Omaha, NE – Brandon Dixon's first hit of the College World Series couldn't have come at a better time.
Dixon, inserted into the game for his defense in the late innings, hooked a breaking ball inside the third-base bag for the go-ahead double in the ninth, leading Arizona to its first national championship since 1986 with a 4-1 victory over South Carolina in Game 2 of the best-of-three series.
Dixon's hit, easily the biggest of his collegiate career, came against heralded closer Matt Price, who saw it all unravel in the ninth as the Gamecocks were denied their third straight national championship.
Price surrendered earned runs for just the second time in his decorated College World Series career, but it came at the most inopportune time against the underdog Wildcats, who got a sterling pitching performance by James Farris. The right-hander lived on the corners all night, giving up just one run on two hits with four strikeouts and two walks over 7 2/3 frames.
His counterpart Michael Roth was nearly his equal, giving up one run on three hits with three strikeouts and one walk over 6 2/3 innings at TD Ameritrade Park.
Robert Refsnyder, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, kicked off the ninth with a single to left and moved to second on a great sacrifice, only the second of the season, by Seth Mejias-Brean. Bobby Brown was intentionally walked, setting the stage for the defensive replacement Dixon, who hit a hard grounder down into the left-field corner that scored Refsnyder.
Tyler Webb replaced Price and recorded a strikeout, but he couldn't limit the damage as Trent Gilbert drove in a pair of insurance runs with a single to right. Gilbert drove in three runs on the game, helping Arizona clinch its fourth College World Series title.
Arizona went 10-0 at the College World Series, becoming the second team to accomplish that feat since the field expanded in 1999. It took a 5-1 decision in Game 1 then completed the sweep on Monday night in Omaha.
South Carolina loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the frame, but couldn't push across a run.
The Wildcats scratched out a run in the third as Joe Maggi doubled down the line and into left field, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Gilbert's grounder to second.
South Carolina's first hit came in the fourth with a single off the bat of LB Dantzler, but he was left there after Adam Matthews grounded out to second.
Arizona put a pair of runners on base in the seventh beginning with Alex Mejia's single to center. He was sacrificed to second and Mejias-Brean was intentionally walked before Roth got Brown to ground into a fielder's choice. The southpaw then gave way to Price, who coaxed a fly out in his first meeting with Dixon.
The Gamecocks mustered the tying run in the seventh as Christian Walker walked, moved to third on Matthews' chopper that found open real estate into right field and scored on Kyle Martin's slow groundout to first.
Price got into a jam in the eighth after allowing a one-out single and watching as the third baseman Dantzler threw a routine, inning-ending hot shot into the ground for an error to put runners on first and third. He escaped, however, as Mejia lined out to center.