Gilbert reach third and put Field on first. But Mejia lined to third to strand the UA's fourth and fifth baserunners.
Farris hit Grayson Greiner to open the USC eighth and give it another lead-off runner. Chase Vergason tried a sac bunt, but Mejias-Brean made an outstanding off-balance throw to force Greiner at second. Evan Marzilli struck out swinging, but Vergason stole second and reached third when UA catcher Moore's errant throw went into center field.
Lopez went to the bullpen, bringing in Troupe for his second CWS appearance. He struck out Joey Pankake, looking, to strand a fourth Gamecock. Farris ended his outing with seven and two-thirds innings, two hits, four strikeouts, two walks and one run, earned.
Refsnyder, later named the CWS Most Outstanding Player, singled to open the Cats' ninth. After a sacrifice bunt by Mejias-Brean, Price issued an intentional walk to Brown.
Brandon Dixon, who was 12-for-58 with runners in scoring position in 2012 entering the game, doubled down the line in left to bring hom Refsnyder and chase Price (5-5). It was Dixon's 14th RBI of the year. Reliever Tyler Webb struck out Moore, but Gilbert smacked a two-run single to right field to give the UA the eventual winning score, 4-1.
Walker singled to left off Troupe to open the Gamecocks' ninth, putting the tying run on deck. Walker moved to second on defensive indifference as Dantzler swung through a pitch. Dantzler drew a walk to put the tying run at the plate.
Troupe struck out Matthews for the first out, but walked Kyle Martin to load the bases. Tanner English hit a hard liner over Troupe but second baseman Gilbert snagged the drive and almost doubled Dantzler at the bag. Greiner hit a pop fly to Refsnyder in right field. The Gamecocks stranded three and seven total in the game.
Voted by the media to the CWS All-Tournament team from Arizona were catcher Riley Moore, shorstop Alex Mejia, center fielder Joey Rickard, right fielder Robert Refsnyder, designated hitter Bobby Brown and pitcher Konner Wade. Refsnyder was chosen the Most Outstanding Player.