OMAHA—Arizona’s return to the College World Series lasted much shorter than anyone could have expected.
The Wildcats lost 14-5 to Stanford on Monday afternoon before a crowd of 19,341 at TD Ameritrade Park, making them the first team eliminated from the tournament after losing their first two games.
“Today, they were just better,” said UA coach Jay Johnson, whose team fell to 1-3 this season against Stanford. “They were ready to play. They hit everything.”
Arizona (45-18) went 0-2 in Omaha for the first time since 1985, an abbreviated run that also ended with a sizable loss to Stanford. The 9-run margin tied for the Wildcats’ fourth-worst in CWS history and most lopsided since falling 16-3 to eventual national champion Cal State Fullerton in 1979.
The UA lost consecutive games for only the fourth time this season, the first time since a 3-game skid in mid-April, after which it went 24-5 to win its first Pac-12 championship since 2012 and reach its first College World Series since 2016.
A day and a half after battling defending champ Vanderbilt for 12 innings, this time the UA fell behind early and never recovered as lefty starter Garrett Irvin again didn’t have it. He was coming off his worst outing of the year in the Super Regionals against Ole Miss and had to work out of trouble in the first two innings before things fell apart in the third.
Stanford (39-16) recorded five straight hits with one out against Irvin, who lasted only 2.1 IP. The Cardinal led 3-0 when Chandler Murphy came on with two runners on, and after getting a pop out battled with Stanford’s Drew Bowser, who fouled off four straight 2-strike pitches before singling through the left side to bring in two more runs. Tommy Troy followed with a 2-run home run to left to make it 7-0.
“I think they had a really good plan against him,” Johnson said of Irvin. “And he made some mistakes. Those are big, strong, physical guys. At least in terms of the Pac-12, the two most physical teams made it here in us and them.”
Stanford added three more in the fourth, pushing Murphy out after only one inning for Quinn Flanagan.
Arizona got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, drawing a pair of walks ahead of a 2-out, 2-run double by Daniel Susac that Stanford CF Brock Jones chased down in the right-center gap but had it go off his glove.
A 3-run 6th cut the deficit to 10-5. Susac doubled home Tony Bullard with one out, forcing out Stanford starter Alex Williams, who only allowed four hits and seemed to fool Arizona’s left-handed bats with a cutting fastball. Kobe Kato followed with an RBI triple then came home on a Tanner O’Tremba sacrifice fly.
Stanford put any thought of a UA comeback to bed by plating four in the seventh. The big blow was a 2-out, 3-run homer by Jones, to make it 14-5. Seven Arizona pitchers combined to allow 20 hits, third-most this season, including seven for extra bases.
“When it was 10-0, it was going to be hard to come back and win that game against that quality of team. And we just met in the dugout and just said, ‘hey, like not that I don’t care if we win, but let’s be realistic about what’s going on here,”’ Johnson said. “There’s no way a group of this good of character that are this good of competitors is going to go out like this. And then we immediately scored two. And then scored three. And it was 10-5. Now you’re thinking with our offense, you know, the daytime, if we can get some zeros up, might have a chance to claw back in it. I was really proud of them for that. We just couldn’t keep them off the board, in the ballpark, off the barrel of the bat. And it made it really difficult to get any solid momentum in coming back.”
The Wildcats finished with seven hits, and after getting nine against Vandy marked just the second time this season they went consecutive games without reaching double digits in hits.
The final out was made by Donta’ Williams, who lined to the second baseman to finish 0 for 5 and have his 48-game on-base streak come to an end. He tied for the longest in school history with Zach Gibbons, who had a 48-game streak during the UA’s 2016 CWS season.
“We made it to the College World Series,” Williams said. “I mean, that’s everybody’s dream growing up. So this team was special. This team was very special. And it’s just hard.”
This story will be updated.