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Wildcats advance to CWS Championship Series

Arizona defeated Oklahoma State 5-1 Saturday to advance to the College World Series Championship. Read on for a complete recap.

* Courtesy of Arizona Athletics*

OMAHA, Neb. – Arizona is headed back to the College World Series finals.

The Wildcats doubled down on their formula of early offense and dominant pitching to defeat Oklahoma State, 5-1, Saturday afternoon. It was a third consecutive elimination game win for Arizona, which improved to 6-0 this postseason when facing elimination.

Bobby Dalbec was strong on the mound once again, improving his record to 11-5 for a seven-inning performance that saw him allow only one run on four hits. He struck out six and worked around two walks. 

Arizona (48-22) opened the game scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first and added two more in the second to provide an early cushion that ultimately proved to be enough.

Oklahoma State (43-22) mounted a late rally in the ninth inning, putting two runners on against reliever Kevin Ginkel, who earlier pitched a scoreless eighth. When the Cowboys sent pinch hitter Colin Simpson to the plate with two outs, the Wildcats countered with left-hander Alfonso Rivas, the starting left fielder.

Rivas answered the call, striking out Simpson to end the game. It earned the southpaw his third save of the season, while Ginkel’s line was wrapped up with 1.2 scoreless innings.

Zach Gibbons continued to swing a hot bat for the Wildcats, going 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Ryan Aguilar and Jared Oliva added two-hit performances as well, while Louis Boyd scored twice to pace the offense.

The Wildcats asserted themselves early against OSU ace hurler Thomas Hatch, who entered the game having not allowed a run in 23 straight innings, including a shutout in the Cowboys’ College World Series opener last Saturday.

Cody Ramer sparked the early surge, doubling down the right field line to open the home half of the first. After stealing third, Gibbons drove in the game’s first run. Aguilar then doubled and later scored on Oliva’s sacrifice fly.

An inning later, Kyle Lewis drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on Caesar Salazar’s bunt and scored on Boyd’s double down the left field line. Gibbons’ double plated Boyd and it was a 4-0 lead.

Hatch fell to 9-3 on the season in what was his shortest outing of the season. In two-plus innings pitched, Hatch was charged for four runs on fives hits and a pair of walks, while registering no strikeouts. The righty had yielded only 10 extra base hits on the season, but was roughed up for four doubles by the Wildcats.

The Cowboys pushed across their only run of the game in the third inning. Jon Littell opened the frame with a single and, after a double by Corey Hassel, scored on J.R. Davis’ sacrifice fly.

Arizona responded with another run against reliever Trey Cobb in the fourth inning. Boyd reached on a throwing error and advanced to second with one out. One out later, Gibbons tallied his 103rd base hit of the season to knock in Boyd and set the score at its eventual final, 5-1.

That was all the scoring the Wildcats would produce the rest of the way as Cobb and Tyler Buffett combined to allow only the on run over the final six innings.

The winner of tonight’s Coastal Carolina-TCU game will advance on to the College World Series finals against Arizona. The best two-out-of-three series will be played June 27-29, with the first game set for 6 p.m. (CDT) on Monday.

Game Notes:

·         Arizona advances to the College World Series finals (since best two-out-of-three format was implemented) for the second time in program history. The Wildcats won the national championship in 2012 when it swept South Carolina in two games.

·         The Wildcats have won four previous national titles: 1976, 1980, 1986 and 2012. The program has three runner-up finishes (1956, 1959 and 1963).

·         Arizona improves to 42-28 all-time at the College World Series. The 42 victories are fifth-most in NCAA history.

·         The Wildcats are 6-0 in elimination games this postseason, including 3-0 in Omaha. UA is the first team to win six elimination games since Fresno State accomplished the feat before winning the 2008 national title.

·         UA avenged historical elimination losses to Oklahoma State at the College World Series in the 1954, 1955 and 1959 College World Series.

·         The Wildcats are 48-22, matching the win total of the 2012 team for fifth-most in program history.

·         UA improved to 9-0 all-time when scoring first at TD Ameritrade Park.

·         Arizona’s first-inning run snapped a string of 23 straight scoreless innings for OSU pitcher Thomas Hatch.

·         UA’s two first-inning runs give it six in five contests at this year’s College World Series. Going back to 2012, the Wildcats have outscored opponents 14-0 in 10 all-time games at TD Ameritrade Park.

·         Jared Oliva’s sacrifice fly gave him six RBI at this year’s College World Series, the most for any player in the field through 13 games.

·         Louis Boyd doubled for the second consecutive game and third time at the CWS. He has seven postseason doubles after hitting only five during the regular season.

·         Three of UA’s first nine hitters recorded a double in their first at bat. Previously, Thomas Hatch had not surrendered more than two doubles in any game this season.

·         UA had four extra base hits (all doubles) after two innings of play. Hatch had not given up more than three extra base hits in any previous outing. In fact, Hatch entered the contest with only 10 extra base hits allowed over 128.1 innings.

·         The Wildcats’ four extra base hits are their most in 10 all-time games at TD Ameritrade Park.

·         OSU relieved Hatch with two on and no outs in the bottom of the third inning. Previously, Hatch’s shortest outing was 4.0 innings on March 18 against Michigan.

·         Zach Gibbons drove in three runs, matching his season high set April 20 against New Mexico State. Gibbons has three two-out RBI at the College World Series and has a team-high 22 for the season.

·         Gibbons’ two hits give him 103 for the season, not only most in the NCAA Division I this year but also tied for sixth-most in school single season history (Clark Crist, 1979). Gibbons has 30 multi-hit games on the year.

·         Bobby Dalbec struck out six in 7.0 innings, giving him 33 postseason strikeouts and 18 at the College World Series. Both of those totals lead all pitchers in the respective tournaments.

·         Jared Oliva hit safely for the seventh consecutive game.

·         JJ Matjevic worked a pair of walks for the second time this season (first since March 6 vs. St. Mary’s).

·         After being shutout in the first meeting on June 20, the Wildcats responded to score 14 runs the next two games against Oklahoma State. Included were nine runs over four consecutive innings (five in 8th and 9th innings Friday, four in 1st and 2nd frames Saturday).

·         UA’s 10 two-out RBI lead the College World Series field through 13 games.

·         The Wildcats have scored five or more runs three times at this year’s CWS, the most of any team in the field through Game 13.

·         Nathan Bannister (12-2) and Bobby Dalbec (11-5) are the first duo to register 11-win seasons since Kurt Heyer (13) and Konner Wade (11) accomplished the feat in the 2012 season.

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