The Arizona Wildcats' superior pitching helped them get the upper hand in Game 1 of the 2016 College World Series finals in Omaha, Nebraska, as they defeated Coastal Carolina 3-0 on Monday.
Tuesday's Game 2 presents the Wildcats with the opportunity to win NCAA baseball's top prize for the second time in five years, adding to their collection of four national titles. The Chanticleers must bounce back and thrive in the mid-major underdog role to stave off elimination.
Read on for the remaining schedule of games on the Omaha slate, followed by a preview of Game 2.
|2016 College World Series Finals Schedule|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|2||Tuesday, June 28||8 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|3 (if necessary)||Wednesday, June 29||8 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Coastal Carolina vs. Arizona Game 2 Preview
Arizona pitcher JC Cloney couldn't have been much more impressive in the CWS championship opener. He became the first ever to toss a complete-game shutout in the finals with a four-hit gem against a Coastal Carolina lineup that's hit 95 home runs on the year.
Ryan McGee of ESPN The Magazine weighed in on Cloney's masterpiece:
For the Chants' high-octane batting order not to produce any extra-base hits is quite a shock, yet it's also a testament to the stupendous defense the Wildcats have played to complement their pitching.
Zach Gibbons committed an inning-ending robbery that dashed Coastal Carolina's hopes of generating a ton of momentum, courtesy of NCAA Baseball on Twitter:
Plays like those have kept Arizona rolling through Omaha. Head coach Jay Johnson noted how sound tactics and masterful dealers have helped the Wildcats execute elite-level defense.
"We set our defense for our pitchers making pitches," said Johnson, per Ezra Amacher of the Daily Wildcat. "And our pitchers are making pitches that are helping us get them to hit the ball where we want them to."
The club's official Twitter feed further highlighted how brilliant the Wildcats pitchers have been:
As is evident in the previously shown highlight-reel play, though, that's how close the Chants were to changing the game with one swing of the bat. They are a threat to do that at any given time, which is why it's hard to believe they'll be held in check for a second straight contest.
With the desperation of a must-win situation factored in, the probable embarrassment of being goose-egged and the innate chip on the shoulder that comes with being a mid-major program, Coastal Carolina has the makeup of a bounce-back team.
But having to rally to such a significant degree will be a tall order versus Arizona. Look no further than its own boasting about its pitching and the implicit depth of the starting staff and bullpen.
The Wildcats appear to be zeroed in on the Chants' tendencies based on Monday's collective performance. They also haven't allowed more than three runs in their past nine games that ended in nine innings—during the most critical stretch of the season, no less.
If Coastal Carolina is meant to have a chance to stay alive, it needs to capitalize on its speed, which has helped the Chants steal 112 bases this season.
Forcing Game 3 may depend on whether CCU can play small ball in lieu of long flies over the fence from the likes of Connor Owings (16 HR), Zach Remillard (19 HR), G.K. Young (17 HR) and Michael Paez (15 HR).
However, that isn't really CCU's game. Opponents have had only a 59 percent success rate at stealing against Arizona after Wildcats catcher Cesar Salazar and Co. snuffed out the Chants' lone Game 1 attempt.
The deeper one delves into Tuesday's breakdown, the clearer it seems Arizona will prevail in a College World Series sweep.
Game 2 Score Prediction: Arizona 4, Coastal Carolina 3