OMAHA, Neb. — Brandon Dixon’s tie-breaking double started a three-run ninth inning for Arizona, and the Wildcats won their first national title since 1986 with a 4-1 victory over two-time defending champion South Carolina on Monday night.
James Farris and Mathew Troupe combined to limit the Gamecocks to three hits as the Wildcats won their fourth title overall. The others came in 1976 and 1980.
Dixon, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning, sent a grounder down the third-base line past LB Dantzler’s outstretched glove for his first hit of the CWS.
Tyler Webb relieved Matt Price (5-5), and Trent Gilbert drove in his second and third runs of the game with a two-out single that broke open the game.
“We were extremely fortunate to get away with this victory,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said.
South Carolina had been trying to become the first team since the Southern California dynasty of the early 1970s to win three titles in a row.
Lopez, who won a national championship at Pepperdine in 1992, became the second coach to win a Division I baseball title at two different schools. Augie Garrido was the first, winning three at Cal State Fullerton and two at Texas.
Down three runs in the bottom of the ninth, South Carolina loaded the bases against Troupe (6-1) on two walks and a single.
With one out, Tanner English sent a line drive up the middle that second baseman Trent Gilbert gloved. Gilbert rushed to the bag to double off Dantzler, but Dantzler got back just in time.
Grayson Greiner then flied out to right fielder Robert Refsnyder on a 2-1 pitch, sparking a rush of Arizona players to the middle of the field for the celebratory pile-on.
Dixon, batting .242 for the season, had been 0 for 7 with three strikeouts in his previous CWS at-bats. As usual, he replaced first baseman Joseph Maggi in the middle innings and got his opportunity in the ninth after CWS Most Outstanding Player Refsnyder singled leading off the ninth.
Arizona scored in the third after Maggi doubled leading off, moved to third on Riley Moore’s sacrifice and scored on Gilbert’s groundout.