Those who live in Arizona are used to Haboobs. For those who don’t know, they are intense windstorms over an arid terrain that go against the grain of an incoming front causing huge dustclouds. Tonight, the Haboob-like Wildcats went against the grain of conventional thinking that South Carolina was destined to win title No. 3 in a row with ease. Using clutch hitting and a dominating starting pitching performance, the Haboob-men take their counter-stance to within one game of bringing their fourth national title to the windswept deserts of Southern Arizona.
DAY TEN IN OMAHA.
Underneath a broiling sun to start the game, Arizona was definitely the team which was more capable of using its Eagle Scout survival skills and withstood any and all forces and elements that South Carolina could throw at them. As the night slightly cooled, the Desert Cats heated up, doubling Carolina’s hit total and making all the right plays at the right time in the field.
After nine innings here in Omaha, Advantage Arizona.
GAME ONE CWS FINALS
From the mound, to the plate, to the basepaths, the Wildcats were the aggressors tonight, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Robert Refsnyder’s two-run dinger and never giving the Gamecocks a glimmer of hope. Single runs in the 3rd, 5th and 7th innings kept SC at a stiff-arms length as the Cocks couldn’t get any kind of rally off the ground.
Of course, credit UofA starting pitcher Konner Wade for that. Wade was solid as hell from the get-go, working from ahead in the count the entire first five innings. Of the first 16 batters he faced, he threw first-pitch strikes on 13 of them. Of the other three, he threw an immediate strike right after that. For the game, Wade threw 110 pitches and 73 of those were for strikes. That’s showing stoic command there folks.
SoCar – 000 001 000 – 1 ¬† 6¬† 2
U of A – 201 010 10x -¬† 5¬† 12 1
WP: Konner Wade 11-3
LP: Forrest Koumas, 2-3
- Evan Marzilli, 1-for-4, RBI
- Robert Refsnyder, 2-for-3, 2RBI HR, 2intWalks
- Riley Moore, 3-for-4
95 degree heat index
Winds from the East at 7mph
Duration: 2-hours, 40-minutes
TOUR DE FORCE:
- Robert Refsnyder, Arizona OF
Yeah, I hear ya’. I should put Konner Wade in here, right? Maybe you’re right. But Ref was huge with both the bat and in the field. In the words of former ESPN color man Eric Byrnes, Refsnyder had an impressive “oppo-taco” to get the Wildcats on the board. Then in the 7th inning, he threw a strike from right field to nab Adam Matthews at 3rd base, just when the Gamecocks looked like they were going to make a push. Gamecock coach Ray Tanner said afterward, “That was a big play, I thought he had to make a perfect throw to 3rd to get the runner and he did. There’s a reason why he’s one of the best players in the country”
Well, this IS South Carolina we’re talking about, so this baby is far from done. I say that almost in a “duh, no kidding” kind of way. This was a great win for Arizona and puts them in a great position, but the big pressure comes tomorrow night when they go up against Michael Roth on the mound. The guy is nearly impenetrable in Omaha. There was a lot of “we weren’t nervous” talk in the post-game press conference, so it appears as if the CWS media expects Arizona to be under the anvil more than Carolina. And they have a point since they ARE the two-time defending champs for a reason.
Game two should be very interesting. Late in the game I made mention to Phil Stanton of College Baseball Insider that I didn’t recall the Desert Cats chasing a single bad pitch all night. If that kind of plate discipline continues tomorrow night, against Roth and his circus pitches, the Cats will have a fighting chance to end Carolina’s reign. If Roth is his usual mastery (and the offense can finally get a clutch hit), we’ll see you guys on Tuesday night for game three.
- Konner Wade becomes the first pitcher since Cal State Fullerton’s Jason Windsor in 2004 to throw two complete games in the College World Series.
- Arizona coach Andy Lopez was caught addressing his team after the game with a live microphone in the UofA team huddle. He told his team, “We didn’t play our best game, did we? We didn’t. Let’s play good baseball tomorrow. Get a plan and put that plan into place and let’s play our best game.” .
- In 13 CWS games, the team that has scored first has won 11 games. The only two who have come from behind was South Carolina in wins over Florida and Arkansas.
- Not a single South Carolina batter got two hits on the night and the Cocks’ only advanced five runners into scoring position. SoCar went 1-for-7 with those runners in scoring position.
- Coach Andy Lopez on starter Konner Wade:
“When he throws strikes he gets a lot of swing-throughs and a lot of ground balls. He wasn’t throwing strikes early in the season, but you are always very thankful when you get a guy that gets better as the season has gone along and he’s now had three straight complete games.”
- In addition to his three straight complete games, Wade has also now gone five straight games of 8.0 innings or more.
- Lopez, on his team stranding 11 runners on the basepaths:
“I’d give ourselves a grade of ‘B’ and that’s nothing against South Carolina, who is a phenomenal team. Not to be greedy but I hope our guys strive to achieve the standard they set in practice. We’ve got to do a better job of getting guys around the basepaths.”
- The last 35 College World Series games have now seen the losing team score four runs or less, the longest in NCAA history, surpassing the old mark of 24.
- Arizona now has 16 complete games, including eight of the last 19 games. South Carolina has one complete game, which was Michael Roth’s effort against Kent State four days ago.
images from Game One at the College World Series finals.
Okay, gotta head back to the Kubat basement now. More from The Big Tiddy for game two on Monday.