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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Two big innings lift Wildcats past Florida State, into championship series

OMAHA, Neb. – They started fast and were relentless. Arizona baseball used a six run first inning and a four run fourth inning to cement their spot in the College World Series championship, defeating Florida State for a second time in this World Series, 10-3.

Arizona jumped out of the gates, with each of the first three batters reaching base on singles, including an RBI single from shortstop Alex Mejia, putting the Wildcats on top quickly, 1-0. With the bases loaded and none out, Seth Mejias-Brean’s sacrifice fly brought home left fielder Johnny Field, extending the Arizona lead to 2-0.

“They did not give us any room to breathe,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. It’s nothing that anybody can say but we got whipped.”

A Joe Maggi single into left center field scored Mejia from third, but two errors on Florida State left fielder Jose Brizuela, one fielding and one throwing, scored another run pushing the first inning lead to 4-0 and moving Maggi and Robert Refsnyder into scoring position with one out.

After Maggi’s single turned extra base play, Seminole starting pitcher Brandon Leibrandt was pulled. Leibrandt made it through just 1/3 of an inning, givine up three hits and six runs, two of which were earned. In his 31 total pitches, Leibrandt threw just 15 strikes, walking two.

Arizona wasn’t done scoring.

For the second time in the first inning, the Wildcats loaded the bases and a Trent Gilbert RBI single brought home Maggi and Refsnyder.

Arizona led 6-0 after a 45 minute first inning.

“They were extremely difficult outs all day long,” Martin said. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the game. Sometimes you’re the dog, and sometimes you’re the fire hydrant.”

The decision to pull Leibrandt was one of eight pitching changes Florida State used during the course of the game, tying a College World Series record.

Arizona pitcher Kurt Heyer was his usual “CEO, workhorse” self, Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. In the first three innings of play, Heyer had only thrown 40 pitches, 28 of which went for strikes. He also had forced six fly outs, two groundouts and had yet to allow a Florida State batter to reach third base.

“I got a great defense behind me,” Heyer said. “They (Florida State) did a good job of putting the ball in play.”

Heyer pitched into the seventh inning for the 18th time in 18 starts, tossing over 120 pitches for the second time in as many World Series starts. Heyer gave up nine hits and two earned runs, while striking out three and walking three.

Ever the perfectionist, Heyer critiqued himself as though his team had lost.

“The only thing I would probably take away from my performance is that I can’t walk three guys,” Heyer said. “ That’s unacceptable. That’s very uncharacteristic of me.”

An especially powerful fourth inning separated the gap even further between Florida State and Arizona. Two home runs, a solo shot by Refsnyder into the left field bullpen and a two run blast by designated hitter Bobby Brown into an active right field Seminole bullpen extended the lead even further, at 9-1.

“Funny thing is, I felt terrible in batting practice,” Refsnyder said. “I saw he was pitching me out, so I was kind of looking away and kind of reacted on a fastball in.”

In four innings, the Seminoles used five pitchers, three of whom entered and exited in the fourth inning alone.

Despite their offensive prowess, the Wildcats had their own share of hitting problems, most of which came with two outs in an inning. Five times the Wildcats loaded the bases, three times with two out, and were unable to score all three times. In the game, the Wildcats left 15 men on base.

“I’m not sure if we’re invincible,” coach Lopez said. “In fact, I’m quite confident that we’re not invincible. But we’re playing good baseball.”

The Wildcats are the only team still alive in World Series play that has yet to lose a game. The Wildcats are undefeated since a May 26 loss to Arizona State, and have won 16 of their last 18 starts, stretching back to a May 6 loss against Oregon.

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