TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Konner Wade tossed a six-hitter and Arizona earned its first trip to the College World Series since 2004 by beating St. John’s 7-4 on Saturday to complete a two-game sweep.
A three-time national champion, Arizona (43-17) earned a share of the Pac-12 championship for the first time since 1993 and is headed back to Omaha for the 16th time after finishing off the Red Storm.
The Wildcats rallied from five runs down to win the first game of the super regional on Friday and jumped on St. John’s (40-24) early in Game 2, scoring three runs in the first inning off Sean Hagan (8-3).
Wade (9-3) allowed four runs, and Bobby Brown had two RBIs to set off raucous celebration at Hi Corbett Field.
Arizona had a dramatic win in the series opener Friday, fighting back from the big deficit and down a run in the 10th inning to win 7-6 on Trent Gilbert’s game-ending RBI single.
The Wildcats got out to the early lead this time, thanks to a mistake by Danny Bethea.
With two outs in the first inning, the St. John’s catcher was called for interference when his glove got in the way of Robert Refsnyder’s swing on a grounder up the middle. Instead of going off with the third out, St. John’s had to stay out and watch Seth Mejias-Brean, Brown and Joseph Maggi each hit run-scoring singles that put Arizona up 3-0 before the Red Storm came to bat for the first time.
Mejia added a run-scoring single in the second inning after Joey Rickard worked a walk for the second straight at-bat, giving Wade a nice early cushion.
Arizona’s lanky right-hander was good early, needing just six pitches to get through the first inning. He got some help in the second, when Mejia made a sliding grab at shortstop to throw out Frank Schwindel, and Maggi dived to smother a ball down the line at first to rob Sean O’Hare.
Wade retired the first nine batters until Kyle Richardson’s leadoff single in the fourth inning, but Mejia erased him with another spectacular stop, diving up the middle and flipping the ball to second baseman Gilbert to start a double play.
St. John’s got an unearned run off Wade in the fifth inning, when Bethea lined a run-scoring single to left after Gilbert was charged with a throwing error on O’Hare’s grounder. Another error by Gilbert, this one on a squirrely grounder by Richardson, and a passed ball by Riley Moore set up an RBI groundout by Matt Wessinger in the sixth that cut Arizona’s lead to 4-2.
That would be as close as the Red Storm would get to forcing a third game.
Mejias-Brean chased Hagan with a leadoff double in the seventh inning and scored on Brown’s run-scoring double off James Lomangino. Brown followed with a run-scoring single that made it 6-2.
Hagan allowed five runs — four earned — on six hits in six innings, with seven walks.
St. John’s Zach Lauricella followed Jeremy Baltz’s leadoff double with a run-scoring single in the seventh inning off Wade, but Johnny Field had a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning that pushed Arizona’s lead to 7-3.
Wade induced a double play that gave up a run and then finished off his fourth complete game of the season by getting O’Hare on a nubber to second, sending the Wildcats into each other’s arms and on to Omaha.
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