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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wade dominates, brings Arizona baseball within one game of championship series

Amy Webb
Amy Webb / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball vs. NDSU in the opening weekend of the season and on Hi-Corbet Field.

OMAHA, Neb. — Sunday’s 4-0 win over UCLA was the 79th complete-game shutout in College World Series. It was the 100th shutout in 65 years of World Series action, and those accolades belong to both pitcher Konner Wade and the Arizona Wildcats, as they move within one game of the Championship series.

UCLA, the Pac-12 co-champions, who took two of three in Tucson in the regular season had no answer for Wade all night, who for the second time this postseason, did not walk a batter in his fifth complete game performance of the season.

“Give Wade a ton of credit,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. He really pitched well tonight. We rolled over all night, which is really a credit to him. He pitched as well as anybody we’ve seen all year.”

The Bruins entered the game after pounding Stony Brook in Friday’s first game. Against the Seawolves, UCLA got nine hits and nine runs. In Sunday’s game, Wade held them to just four hits, all singles, and no runs, lowering his postseason ERA to 1.09.

“He was really pounding the zone in on us a lot early,” UCLA shortstop Pat Valaika said. “So he was getting ahead in counts. He was mixing pretty good. He was just keeping us off balance.”

UCLA’s starting pitcher, Nick Vander Tuig was one bad inning away from possibly joining Wade in the ranks of World Series history.

In the fourth, the only inning the Wildcats were able to score, Vander Tuig gave up five hits in a row, ending his bid at a perfect game and the Bruins hopes of staying with their Pac-12 rival.

“We were fortunate to get one inning where we got some offense, and when you have two good clubs getting together like that, you know, that’s the difference,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said.

Starting the hit parade for Arizona was left fielder Johnny Field, who has now recorded at least one hit in every postseason game. Field singled down the right field line and was moved into scoring position via a single by Alex Mejia to left field.

The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out off a Robert Refsnyder single through the left side, and scored all of their runs on back-to-back doubles from Seth Mejias-Brean and Bobby Brown, who were a combined 0-for-11 in Friday’s defeat of Florida State.

“He left some balls up there that one inning,” Brown said. “We took advantage of it, put some good swings on the ball. It worked out for us.”

Apart from the fourth frame, the Wildcats only recorded one other hit, a single from Riley Moore in the seventh.

Wade recorded four strikeouts, but was aided by his defense, which allowed just four Bruins to reach base, all on singles. Despite his early dominance, the Bruins started to rally in the top of the fifth much in the way Arizona did, loading the bases with two out.

According to Wade, Lopez approached him and reminded him to stay composed. The next pitch, Wade got Bruin second baseman Kevin Williams to fly out to left field, ending the Bruin threat.

Over the remaining four innings, Wade gave up just one hit, striking out two and retiring 10 of the last 13 batters.

Arizona will now have three days until their next game, against the winner of Tuesday night’s Florida State-UCLA elimination game. The Wildcats defeated Florida State 4-3 in 12 innings Friday night.

“We won’t have three days off,” Lopez said. “We’ll practice tomorrow, we’ll practice every day we’re out here. I think they’ll handle it. It’s a group that’s been pretty resilient.”

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