It was a pitcher's duel, and it felt like one of those nights. That's what happened Monday.
Just one of those nights that we've become accustomed to this postseason watching the Arizona Wildcats.
It was the team of destiny, always was. A three-peat on the line for the South Carolina Gamecocks? That wasn't destiny.
Arizona Starting pitcher James Farris did enough, and the UA bats pushed College World Series juggernaut Michael Roth out of the game after 6.2 innings. The Wildcats won their first NCAA baseball title since 1986 with a 4-1 victory against South Carolina, becoming the second team to go 10-0 in postseason play -- to the 2011 Gamecocks, no less -- and winning the fourth baseball championship in school history.
It was USC ace Roth, statistically the most heralded pitcher to see time on the mound in the College World Series, against Farris, UA's third option.
One bad pitch could decide it. After all, these were the Arizona Wildcats that made opportunities out of slim to nothing. But big mistakes have killed opponents against the Wildcats thus far in the postseason, and Andy Lopez's squad would often compound those mistakes with momentum-building responses to them.
It felt like one of those nights as well. You know, the ones that made for 10 postseason victories for the Wildcats.
Never overbearing emotion.
Never falling behind.
They did it with a three-run ninth inning. Repetitive hero Robert Refsnyder, a night after retweeting USC hecklers as a motivational tactic, led off with a single to left and reached second on a sac-bunt by Seth Mejias-Brean. Bobby Brown was intentionally walked, and USC reliever Matt Price had a good chance to force defensive first base replacement Brandon Dixon into an easy second out.
Dixon had other plans, however. He ripped a grounder fair past the third baseman to push Refsnyder home, which gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
Arizona would make the wound even deeper.
Again, one of those nights.
With Dixon and Brown on second and third respectively, a Trent Gilbert single scored them to give UA a 4-1 advantage.
The Gamecocks looked like they'd be back for a Game 3 in the ninth, appearing to ride their streak of seven straight wins in elimination games since the beginning of last year's CWS. But it wasn't so.
Arizona closer and freshman Mathew Troupe found himself with the bases loaded in the final inning, giving up a double and walking two. After a strikeout gave UA the first out of the final frame, a line-out snatched out of the air by Gilbert at second base gave Arizona the second out, and a pop-out to right field ended it, giving the Wildcats the first CWS victory under Lopez.
Farris went 7.2 innings, struck out four and gave up only one earned run as he outlasted Roth by an inning. Troupe got the win with his close, going 1.1 innings and striking out two.
And just as usual, it was Arizona getting the upper hand early.
Freshman Joe Maggi doubled to lead off the third inning and advanced to third base on a Riley Moore sacrifice bunt. Gilbert's followed with a knock to the second baseman, bringing in Maggi and giving Arizona a 1-0 lead.
USC's Kyle Martin punched in an RBI during the bottom of the seventh inning after Farris walked Christian Walker to lead off the frame, but that'd be it for the Gamecock offense.
South Carolina threatened again in the bottom of the eighth. Lead-off man Grayson Greiner was walked and on a sacrificial bunt attempt, Seth Mejias-Brean came hot off of his position at third base and whipped a pitched to cut down Greiner at second -- threat managed.
Arizona found itself in more trouble later in the eighth inning. With one out and Chase Vergason jumping off first, a wild throw to second after a Farris strikeout went over the head of Alex Mejia at second, and Vergason found himself at third with two outs. Freshman closer Mathew Troupe relieved Farris and struck out his first faced batter to get Arizona out of the inning unscathed.
The Wildcats, cold as they've been weren't done though.
The four-run ninth was what felt right.
It didn't come as a surprise. The history and experience of South Carolina felt oddly insignificant, at least from afar.
Maybe it was Arizona's body language, the likes of Alex Mejia keeping the younger players heads on straight in front of a national television audience and in front of more than 23,000 at TD Ameritrade Park. Maybe it was Arizona's Troupe, a freshman, getting out of the final inning with three on base.
Credit Lopez. Credit his trust in his players. Credit big defensive plays at the right times. Point out Greg Byrne's move to Hi Corbett that financial, and fundamentally, got UA ready for their run. Point out Brandon Dixon's first CWS at-bat resulting in the go-ahead run.
It's a perfect postseason.
The Nike shirts handed out to the champs afterward said it all.
"Wildcats own Omaha."