Arizona Baseball

Omaha, Oh-ma-God: Arizona Wildcats one win from fifth NCAA title behind stellar pitching



What Arizona’s pitching staff has accomplished at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., in the Wildcats’ two College World Series appearances is indeed legendary.

Crafty lefty JC Cloney’s complete-game four-hit shutout Monday of Coastal Carolina in Game 1 of the College World Series final is an example of the pitching dominance Arizona has displayed in the Wildcats’ title run in 2012 and this year’s near-completion of another championship.

Cloney, a junior, did not allow an earned run over 16 innings in his two starts at TD Ameritrade against UC Santa Barbara last Wednesday and against Coastal Carolina last night, both 3-0 victories. He is the first pitcher to throw a shutout since the NCAA went to a College World Series best-of-three finals format in 2003.

Arizona’s pitchers in six College World Series games this year have posted a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings. Nathan Bannister, Bobby Dalbec, Cameron Ming and Co. have allowed opponents to hit only .186 while striking out 54 and walking only 16.

Dating back to the 2012 title, Arizona pitchers are 10-1 at TD Ameritrade Park, tallying a 1.06 ERA with only 12 earned runs in 102 innings. Opponents have batted only .189 against Wildcat pitching in the two College World Series appearances. The 2012 rotation of Konner Wade, James Farris and Kurt Heyer combined with relievers Mathew Troupe and Tyler Crawford to allow only six earned runs in 48 innings (1.12 ERA).

With Monday’s shutout performance, Cloney became the 10th Arizona starter in the Wildcats’ 11 games at TD Ameritrade Park to pitch at least seven innings. He frustrated Coastal Carolina — a team that was shut out only once before this season on March 8 against Wake Forest — all night with 13 ground-ball outs.

Arizona coach Jay Johnson is most impressed with Cloney’s “mental disposition, his ability to block out everything else that’s going around him and just focus on getting a good visual of the target and attacking the mitt.”

“Secondly, he’s an impressive-looking guy,” Johnson continued. “I mean, his lower half looks like he should be playing defensive tackle for Coach (Rich) Rodriguez, and that matters and it allows him to hold his stuff throughout the game and he doesn’t drop off very much.

“And probably the last thing, I think he wanted to kill me last Saturday against Santa Barbara when he hadn’t given up any runs. I went up to talk to him in the eighth, give him reinforcement on something, and he was like: ‘Get away from me.'”

As is customary with Johnson, Arizona’s starter for Tuesday’s Game 2 of the College World Series will not be announced until close to game time. Judging from the pitchers he has available it will possibly be junior right-hander Kevin Ginkel, 5-1 and 3.07 ERA with six starts this season.

Arizona ace Nathan Bannister (12-2 with a 2.59 ERA) might also pitch if he is cleared by Arizona’s trainers. He was pulled from Friday’s game against Oklahoma State after pitching only 2 2/3 innings because of stiffness in his right pitching forearm.

Listed next are the dominating numbers compiled by Arizona’s pitchers at TD Ameritade Park in 2012 and this year at the College World Series:




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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.


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