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Arizona takes Game 1 of College World Series title series

By Brian Rosenthal, The Sports Xchange

OMAHA, Neb. -- JC Cloney had just enough to finish the game and give the Arizona bullpen some needed rest.

Cloney allowed four hits in a complete-game shutout, and Arizona defeated Coastal Carolina 3-0 in the opening game of the College World Series best-of-three championship series Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park.

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"What a special performance," Arizona coach Jay Johnson said. "That's an unbelievable offensive team that did not get very many good swings off him tonight."

Arizona (49-22) needs one more victory for its fifth national championship. The Wildcats last won the CWS title in 2012.

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Coastal Carolina must win Tuesday's Game 2 to stay alive and force a deciding Game 3 on Wednesday. The Chanticleers (53-18) have the most victories of any NCAA team.

A junior left-hander, Cloney pitched his second complete game of the season, and his first since March 24 against UCLA. He has pitched 16 shutout innings in the College World Series, with the other seven coming in a 3-0 win against UC Santa Barbara.

"All these coaches always have a good plan and our plan is to go out and execute it. They watch a ton of film," said Cloney, who coaxed 13 ground-ball outs. "I don't know what the splits are for me, but I think it's throwing the change-up down, keeping the fast ball down. I think the change-up is the reason there were so many ground balls. It felt good, so we used it a lot tonight."

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Cloney, who threw 122 pitches, had retired 11 batters in a row when Tyler Chadwick led off the eighth inning with a solid single for Coastal's second hit of the game. Coastal led off the ninth with two singles, but a double play turned the inning around.

"At the end of the day I have to tip my hat to that young man. He was a guy who was bigger than life today, and they played great defense behind him," Coastal coach Gary Gilmore said of Cloney. "He was moving the ball both sides of the plate, throw cutters, breaking balls, you name it. The first six innings, I don't think we hit a ball square."

Arizona played solid and sometimes spectacular defense, too.

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Left fielder Alfonso Rivas made a leaping grab at the top of the fence for the final out of the eighth inning, robbing shortstop Michael Paez of at least an extra-base hit, and maybe a home run, with a runner at first base.

"I thought I got enough of it, but knowing this field, you can't predict what will happen," Paez said.

Arizona padded a 1-0 lead with two runs in the seventh inning. Cesar Salazar led off with a sharp single and scored on Zach Gibbons' sacrifice fly, and Ryan Aguilar singled home Cody Ramer, who had walked, for a 3-0 lead.

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Right-hander Zach Hopeck pitched a career-high 6 1/3 innings and threw a career-high 103 pitches for Coastal Carolina.

"I thought I threw pretty well," Hopeck said. "I missed a few spots and they took advantage. I tried to do the best I could, give it all for my teammates."

Arizona scored a run in the first inning and held a 1-0 lead through five innings.

Ramer led off the game with a ground-rule double that bounced off the warning track and into the left-field bullpen. He went to third base on groundout by Gibbons and scored on a single by Aguilar.

The Wildcats threatened in the third inning but left the bases loaded. Ramer singled and Gibbons doubled to lead off the third. Jared Oliva walked with two outs, but Rivas grounded out to second base to end the inning.

Coastal Carolina managed only three base runners through the first five innings. Billy Cooke singled with one out in the third but was picked off and thrown out at second base. The other two base runners were the result of walks.

NOTES: Coastal Carolina LHP Zack Hopeck had five strikeouts through three innings, matching his season and career high, set most recently on May 17. ... Arizona entered the game with six straight elimination-game victories this postseason, including three straight wins since a loss to Oklahoma State in the second game of the CWS. ... Coastal Carolina is guaranteed its best finish in school history at an NCAA Championship. Its previous best finish was fifth in men's golf in 2007.

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