OMAHA, NE – The Arizona Wildcats topped the South Carolina Gamecocks, 5-1 Sunday night in the first game of the best-of-three College World Series Championship Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
Arizona (47-17) broke out in front with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning off Carolina starter Forrest Koumas. Johnny Field stroked a one-out single to left and scored on Robert Refsnyder's two-run homer into the rightfield bullpen, his eighth round tripper of the season.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the third, scoring on an unearned run. Trent Gilbert reached on an error by Joey Pankake at short, moved to second on a single by Joey Rickard and scored on a single by Alex Mejia to make it 3-0 in favor of the Cats. Evan Beal replaced Koumas on the mound and forced Seth Mejias-Brean into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded, preventing any further damage in the frame.
Beal was able to work out of another Arizona scoring threat in the fourth when he induced Gilbert to roll into a double play with runners at the corners and one out.
However, Arizona extended its lead to 4-0 in the fifth with another unearned run. Field walked with one out, went to second on a wild pitch and continued on to third when Grayson Greiner's throw sailed wide of the base and into centerfield. He scored on a two-out single from Mejias-Brean.
Carolina (49-19) finally got on the board in the sixth when Greiner led off with a double into the left-centerfield alley and scored on Evan Marzilli's two-out RBI single to center.
The Gamecocks had an opportunity to inch a little closer in the seventh when Adam Matthews and Kyle Martin opened the frame with back-to-back singles, but Matthews was gunned down trying to advance to third on Martin's hit to right to stymie the rally.
Arizona added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Refsnyder reached base safely for the fourth time in the game with a one-out single, moved to second on a ground out and scored on Bobby Brown's RBI single to right.
Koumas (2-3), who was making his first start and just his second appearance since May 18th, was saddled with the loss after allowing four hits and three runs, two earned, with one walk and three strikeouts over two and a third innings.
Evan Beal turned in a solid performance in relief, keeping the Gamecocks in the contest. He worked five innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, one earned, with four walks and three strikeouts. Nolan Belcher finished up, working out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth by retiring the final two batters he faced.
Konner Wade (11-3) started and went the distance for the Wildcats, scattering six hits. He walked one and fanned three in turning in his second route-going performance at the 2012 CWS.
The Gamecocks were outhit 12-6 in the contest. Arizona left 11 runners on base while Carolina stranded five.
Game two of the best-of-three championship series will be played Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the contest live. South Carolina will be the home team. The Gamecocks will be facing their fourth elimination game of the tournament and need a win to force a deciding game three on Tuesday night.