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Gamecocks fall 5-1 to Arizona in CWS finals opener

Gamecocks fall 5-1 to Arizona in CWS finals opener

Gamecocks fall 5-1 to Arizona in CWS finals opener

Arizona's Johnny Field dives into thi...


OMAHA, Neb. -- South Carolina won its first two national championships with two-game sweeps in the College World Series finals.

It won't be that simple if the Gamecocks are going to make it three in a row.

Konner Wade threw his third straight complete game, Robert Refsnyder homered for the second game in a row and Arizona beat South Carolina 5-1 in the opener Sunday night.

"Arizona's a real good team," center fielder Evan Marzilli said. "They can swing it, as you can see, but I don't think it's anything really insurmountable to go out there and at least force the Game 3. It's going to be tough. But we've got to get back on our game tomorrow and we've got to get some runs."

Wade (11-3) limited the Gamecocks to six hits in a steady outing to help the Wildcats (47-17) move within a win of their first national championship since 1986 and fourth overall.

The Gamecocks (49-19), who beat UCLA in 2010 and Florida last year, would have to beat Arizona on Monday and again Tuesday to become the first team since Southern California in the early 1970s to win three championships in a row.

"We just couldn't get in a situation to do anything offensively," Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. "(Wade) kept making big pitches when he needed to. And they played solid defense out there. And we tried to make a run at them."

Refsnyder, batting .444 (8 of 18) in the CWS, went 2 for 3 and was intentionally walked twice. He hit a two-run homer off Forrest Koumas (2-3) in the first to give Arizona the lead, and scored in the fifth on Bobby Brown's single to make it a four-run game.

Refsnyder, who has eight homers this season, also went deep Thursday in the Wildcats' bracket-winning victory over Florida State.

His home run to right Sunday was the first allowed by South Carolina in 77 innings.

"How about an opposite-field home run in this park?" Tanner said. "When he touched the ball, that ball's been hit hard but I expected it to be maybe off the warning track, one hop to the fence, but that was impressive. That's why he's one of the better players in the country."

Refsnyder also showed off his arm in right field, throwing out Adam Matthews when he tried to go from first to third on Kyle Martin's single in the seventh.

Wade has won four straight starts in the postseason. He worked eight innings against Louisville in regionals, nine in the super regional-winning victory over St. John's, and threw a complete-game shutout against UCLA last Sunday.

Wade is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four NCAA tournament starts (35 innings, five earned runs). He struck out three. His walk to Walker in the sixth was the first he issued in 31 innings.

The Arizona bullpen was inactive until Christian Walker singled leading off the ninth. Wade got a fly out, groundout and foul out to end the game.

Arizona, which hasn't trailed in the CWS, scored unearned runs in the third and fifth innings.

No. 9 batter Trent Gilbert reached to start the third when shortstop Joey Pankake flubbed his grounder. Gilbert moved to third on Joey Rickard's hit and scored on Alex Mejia's single to left.

Seth Mejias-Brean drove in a run in the fifth after Johnny Field reached third on a wild pitch and error.

South Carolina cut it to 4-1 in the sixth on Evan Marzilli's RBI single, the first run allowed by Wade in 15 innings.

Evan Beal pitched five innings in relief of Koumas, who left after 2 1/3 innings. Beal allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits. He walked three and struck out four.

"Evan did a great job battling when he went out there," Tanner said. "I know he had three or four walks. But he competed for us. He kept us in that thing. We were able to turn a couple of double plays behind him to keep it going. And because he battled hard for us, he gave us a chance to come back."

The loss ended the Gamecocks' streak of yielding two runs or less in four straight CWS games.

South Carolina already has fought off elimination twice in the CWS. The Gamecocks had their 22-game NCAA tournament win streak end last Monday with a 2-1 loss to Arkansas. They came back to beat Kent State and Arkansas twice to reach the finals.

"It's a best-of-three game series for a reason," catcher Grayson Greiner said. "We have to come out and fight tomorrow. We were in the same situation a few days ago. They've got to beat us twice to win the championship, and the best team will have to win two games."

 

 

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