OMAHA, Neb. — Konner Wade threw his third straight complete game, Robert Refsnyder homered for the second game in a row and Arizona beat two-time defending national champion South Carolina 5-1 in the opener of the College World Series championship series Sunday night.
Wade (11-3) limited the Gamecocks to six hits to help the Wildcats (47-17) move within a win of their first national title since 1986 and their fourth overall.
"We understand where we're at. These guys understand who they're playing," Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. "They understand it's not a tournament somewhere in South Dakota."
The Gamecocks (49-19) swept UCLA and Florida in the best-of-three final the past two years but now need to beat Arizona twice to become the first team since Southern California (1970--74) to win three titles in a row. Game 2 is at 8 tonight (ESPN).
"So we have to come out (today) and pretend like nothing ever happened, and go out and hopefully get a win," Gamecocks outfielder Evan Marzilli said.
Refsnyder, batting .444 (8-for-18) in the CWS, hit a two-run homer off Forrest Koumas (2-3) in the first and scored in the fifth to make it a four-run game. His homer was the first allowed by South Carolina in 77 innings.
"It helped Konner's confidence to get him a few runs and helped the team," Refsynder said of Wade, 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four NCAA starts.
Lopez, who won a national title with Pepperdine, can join Augie Garrido as the only coaches to win Division I baseball national titles at two schools.
Honor for Gator: Catcher Mike Zunino was named the player of the year by Baseball America, the first UF player to receive the honor.