Gamecocks’ three-peat bid runs out of gas vs. Arizona

South Carolina’s run for a third straight national championship came to an end Monday night in Omaha at the hands of an unlikely source.

Brandon Dixon’s first hit of the College World Series drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and Arizona defeated the Gamecocks 4-1 to clinch the Wildcats’ first national championship since 1986.

Arizona (49-17) won its fourth CWS title, its first since 1986, by winning the best-of-three championship series 2-0 over two-time defending national champion South Carolina (49-20) in Omaha, Neb.

Dixon, who entered the game in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement at first base, hit an RBI double down the left field line off South Carolina star closer Matt Price with one out in the top of the ninth to break a 1-1 tie.

Price exited, and reliever Tyler Webb struck out Riley Moore for the second out. No. 9 hitter Trent Gilbert then hit a two-run single to extend Arizona’s lead to three runs.

Wildcats freshman reliever Mathew Troupe, who came out of the bullpen to strike out Joey Pankake with the tying run at third base and two outs in the eighth, pitched the ninth for his eighth victory of the season.

Troupe worked out of trouble after South Carolina loaded the bases with one out in the ninth. He got a lineout to second base and a fly ball that right fielder Robert Refsnyder caught for the final out. Refsnyder was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Troupe had replaced right-handed sophomore James Farris, who allowed one run on two hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Farris, who was making his first appearance in three weeks, gamely dueled South Carolina senior ace Michael Roth, who allowed one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Joseph Maggi doubled to lead off, advanced on Moore’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Gilbert’s grounder to second base.

South Carolina tied the score at 1 in the bottom of the seventh. Christian Walker, in a 12-pitch plate appearance, drew a leadoff walk. He went to third base on Adam Matthews’ single and scored on Kyle Martin’s slow roller to second base.

Arizona coach Andy Lopez, who led Pepperdine to the 1992 national championship, became only the second coach to lead two programs to CWS titles.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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