Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
OMAHA, Neb. -- With one out in the top of the ninth, Brandon Dixon doubled down the left field line to score CWS MOP Robert Refsnyder and put the Wildcats up 2-1. Trent Gilbert's single to right extended the lead to 4-1 as Arizona weathered a South Carolina rally in the bottom of the inning to end the Gamecocks' historic run and win the 2012 College World Series Monday night.
The entire South Carolina team lined up outside of the third base dugout and watched as Arizona experienced the same celebration the Gamecocks did the last two seasons.
After giving the Wildcats time to enjoy their moment, they lined up and shook hands just as if it was the ending to any other game.
For the first time in three seasons, the Gamecocks ended their season with a loss.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Brandon Dixon doubled down the left field line to score CWS Most Outstanding Player Robert Refsnyder and put the Wildcats up 2-1. Trent Gilbert's single to right extended the lead to 4-1 as Arizona weathered a South Carolina rally in the bottom of the inning to end the Gamecocks' historic run and win the 2012 College World Series Monday night in game two of the CWS Finals.
"Congratulations to Coach (Andy) Lopez and his staff. They did a great job in the postseason," head coach Ray Tanner said.
"We battled as hard as we could, but they
did a little bit better than we did. They played
great defense, had timely hitting and clutch
pitching as well.
"Although we're disappointed tonight, I'm
not disappointed with my players. We battled
hard. We've worked extremely hard, and we
made a run. We got to the postseason and got
back out here and got in the loser's bracket and
got back to the finals."
A quality start from CWS legend Michael Roth wasn't enough for Carolina to force a game-three as the Gamecocks' bats were mostly silent again -- a problem the team has faced throughout its stay in Omaha.
"If you had to put your finger on one thing,
it's run output," Tanner said. "We just didn't get enough runs on the board. And they pitched really well against us and played defense."
Arizona starter James Farris held Carolina to just an earned run on four hits in 7.2 innings of work despite it being his first outing in 22 days.
"He was working away most of the night," senior right fielder Adam Matthews said. "Had his fastball. Hitting the spots with a fastball and had good slider to go along with it. He was on all night long and kept us off balance. He pitched tremendous for them."
Pitching on just three days rest, Roth gave his team a chance and gave up just a run.
Joseph Maggi led off the third inning with a double down the left field line. After a sacrifice bunt, Gilberts ground out to second brought home Maggi to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Roth threw 6.2 innings and gave up just three hits.
For much of the game, it seemed the one run might be enough. But the Gamecocks scratched across the tying run in the seventh.
Christian Walker led off the inning with a 12-pitch walk. After LB Dantzler popped out, Matthews snuck a bouncer through the right side on a hit-and-run to give the Gamecocks' runners at first and third. Kyle Martin's ground ball to the right side ended in an out but was just in the right spot for Walker to be able to race home and tie the game.
The Wildcats threatened to respond in the seventh but with runners at first and third and two down, the Gamecocks turned to closer Matt Price who forced a pop-up to get out of the threat.
Carolina finally chased Farris from the game in the eighth with runners on first and third and two down, but eventual winning pitcher Mathew Troup struck out Joey Pankake looking to end the inning.
Refsnyder led off the ninth with a single off Price. After Seth Mejias-Brean sacrificed him over to second, and Carolina elected to intentionally walk Brown, Dixon came up with the double to put the Wildcats up.
"We got a big hit in the ninth,' Lopez said. "Man, it was a good [game]. Michael Roth's a legend. He's as good as I've seen in postseason. Seriously, their closer, my God, I just think
I will go to bed tonight, if I do sleep, and know in my heart that we beat -- or we were fortunate enough to win against -- an outstanding pitching staff and an outstanding program."
Tyler Webb relieved Price and struck out Riley Moore. But Gilbert's single to right gave the Wildcats two insurance runs.
Those runs would be important as the Gamecocks wouldn't go quietly in the ninth.
"I have so much respect for South
Carolina, I knew they wouldn't go quietly," Lopez said. "I just knew. I sensed it."
Walker dropped a single into left center to start the frame and then Dantzler took a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. After Matthews struck out, Martin walked to load the bases.
For an instant, Tanner English's line drive up the middle appeared to be headed for the outfield but second baseman Gilbert speared it and then dove for second base to nearly double up Dantzler and end the game as Dantzler arrived safely back on the bag just in time.
Grayson Greiner's fly out to right field ended the Gamecocks' season as Arizona raced to the infield to dog pile just as the Gamecocks' did the last two seasons.
"we're disappointed tonight, but
certainly not disappointed in our players and their effort to get us back in this position," Tanner said. "But this is a national championship for the University of Arizona, and we congratulate them."