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College World Series game blog: Wade pitches Arizona to Game 1 victory

Robert Refsnyder

Safe! Robert Refsnyder slides in for Arizona's final run in a 5-1 victory over South Carolina. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Arizona sophomore Konner Wade continued his stellar postseason run, pitching a six-hitter to lead UA to a 5-1 victory over South Carolina in the first game of the championship series of the College World Series in Omaha.

Wade allowed a leadoff single in the ninth, but got a long fly ball for the first out, a bounce out … and then a popout to third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean.

Wade is 4-0 in the postseason, with three complete games. He has allowed five earned runs in 35 innings – a 1.29 ERA

Game 2 will be held Monday night at 5 p.m. Tucson time on ESPN. It will be the same time and channel for Tuesday, if a third game is necessary.

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Konner Wade heads to the ninth with a 5-1 lead. Arizona misses another golden opportunity for runs, with the game’s hitting hero, Robert Refsnyder, striking out on a 3-2 curveball from reliever Nolan Belcher with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Still, it’s hard to complain, as the Cats are in great shape to lock down Game 1.

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Arizona has scored at least four runs in all nine postseason games. On the flip side, South Carolina hadn’t given up more than four runs in 16 consecutive games until tonight.

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No signs of trouble from Konner Wade in the eighth, as the Gamecocks go in order. Arizona, up 5-1, is three outs away from a win in the first game of the championship series.

Wade will be going for his third complete game in four postseason starts. Amazing.

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This fan stopped play briefly in the sixth inning when she ran onto the field. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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Robert Refsnyder — ahem, early MVP? — gets Arizona going in the seventh. He singles with one out, goes to second on a bounce out and scores on a hit by Bobby Brown. That makes it 5-1 for the Cats.

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Arizona’s outfield throwing has been brilliant in the postseason. Remember Johnny Field’s throw in the first inning to cut down a Florida State runner on Thursday night?

Tonight, in the seventh inning, with no outs and a runner on first, right fielder Robert Refsnyder comes up with the killer throw. He charges a single by Kyle Martin and fires a one-hopper to third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean to cut down Adam Matthews trying to take the extra base.

A fraction of a second later, or a if the throw had been a foot off line, and Matthews is safe, meaning the Gamecocks would have had runners on first and third with no outs.

Instead, it’s an out … and all the momentum to Arizona.

Konner Wade gets the next two outs, and now its on to the bottom of the seventh, Arizona up 4-1.

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Konner Wade

Konner Wade started the game with 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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South Carolina gets on the board, and Konner Wade’s scoreless inning streak at the College World Series ends at 14 2/3 innings.

The Gamecocks get a leadoff double from Grayson Greiner, and he is nearly stranded there, but Evan Marzilli coaxes a two-out bouncer past Wade and out of reach of diving shortstop Alex Mejia. Greiner comes around to score to cut the lead to 4-1.

Wade then issues his first walk in 31 innings, bringing up cleanup hitter LB Dantzler as the potential tying run. Big moment.

Wade wins the battle, with Dantzler bouncing sharply to first base to end the inning.

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Arizona threatens again in the fifth. Johnny Field walks with one out and then goes to third on a wild pitch and throwing error on the same play.

A chopper over the mound by Alex Mejia doesn’t do the job, and South Carolina doesn’t give Robert Refsnyder anything close to hit, giving him a four-pitch walk.

This time, Seth Mejias-Brean comes through, lashing an RBI single to center to give the Cats a bit more breathing room at 4-0 after five innings.

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Nine in a row retired by Konner Wade. He is through five innings, with Arizona up 3-0.

“You have to tip your hat to Konner Wade. He’s making some pitches,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner told ESPN during an in-game interview. “The ball is running a little bit. Our guys are having trouble squaring it up.”

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Arizona hits into another inning-ending double play, this time stranding a runner on third. A lead-off walk by Bobby Brown and a one-out single by Riley Moore goes for naught, as Trent Gilbert grounds into the DP.

UA up 3-0 after four innings.

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Konner Wade sets down South Carolina in order in the fourth. Wade typically works down in the zone, using his sinking fastball, but the Gamecocks have flied out in five of the past six at-bats. So far, he hasn’t left one hanging out over the middle of the plate, though.

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Trent Gilbert reaches base on an error by shortstop Joey Pankake to lead off the bottom of the third. Arizona has made a habit of making the opponent pay for defensive miscues.

After a single to left by Joey Rickard, the Cats then do something they don’t make a habit of doing — Joey Field botched the sac bunt attempt, popping it up to the pitcher.

Does it matter much?

Alex Mejia follows with a single to left to drive in Gilbert for a 3-0 lead, and the Wildcats are cooking again.

The Gamecocks intentionally walk Robert Refsnyder to load the bases with one out for Seth Mejias-Brean, and that is it for starter Forrest Koumas.

In comes freshman right-hander Evan Beal .. and he does the job. With a chance to really blow the game open, Mejias-Brean grounds into a 6-4-3 double play. It’s been a great start for Arizona, but that’s a big missed opportunity.

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Konner Wade gives up his first hit of the game, a sharp single to left by Tanner English, the Gamecocks’ fastest player, to lead off the third. No harm done, though.

Wade gets a flyout to shallow out, a ground out that advanced English to second … and then a line out to left to end the inning.

Wade, a sophomore, has now pitched 36 postseason innings, including seven in a regional last season against Seton Hall. His ERA: 1.00.

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South Carolina’s Forrest Koumas strikes out the side in order in the bottom of the second inning.

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What does a home run swing look like? Here is Robert Refsnyder in the first inning:

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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Only 20 pitches for Konner Wade through two scoreless innings.

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How impressive is this: Robert Refsnyder comes through in Arizona’s first big at-bat of the game, taking a 2-2 pitch the opposite way for a two-run homer. It’s hard enough to put a pitch over the fence at TD Ameritrade; to go the opposite way is huge.

Refsynder drives in Johnny Field, who reached on a one-out single.

Arizona up 2-0 after one inning.

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Alex Mejia flips to Trent Gilbert to start a key double play in the first inning. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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The championship series begins with something that hasn’t happened all postseason from Arizona’s left side of the infield — a bad defensive play. A ground ball stays down after a hop and scoots under the glove and between the legs of third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean.

One play later, there is the defense from the left side of the infield that we’ve come to expect. Shortstop Alex Mejia lays out to stop a grounder up the middle, and quickly flips to Trent Gilbert to start the double play.

He’s not the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for nothing.

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Konner Wade will be looking to spin more postseason magic. He is 3-0 in the playoffs with a 1.38 ERA, striking out 11 and walking only two in 26 innings.

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Andy Lopez

Andy Lopez is close to his second national championship. He won it all in 1992 at Pepperdine. Photo by Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

Here we go. Arizona is set to take on two-time defending national champion South Carolina in the first game of the College World Series championship series.

Arizona, which went 3-0 in its half of the bracket, is rested and has its pitching set up nicely.

Sophomore Konner Wade, who has won back-to-back complete-game victories with no walks, will start for the Wildcats.

South Carolina, which had to come through the losers’ bracket, winning three games over two days to advance, burned through its top three starters on Thursday and Friday. Coach Ray Tanner will go with sophomore Forrest Koumas.

He is 2-2 with a 4.56 ERA in 25 2/3 innings. That includes three starts in 17 appearances. He hasn’t pitched longer than 5 1/3 innings this season, but the Gamecocks do have a stellar bullpen.

“We have a lot of different guys who can get the job done,” Koumas was quoted as saying in the Greenville News, our Gannett partner.

“You’ve just got to wait your turn and if you get an opportunity, jump on it. (Arizona) has some great numbers. They have a very special team. They’ve got a lot of good hitters. They’ve got great starting pitching so it could be a tough week for us.”

Koumas was 6-1 with a 2.96 ERA last season, but he has slumped in 2012.

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Arizona’s lineup, tried and true:

1. CF Joey Rickard
2. LF Johnny Field
3. SS Alex Mejia
4. RF Robert Refsnyder
5. 3B Seth Mejias-Brean
6. DH Bobby Brown
7. 1B Joseph Maggi
8. C Riley Moore
9. 2B Trent Gilbert

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Some pregame reading:

Jerry Kindall comes around on move to Hi Corbett: ‘It all worked out’

Javier Morales: College World Series notes

South Carolina is considered the betting favorite for the championship series.

Steve Rivera, FoxSportsArizona.com: Long journey a memorable one for Refsnyders

Gamecocks’ Roth enjoys record-breaking success at CWS

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