The University of Arizona captured its first baseball national title since 1986 with a two-game sweep of two-time defending champion South Carolina in the College World Series finals.
Arizona scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning last night in Omaha, Nebraska, to beat South Carolina 4-1 and end the season with 11 straight victories. Brandon Dixon delivered a run-scoring double for the Wildcats to snap a 1-1 tie and Trent Gilbert followed with a two-run single.
Arizona (48-17), which had defeated the Gamecocks 5-1 two days ago in the opening game of the best-of-three finals, also won national titles in 1970 and 1980.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey with this group,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said in a televised interview.
Lopez also coached Pepperdine University to the 1992 championship and joins Augie Garrido as the second coach to lead two schools to the National Collegiate Athletic Association baseball title. Garrido won the College World Series twice at Cal State-Fullerton and three times while at the University of Texas.
Arizona took a 1-0 lead last night in the top of the third inning, when first baseman Joseph Maggi led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a groundout.
South Carolina tied it in the bottom of the seventh inning as Christian Walker walked, advanced to third on a single by Adam Matthews and scored on a groundout.
The Wildcats then struck for three runs against South Carolina’s bullpen in the ninth inning, when Robert Refsnyder led off with a single and scored the go-ahead run on the double by Dixon. Gilbert’s two-out single drove in two more runs, providing a three-run cushion that looked to be needed when the Gamecocks loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning.
Mathew Troupe then retired Tanner English on a line drive to second base and Grayson Greiner on a fly ball to close out the win and set off an infield celebration by the Wildcats.
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