Arizona pitcher JC Cloney went the distance on Monday night, dealing nine scoreless innings to Coastal Carolina's robust lineup and knotting a 3-0 win in the opening game of the College World Series final round. The Wildcats are now just one win away from the NCAA Baseball Tournament title.
One looming question entering Tuesday's Game 2 surrounds Coastal Carolina's bats. The best home run hitting team in the NCAA this year connected for just four hits Monday, after blowing up against TCU in the double elimination round. Gone too was Coastal's ability to move runners around the diamond, as any possible rally that held promise soon fell dead under the weight of Cloney's dominance on the hill. Should the Chants want to see a Game 3 on Wednesday, they'll have to find a way to connect in tandem and capitalize on aggressive base running.
Arizona's shutdown pitching and crushing defense carried the day Monday, with groundout after groundout putting an end to any kind of Coastal rally. Chanticleers starter Zack Hopeck pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs, but there were plenty of moments that the wheels could have fallen completely off the bus, especially in the early going.
Game 2's pitching matchup should be interesting. Will the Wildcats' tall man Bobby Dalbec get the ball? Further, just who is Coastal going to send to the mound? After a marathon opening weekend in Omaha, many Chants arms have thrown a lot of pitches, and the Wildcats' bullpen is deep.
Whoever starts Tuesday, both these teams enjoy the small ball style of play, built on sound defense and no-holds-barred base running, complete with hilariously spirited benches. We should root for as much baseball as possible.
How to watch
What: College World Series Game 2
Where: TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Neb.
When: 8 p.m. ET
Online Streaming: WatchESPN