06/26/12 1:25 AM ET
Arizona wins first title since '86, ends SC's reign
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded in Game 2 of the College World Series finals Monday, South Carolina's Grayson Greiner hit a high fly ball to Arizona's Refsnyder in right.
Refsnyder camped under it ... and waited.
"I wanted the ball to come down already," Refsnyder said. "I just wanted it to be over."
The ball finally hit Refsnyder's glove. The Wildcats were NCAA champions.
Refsnyder began a tiebreaking three-run top of the ninth with a single and was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as Arizona defeated two-time defending champion South Carolina, 4-1, on Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park to clinch the NCAA championship.
"You work so hard for a moment and to be able to capitalize on the biggest stage in college baseball, I'm truly blessed right now," said Refsnyder, the Yankees' fifth-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. "It doesn't get any better than this as a college baseball player."
Refsynder hit .476 (10-for-21) with two home runs and five RBIs in five games in Omaha.
"He's definitely a guy I love playing with," said shortstop Alex Mejia, the Cardinals' fourth-round pick. "He's a great competitor, and you know he isn't going to get cheated in his at-bats. He's not giving up outs. He's competing until the last out."
South Carolina competed until the final out, as well.
After Arizona took a three-run lead on big hits by Brandon Dixon and Trent Gilbert, South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker (fourth round, Orioles) singled to open the bottom of the ninth. Right-hander Mathew Troupe walked two before getting a lineout and a flyout to end it.
"Man, the ball hit the glove and giving [Arizona head coach Andy Lopez] the final game ball, it was just really special," Refsnyder said.
The Wildcats scored their runs off two of the best pitchers in College World Series history. Left-hander Michael Roth (ninth round, Angels) started and allowed only one run in 6 2/3 innings. Arizona's three-run ninth came against South Carolina closer Matthew Price (seventh round, Orioles).
"Michael Roth's a legend. He's as good as I've seen in postseason," Lopez said. "Their closer, my God. ... I will go to bed tonight, if I do sleep, and know in my heart that, boy, we were fortunate enough to win against an outstanding pitching staff and an outstanding program."
Roth is the all-time leader in innings (60 1/3) and starts (eight) in the College World Series, where he's 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA. Price is the all-time leader in wins (five) and is tied for first with 13 appearances.
"They've been very, very successful on this stage," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. "It would take a long time for two guys to have as many appearances, as many innings and good success that they've had in Omaha at the College World Series. These guys have been very special."
Roth, Walker, and center fielder Evan Marzilli (eighth round, D-backs) all were named to the All-Tournament team. Five Wildcats joined Refsnyder on the All-Tournament team, including center fielder Joey Rickard (ninth round, Rays).
Despite Roth's career numbers, Arizona right-hander James Farris was better Monday night. Farris allowed one run on two hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking two.
"Unbelievable," Lopez said. "Matched up against a legend. ... For James, just matching up inning, inning, inning ... [I feel] happy."
He isn't the only one.
Along with Refsnyder, Mejia and Rickard, fellow juniors right-hander Kurt Heyer (sixth round, Cardinals) and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean (eighth round, Reds) also were drafted. It's now time to look ahead at their potential professional careers after finishing their collegiate careers with a championship.
"We knew this probably was going to be the last time all of us juniors were going to be here," Refsnyder said. "Before the tournament started, we brought ourselves together and we really knew this was our last college thing together. We wanted to make it special and look at us now: We're national champions."
College World Series finals results
Sunday Arizona 5, No. 8 South Carolina 1
Monday Arizona 4, No. 8 South Carolina 1