For the fourth time this College World Series, South Carolina will face elimination Monday night.
Arizona right-hander Konner Wade threw his second straight complete game as Arizona defeated the Gamecocks 5-1 Sunday night in game-one of the best-of-three CWS Finals.
"The difference in the
game was Konner Wade," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "He strikes three
guys out. And he's out there for a complete game.
Very, very impressive. He used both sides of the
"He kept us from doing too much offensively. And they did what they needed to do offensively. So I felt like we were zoned in. We were ready to go. We didn't make anything happen. But I think you give credit where credit's due, and that's with Konner Wade."
Wade, who became the first pitch since Cal State Fullerton's Jason Windsor in 2004 to throw two complete games at the CWS, gave up just six hits and an earned run and needed just 110 pitches to earn the win. (One of Windsor's complete games was also against the Gamecocks.) Wade struck out three and only walked one batter.
"His fastball was moving
a lot. He kept it in the zone," center fielder Evan Marzilli said. "He was good at
working both sides of the plate. He didn't force
any he didn't give up any walks or anything
"He was on his game tonight. And we
weren't able to capitalize on some of those
situations we had. And that's just how it went."
"He had a lot of good sink on his fastball," freshman catcher Grayson Greiner added. "And we got runners out there, but he made a big pitch when he needed to make a big pitch. And you have to give him credit for that. He pitched a great game and got them the win."
The Wildcats, who have had the most consistently explosive offense among the teams in Omaha, jumped on South Carolina starter Forrest Koumas with two runs in the first inning as the Gamecocks fell behind early for the fourth time in the CWS.
Right fielder Robert Refsnyder lined a two-out fastball to right field and into the Gamecocks' bullpen for a two-run homer to give Arizona the early edge.
"It's just good to be on top, on top of a very good opponent when you're getting into the second inning," Arizona coach Andy Lopez said of the momentum it gave his team.
Arizona extended the lead to 3-0 in the third when Alex Mejia singled to bring home Trent Gilbert, who reached base to start the inning on a Joey Pankake error.
Freshman Evan Beal replaced Koumas in the inning and induced a 6-4-3 double play from the first batter he faced to get the Gamecocks out of the bases loaded situation without further damage.
Beal went five innings and gave up two runs, one earned, off seven hits to keep the game in potential striking distance.
Arizona struck again in the fifth when a walk plus a wild pitch and throwing error on Greiner moved a runner all the way to third. Seth Mejias-Brean's single extended the lead to 4-0.
The Gamecocks finally began to get to Wade a little in the sixth when Greiner led off the inning with a double. Marzilli's two-out single up the middle cut the lead to 4-1. After a Christian Walker walk, LB Dantzler's sharply hit ground ball was fielded at first to end the inning.
"I can't say enough about my defense tonight," Wade said. They really picked me
up in some big situations. It was huge, knowing that you can pitch to contact with this defense behind you."
The Gamecocks led off the seventh with back-to-back singles but Adam Matthews was thrown out by Refsnyder as he tried to go from first to third on Kyle Martin's single through the right side.
"I came through that ball real hard and I
really wasn't expecting Matthews to go," Refsnyder said. "But I
thought he kind of hesitated, so I decided to let it rip.
"It was a big momentum shift for us."
"It was a big play," Tanner said. "No question about that. I wasn't sure he would throw the ball with the score [at] the time, 4-1. I thought maybe he would throw it to second. He had to make a perfect throw to third. He did. And it's one of those things when you're trailing you probably should have held up there, but sometimes things happen in baseball. And he made a great play."
Carolina did little else as Wade cruised through the rest of the inning and the eighth and ninth, and his offense added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single from Bobby Brown.
Nolan Belcher came in to get the final two outs of the eighth and struck out Refsnyder with the based loaded.
Tanner says that ace Michael Roth is the "likely starter" for game-two of the series. Arizona will counter with ace Kurt Heyer or James Farris.