On Monday night, Arizona proved that the hottest team is the one that is most capable of winning a championship, even when it's facing a team that has been there and done that twice before.
With a 4-1 win over South Carolina on Monday, Arizona took home its first College World Series title since 1986, and there was no team more dominant or more deserving of the honor.
The Wildcats swept the two-time defending champion South Carolina in the CWS championship, ending the Gamecocks' dreams of becoming the first team to three-peat since 1970. Instead, they put themselves on the map as the new team to beat in college baseball.
The Wildcats went unbeaten this postseason and flourished during the CWS, winning all five of their games by a combined score of 27-8. There was only one team that managed to give Arizona any kind of a challenge during the CWS, and that was Florida State in the first game of the tournament—but the Wildcats ultimately won 4-3 in 12 innings.
Arizona proved to be the kind of team that can find a way to win, no matter what the situation. More often than not, they won via a blowout. In each game of this postseason, the Wildcats scored at least four runs, and in each game of the Super Regionals, it scored at least seven. In each game of the regionals, they scored at least 15 runs.
All the while, the pitching staff allowed an average of 2.8 runs per game throughout the postseason. In all 10 of those games, the starter lasted into the eighth inning, including Monday's starter, James Farris, who threw 7.2 innings of two-hit ball and allowed one run.
It's rare that any team gets its pitching and its hitting going at the same time and keeps them both rolling throughout the entire postseason, but Arizona managed to do it. The Wildcats were able to abuse their opponents' pitching throughout the postseason, but they also came up with big hits in close contests. Last night the score was knotted at one in the top of the ninth, but the Wildcats tallied three runs in the frame, including the game-winner on Brandon Dixon's one-out double.
In the bottom of the ninth, Arizona's pitching did its part with equal aplomb. Though USC managed to load the bases against Mathew Troupe with two walks and a single, Troupe got out of it by inducing a flyout to right to end the game.
The pitching and the hitting both showed up when it mattered the most, and South Carolina's offense—which only mustered two runs over two games against Arizona—didn't.
USC may have been the most dominant team over the last two years, but it finally met its match in this championship series, and now there's a new top dog in the world of college baseball. No one could match the Wildcats' momentum this year, and if it carries over into next season, this team could be well on its way to doing what the Gamecocks couldn't.
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