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College World Series game blog: Arizona wins the national title

Arizona celebrates after the final out. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats beat South Carolina 4-1 on Monday night to win the College World Series, a game that was a microcosm of their late-season run.

Great starting pitching — 7 2/3 innings from James Farris, who allowed one run and two hits.

Depth of batting order — All four RBIs came from the bottom third of the order, including a two-run single in the ninth from No. 9 hitter Trent Gilbert.

Defense — Gilbert made a diving catch of a line drive in the ninth, and Seth Mejias-Brean made two stellar plays, including taking a chance to get a force out at second in the eighth.

The Wildcats never trailed in the Series.

Arizona won its fourth College World Series, adding to titles won in 1976, 1980 and 1986, all under coach Jerry Kindall.

UA’s Andy Lopez, meanwhile, becomes the second coach in NCAA history to win titles at two schools, joining Augie Garrido, who won with Cal State Fullerton (1979, 1984 and 1995) and Texas (2002 and 2005).

Lopez also sets the record for most time elapsed between titles, breaking the mark of 11 years held by Garrido.

* * *

Three outs away …

–South Carolina lead-off hitter in the ninth, Christian Walker, singles to left.

–LB Dantzler walks.

–Adam Matthews is the tying run. He strikes out swinging on a foul tip.

–Kyle Martin walks on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

–Tanner English is the potential winning run. He lines a shot up the middle that Trent Gilbert lays out to catch, and he nearly doubles up Dantzler, who dives back to the bag just in time. Two outs.

–Grayson Greiner flies out to right…

And the Arizona Wildcats are national champions, winning 4-1.

* * *

Robert Refsnyder leads off the top of the ninth with a bouncer over the third baseman. Seth Mejias-Brean attempts a sacrifice with two strikes, and gets the job done as Refsnyder moves to second. Bobby Brown is walked intentionally, bringing up Brandon Dixon — and the defensive replacement delivers.

He hits a breaking ball hard down the line, driving in Refsnyder with a double as Arizona goes up 2-1. That’s it for Price, who gives way to lefty Tyler Webb, who strikes out Riley Moore. Another run would be huge as Trent Gilbert comes up with two runners in scoring position.

How about two runs?

Gilbert singles to right to make it 4-1 in the ninth. Typical of Arizona. Everyone hits. Even the No. 9 hitter.

Robert Refsnyder

Robert Refsnyder celebrates the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

* * *

Mathew Troupe makes the pitch of his life, striking out Joey Pankake on a 3-2 pitch on the outside to end the eighth inning with a runner of third. Troupe celebrates with a fist pump, a leg kick and a huge scream.

* * *

Trouble. James Farris loses control of a pitch and hits Grayson Greiner to lead off the bottom of the eighth. And then third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean makes the play of the game.

He charges a sac bunt attempt, gambles on a force out at second, throws across his body and fires a strike to shortstop Alex Mejia covering second. The throw barely beats Greiner for the out. SMB had to be perfect, and he was. Big time. Big league.

Konner Wade strikes out Evan Marzilli on a 3-2 pitch, but Chase Vergason was running on the pitch and goes all the way to third when catcher Riley Moore’s throw goes into center field.

That’s it for Farris, who goes 7 2/3 excellent innings, allowing only two hits. Freshman Mathew Troupe comes in to try to keep this a tie game.

* * *

Trent Gilbert singles with one out in the eighth of Matt Price, taking an outside breaking ball the other way into left field. Joey Rickard strikes out swinging on a high fastball for out No. 2.

Johnny Field works the count to 3-2 before smacking a hard grounder to third, where LB Dantzler fields it cleanly but then bounces his throw to first. Christian Walker fails to make the scoop, as Field is safe and Gilbert races to third.

Arizona doesn’t cash in, though. Alex Mejia hits one on the button, but it’s right at centerfielder Evan Marzilli. End of inning.

* * *

Christian Walker has South Carolina’s best at-bat of the game, seeing 12 pitches before drawing a walk to lead off the bottom of the seventh. This is the first time the Gamecocks have had the leadoff runner on base.

James Farris gets a huge out when cleanup hitter LB Dantzler pops up to shortstop, but Adam Matthews singles through the hole to right, moving Walker to third.

Like Arizona did earlier, South Carolina pushes across a run with a ground out to second. Freshman Trent Gilbert, whose defense has not been the best, might have had a play at home on the slow roller but takes the out at first as the Gamecocks tie it up at 1.

Farris gets a fly out to end the inning.

* * *

Another run would be huge for Arizona. Alex Mejia opens the seventh with a single to center and — true to form — Andy Lopez calls for the sac bunt, even with cleanup hitter Robert Refsnyder. Refsndyer gets the job done.

After an intentional walk to Seth Mejias-Brean, Michael Roth gets a groundout from Bobby Brown and a force out at second base. But the Gamecocks can’t turn the double play, as Mejia goes to third.

That’s it for Roth, with right-handed relief ace Matt Price coming in to face right-handed batter Brandon Dixon.

Dixon fouls out to first base to end the inning. No insurance for the Cats.

* * *

Chase Vergason leads off the sixth inning for South Carolina by reaching the warning track in right. The Gamecocks have twice had warning-track power tonight, but James Farris isn’t afraid to work the strike zone and take advantage of the good pitching conditions (big park, wind blowing in).

* * *

The past seven Arizona batters have gone done in order. Is one run going to be enough? Cats up 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

* * *

Andy Lopez in his ESPN in-game interview on South Carolina pitcher Michael Roth: “I’m so impressed with him for five innings. If he wants to leave at this point, that’s fine by me.” Lopez adds that the Cats are having trouble picking up Roth’s change-up.

* * *

James Farris is through five innings, working everything in the strike zone and showing a filthy breaking ball that is missing bats. He has thrown only 56 pitches and allowed just baserunners — a two-out walk in the first and a two-out single in the fourth.

* * *

LB Dantzler gets South Carolina’s first hit of the game, as the left-hander muscles a ball through the middle of the infield for a single. James Farris goes 3 2/3 inning before giving up a hit, and he works around that single with an inning-ending groundout to second.

Arizona up 1-0 after four.

* * *

Andy Lopez says junior shortstop Alex Mejia is always gabbing to the umpires, just another example of how much he enjoys all aspects of the game. This photo captures that:

Alex Mejia

Photo by Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

* * *

Robert Refsnyder keeps the fourth inning alive with a two-out single up the middle, but Seth Mejias-Brean grounds out to shortstop. The big play that inning was a diving catch from right fielder Adam Matthews to rob Alex Mejia of two bases.

* * *

James Farris

James Farris pitches in the first inning against South Carolina. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

James Farris just another Arizona starter who pounds the strike zone — 29 pitches through three scoreless/hitless innings. South Carolina’s Grayson Greiner gave a pitch a ride to deep left to start the third inning, but the wind is blowing in and this is a big park. No harm done.

* * *

Arizona gets something going against Michael Roth, as Joseph Maggi slaps a high fastball the other way just inside the third-base bag for a double. Andy Lopez goes to his small ball, with Riley Moore sacrificing Maggi to third.

With the infield playing at normal depth, Trent Gilbert follows with a slow ground ball to second base that brings home Maggi. That’s pretty much how you manufacture a run — and how the Cats have been doing it all year.

Arizona up 1-0 going to bottom of the third.

* * *

That’s six in a row for Michael Roth. He has retired 28 consecutive batters, dating to his last start against Kent State — that’s a perfect game, plus one out. But James Farris has mostly matched Roth and hasn’t been too shabby, either, needing 22 pitches to get through two innings.

* * *

James Farris looks confident and in control of his emotions in the first innings. He quickly retires the first two hitters on six pitches before walking Christian Walker on a 3-2 pitch. Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean makes a big-league play to get Arizona out of the inning, diving to his left to stop a hot shot, throwing out LB Dantzler.

* * *

Michael Roth has no trouble with Arizona in the first inning, retiring the Cats in order.

* * *

With Michael Roth pitching on three days’ rest and Arizona going with sophomore James Farris, this could turn into a battle of the bullpens. On paper, that favors South Carolina.

We’re likely to see the Gamecocks’ Matt Price at some point tonight. He holds the College World Series record with five career victories and has a 0.36 career ERA in 24 2/3 innings at the CWS. He has 33 strikeouts in that span.

Arizona has a well-rested bullpen in Mathew Troupe and Tyler Crawford, the only relievers who have seen action through nine postseason games. Amazingly, the Cats have used a total of five pitchers in the postseason.

Stephen Manthei hasn’t pitched in a game since May 27.

If Arizona uses anybody outside of those three tonight, something probably went horribly wrong.

* * *

Arizona warms up at TD Ameritrade Park. Photo by Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

* * *

The Arizona Wildcats are one victory from winning the College World Series, but they will have to go through South Carolina ace Michael Roth to be able to clinch tonight.

Roth, pitching on three days’ rest, is 9-1 with a 2.49 ERA this season, holding opponents to a .212 batting average.

In helping the Gamecocks win the past two national championships, Roth has become a World Series legend. He has a 1.34 ERA in CWS, allowing just 31 hits in 53.2 innings. The left-hander pitched a two-hit complete game against Kent State last Thursday, allowing one run, striking out eight and walking none.

Roth, in 11 career postseason starts, is 8-0, never allowing more than three earned runs.

Arizona will counter will sophomore James Farris, making his second start of the postseason, first since June 3.

So, pitching edge to South Carolina tonight.

“Arizona’s a real good team,” Gamecocks pitcher Evan Beal said after the Cats’ 5-1 win on Sunday night. “They can swing it, as you can see. But I don’t think it’s anything really insurmountable to go out the

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