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Arizona takes Game 1 of CWS Championship Series

Wade and Refsnyder phenomenal in Wildcats’ 5-1 Victory over Gamecocks

Arizona is a team that has been recognized nationally all season for it’s outstanding defense, excellent starting pitching and phenomenal batting order. In Game One of the CWS Championship Series, the Wildcats showed why.

Defense
Why Arizona was better:
The Wildcats started out the game with an early error, but leave it to Alex Mejia—reigning Pac-12 player and defensive player of the year—to flip a ridiculous double play and get Arizona back on the right foot. From there on the Wildcats continued to be stellar defensively including an impressive gun-down to third from Robert Refsnyder. Arizona dominated defensively not because South Carolina was bad offensively…but because Arizona’s defense stole a lot of golden opportunities from the Gamecocks.

Why South Carolina came up short:
Perhaps in the same ways that Arizona was able to dominate defensively, they were able to keep South Carolina from shutting down their offense. South Carolina, who only had one error in all previous 2012 CWS games, had two errors on the night and the Wildcats were able to capitalize. Normally the Gamecocks would be able to bounce back from errors like that, however the Wildcats batting order has no breaks, which caused the Gamecocks to struggle a bit.

The Bottom Line:
With both teams as strong defensively as they are, the team that will have the defensive edge will be the team that can keep errors to a minimum and come up with the big plays…in Game One, that team was Arizona.

Starting Pitching
Why Arizona was better:
Konner Wade has been absolutely fantastic this postseason. He pitched his second complete game of the CWS in Game One of the Championship Series, and was really the difference-maker in a match-up of two great ball clubs. Wade found the strike zone extremely well and his pitches were very effective. With a strong defense behind him, he provided a lot of confidence for Arizona.

Why South Carolina came up short:
South Carolina’s pitching wasn’t bad, however the Gamecocks didn’t get quite the start that they needed from Forrest Koumas. 2.1 innings pitched left South Carolina going to their bullpen early. Evan Beal pitched five complete to keep the Gamecocks in the game but South Carolina was unable to be productive offensively to stage a comeback.

The Bottom Line:
The consistency and confidence a team gains from a stellar appearance from their starting pitcher is a big edge. As previously noted, South Carolina didn’t pitch poorly…however Arizona gets the edge because Wade was lights out.

At the Plate
Why Arizona was better:
The Wildcats are batting .330 as a team on the year and above .360 as a team in the postseason…Arizona showed how they are so strong at the plate as they strung together 12 hits and had five batters walked. However, South Carolina did an excellent job of damage control as the Wildcats stranded 11 on base.

Why South Carolina came up short:
South Carolina hasn’t been a team that has needed to be highly productive offensively during the year so playing Arizona is a change of pace. The Gamecocks got outhit 12-6 and only managed to get one run across the plate.

The Bottom Line:
As much as Arizona was stronger at the plate in Game One, the Wildcats will need to be more productive if they want to continue to hold an offensive edge on the Gamecocks. On that same note, South Carolina will need to find a way to get on base more or to be more productive with their at-bats if they want to stay competitive.

Looking Ahead

In Game Two an interesting pitching match-up awaits. Arizona’s usual Sunday starter, James Farris, will take the mound for the Wildcats while South Carolina’s stud ace Michael Roth will start opposite him for the Gamecocks. Roth has been absolutely outstanding all season and has many South Carolina fans already counting on a game three, but Farris has been strong as well this year.

For the best coverage during Game Two of the CWS Championship Series be sure to follow us on twitter at @CB_Daily and to follow @gingerpoulson who is reporting live from the College World Series!