OMAHA, Neb. — Their defensive substitution delivered their biggest hit in years, and their No. 9 hitter battled like a cleanup guy.
Because of it, the Arizona Wildcats are College World Series champions for the first time since 1986.
Brandon Dixon ripped a one-out RBI double to left field in the ninth inning and Trent Gilbert followed with a two-RBI single, giving the UA a 4-1 College World Series Finals win over South Carolina in front of 23,872 at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Wildcats never trailed in five CWS games. The club led 1-0 until tonight's seventh inning, when South Carolina — the two-time defending national champions — pulled even.
Then, they pulled away.
“This is the biggest adrenaline rush of my life,” said CWS MVP Robert Refsnyder, who singled, scored the go-ahead run and also caught the final out.
Said Dixon: “It’s what you dream of.”
Dixon and Gilbert's hits came as part of a technically perfect ninth inning. Refsnyder led off with a single to left-field and advanced to second when Seth Mejias-Brean laid down a bunt with two strikes. That brought up Dixon, who ripped reliever Matt Price's fastball down the third-base line and into the left-field corner. South Carolina changed pitchers, and struck out Riley Moore. With two gone, Gilbert shot a single through the right side, extending the UA's lead.
The ninth-inning dramatics broke a hard-earned tie.
South Carolina's Kyle Martin drove home a run with a groundout, pulling the Gamecocks and Wildcats even at 1-1. The seventh-inning rally helped mar a stellar start by UA pitcher James Farris, who allowed just two hits to the two-time defending national champions before leaving with two outs in the eighth. Reliever Mat Troupe struck out Joey Pankake to end the inning, then got the final three outs.
As usual, he made it exciting. South Carolina's Christian Walker led off with a single, and the Gamecocks took advantage of two walks to load the bases with one out. Tanner English lined out to Gilbert, and Troupe got Grayson Greiner to fly out to right field.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Joe Maggi doubled, then moved to third base on a bunt and scored on Gilbert’s groundout to second base.
Maggi’s double off South Carolina ace Michael Roth was the first hit off the South Carolina left-hander in 28 batters, dating back to his last start against Kent State. The Wildcats managed just three hits off Roth before he was lifted with two out in the top of the seventh.