Arizona's magical run through the NCAA Tournament is still alive. The Wildcats, who began this tourney as a two-seed in Lafayette, La., and battled through a super regional in Starkville, staved off elimination from Omaha with a 3-0 win over UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats once again leaned on dominant pitching, getting seven innings of five-hit ball from JC Cloney followed by a six-out save from reliever Cameron Ming. Arizona has allowed just two runs through 27 innings in Omaha.
UCSB got just three innings from starter Justin Kelly, who coughed up seven hits and the game's only runs with a three-spot in the third frame. Arizona used a single and a walk to put two men on, then scored one of them on a popup that went for a sac fly. Kelly was one out away from minimizing the damage, but outfielder Jared Oliva crushed his first pitch deep over the left-field wall for his fourth homer of the year.
It's also been one hell of a run for the Gauchos, who fought through the Nashville Regional before heading to the supers to knock off the tournament's No. 2 overall seed, Louisville, in one of the most memorable plays in tournament history: a walk-off grand slam hit by a backup freshman catcher.
Arizona now has to face a well-rested Oklahoma State pitching staff that's allowed just six total runs through a perfect 7-0 start in the NCAA Tourney. Not only will the Cowboys be sitting on a four-day rest come Friday, their relievers have thrown a total of one inning in Omaha thanks to a complete game by Thomas Hatch and an eight-inning gem by Tyler Buffett.
Freshman Jensen Elliott, who's 9-2 on the season and allowed just one run against national seed Clemson in his last start, will be backed by a fully stocked bullpen. If the Wildcats do manage to get past Elliott, they'll have to turn around and beat OK State again on Saturday to advance to the finals.
Here's what the Group 1 bracket looks like after Wednesday, via NCAA.com:
On the other side of the bracket, TCU is patiently awaiting the winner of Coastal Carolina-Texas Tech, who face off on Thursday night.