Arizona and Coastal Carolina both won rubber games in Omaha on Saturday, setting up one of the most improbable finals matches in the history of the College World Series.
In the early game, the Wildcats put away Oklahoma State, 5-1, for their sixth elimination game win of the tournament. Coastal won its second straight game over TCU in the nightcap, advancing to the finals with a 7-5 win. They'll meet each other in a best-of-three national championship series beginning Monday.
This time last month, Arizona was just one game above .500 in the historically woeful Pac-12. They came into the Lafayette Regional as a two-seed and lost the second game they played in, forcing them to win three straight (including back-to-back against the host) to make it to a super regional against Mississippi State. Arizona swept the No. 6 national seed in Starkville, completing a four-run comeback in Game 2 by walking off in the 11th inning. They won their opening CWS game against Miami but lost two days later to Oklahoma State. Once again, they rallied to win three straight.
Coastal had a similar road, winning an elimination game to advance out of the Raleigh Regional before sweeping national seed LSU in the supers. After knocking off No. 1 overall seed Florida in their Omaha opener, the Chants were knocked into the losers bracket by TCU, but rallied to win three straight.
Arizona 5, Oklahoma State 1
With his offense struggling yet again, Oklahoma State ace Thomas Hatch lasted just two innings. The Big 12 Pitcher of the year, who hadn't allowed a single run during his first three tournament starts, was knocked around early and often by the Wildcats, surrendering four runs on five hits.
OK State began this tournament 7-0, thanks almost exclusively to a pitching staff that allowed just six runs during that span. But when the strain finally caught up to the arms, the bats were nowhere to be found. The Cowboys managed just one run on seven hits on Saturday against Arizona, the sixth straight postseason game in which they failed to reach double digits hits.
Arizona, meanwhile, got a brilliant, seven-inning relief outing from two-way star Bobby Dalbec, who allowed just six baserunners while striking out six.
Coastal Carolina vs. TCU
The Chants came into the CWS leading the country with 94 homers, but it took until the second inning of their fifth game for Tyler Chadwick to finally give them No. 95.
The blast ignited a long-awaited offensive outburst from Coastal, which went on to tally 12 hits against TCU's previously dominant pitching staff. The big blow for the Chants came in the fourth inning, when they plated four runs to push themselves out to a 7-1 lead. Chadwick, who ended the night 3-for-4, led the frame off with a single, which was followed by a three more hits.
All four of those runs came against Frogs reliever Brian Trieglaff, who took over for starter Jared Janczak at the beginning of the fourth.
Stifled by Chants starter Alex Cunningham through the first five innings, the Frogs offense finally began finding success in the later frames, scoring four straight runs between the sixth and ninth to cut the deficit to two runs. But after allowing a pair of runs in the ninth, Chants reliever Bobby Holmes was finally able to record the final out.