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Monday, December 22, 2014 | Last updated: 2:12am

NATIONAL CHAMPS


Arizona baseball mounts late rally to end South Carolina's two-year run



OMAHA, Neb. — The Arizona Wildcats are the 2012 National Champions of college baseball.

They played “good baseball,” as head coach Andy Lopez said they would need to in order to become the first Arizona team since 1986 to win the title. The Wildcats held South Carolina to three hits in a 4-1 win.

The pitching for both teams was hot from the start, as both starters, James Farris for Arizona and Michael Roth for South Carolina allowed two base runners in the first three innings of play, a Christian Walker walk in the first, and a double by UA’s Joseph Maggi, who would later put the Wildcats on top when a Trent Gilbert groundout to first would bring him home.

Farris’ pitch count remained low through three, as he had 29 pitches with 21 strikes, two strikeouts, and four groundouts with no hits.

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By Gerry Melendez / The State
The Arizona Wildcats celebrate after defeating the South Carolina Gameocks during the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, Monday, June 25, 2012. (Gerry Melendez/The State/MCT)

Roth was also hot, retiring every Wildcat batter in the first and second innings, before Gilbert scored Maggi in the third.

Roth and Farris gave up two hits in the fourth, but both were singles and neither Arizona nor South Carolina was able to get anything going after that.

At the end of the fifth, Arizona had been forced into six groundouts and five flyouts, along with three runs. Between both teams, through the sixth, only Arizona’s Maggi had reached base as the leadoff man for an inning.

Farris’ hot pitching continued through the fifth, forcing South Carolina to go down in order for the third time, but Roth bettered that statistic just a few short minutes later, sitting Wildcat batters in order for the fourth time in six innings.

In the seventh, Farris walked Walker again, the first time a South Carolina leadoff batter would reach base all night. Like Maggi’s leadoff double, it would lead to a game-tying score for South Carolina.

An Adam Matthews single through the right side moved Walker to third, leading to a Kyle Martin RBI groundout to first, scoring Walker.

Farris pitched 7 2/3 innings, tossing 95 pitches, and 64 for strikes, with two hits, two walks and one hit batter. He was removed from the game in favor of Mat Troupe after an errant throw from catcher Riley Moore moved South Carolina second baseman Chase Vergason from first to third.

Troupe entered the game and struck out shortstop Joey Pankake, ending the inning, stranding Vergason on third.

Defensive sub Brandon Dixon, who entered the game in the sixth inning for Maggi at first base, came up to bat with one out and two men on in the ninth. His last at bat, in a similar situation, he flew out, ending the inning and stranding both men on base.

Dixon streaked a pitch down the same left field line as Maggi, and the results were even better for the Wildcats this time around, as Dixon scored Robert Refsnyder from second, pushing the lead to 2-1 with one out, and putting himself and Bobby Brown in scoring position.

Then freshman second baseman Trent Gilbert continued a great ninth for Arizona, hitting a 2 RBI single up the right side, scoring Dixon and Brown, before a Joey Rickard groundout ended the three-run ninth with UA on top 4-1 with three outs remaining.

Troupe made the game interesting in the ninth, giving up one hit and walking two to load the bases with one out, but Troupe ended the inning on a Grayson Greiner pop out to Robert Refsnyder, winning the Co

***

South Carolina crawled their way back into the game in the seventh, in a similar situation to what led to Arizona’s game leading score.

For just the second time all game, a leadoff batter for either team reached when Farris walked Christian Walker for the second time in the game. Farris moved to third on an Adam Matthews single, and for the second time in the game, an RBI groundout scored the runner at third, tying the game at one apiece.

In the eighth, Farris hit leadoff man Grayson Greiner, but bounced back, striking out Evan Marzilli swinging with runner on the corners, but an errant throw from catcher Riley Moore put Chase Veragson, who reached on a fielder’s choice, on third.

Farris was then pulled in favor of reliever Mat Troupe, who struck out Joey Pankake, ending the inning and stranding Vergason on third.

1-1 in the top of the ninth

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The fifth inning for both teams were can best be described as an offensive struggle, as both Roth and Farris retired batters in order in the inning. WIth a fifth inning strikeout, Farris has three on the night. He has retired he Gamecocks in order three times in the first five innings, his only mistakes coming on a first inning walk and fourth inning single.

Not to be outdone, Roth sat Arizona’s batters in order for the fourth time in the top of the sixth. Roth has thrown 75 pitches for 56 strikes, with seven flyouts and eight groundouts.

In the sixth inning, Farris remained brilliant, retiring the side for the fourth time.

1-0 Arizona in the top of the seventh.

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Arizona got on the board in the third, thanks to a Joseph Maggi standup double up the left field line. Maggi has hit an even .200 in the College World Series, with one RBI. After being moved over by a Riley Moore sacrifice bunt, Trent Gilbert brought Maggi home on a groundout to first base, putting the WIldcats on top 1-0, but ending the inning.

The Maggi double broke Roth’s 28 straight batters retired streak.

Farris, who through three had thrown 29 pitches and 21 strikes gave up his first hit in the fourth, a two-out single up the middle to South Carolina third baseman LB Dantzler.

1-0 Arizona after four innings.

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Game 2 of the College World Series final is shaping up like a pitcher’s duel. South Carolina’s Michael Roth has retired all six Arizona batters through two innings and has yet to give up a walk. He’s hurled 28 pitched, only 10 of which have gone for balls.

UA’s James Farris also has yet to give up a hit, but has walked one batter. He was much more efficient in the second inning, only throwing five pitches in a 1-2-3 inning of his own.

0-0 in the top of the third.

***

Arizona’s lineup in Game 2 of the College World Series championship:

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

P: James Farris (7-3, 4.18 ERA)


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