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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats take first game of World Series 4-3

OMAHA, Neb. – In a game Arizona led most of the way, the Wildcats baseball team opened up its 16th College World Series appearance with a 4-3 win over Florida State in 12 innings.

The game started slow for both teams, who both average over six runs per game. Arizona ace Kurt Heyer, who was going for his nation’s best 13th win, allowed six hits and three runs in 7 2/3 innings. Heyer struck out eight and walked three and was not a factor in the decision.

Heyer routinely found himself checking runners on the bases, as he was seemingly unable to fool Florida State’s batters as he has to so many others this season. Heyer gave up Arizona’s first walk in 22 innings in the third, following a solo home run by FSU leadoff man Sherman Johnson, his seventh career postseason homer, that put the Seminoles on the board.

The Wildcats replied with fifth inning that they should have scored more than one run in. Center fielder Joey Rickard started the inning off, reaching base via hit by pitch. Left fielder Johnny Field reached base by unsuccessfully trying to move Rickard to second, but was able to advance to third on a Mejia single.

Florida State freshman pitcher Brandon Leibrandt was pulled after the Mejia hit in favor of relief man Gage Smith. Leibrandt struck out five and gave up six hits in his World Series debut.

Arizona junior Robert Refsnyder singled up the right side, advancing Mejia to third on shortstop Justin Gonzalez’s second error of the game, coming on a bad throw trying to get Mejia out in a pickle situation. Field scored, and Seth Mejias-Brean came up to bat looking to extend the Arizona lead.

Mejias-Brean, however, grounded into a inning ending double play, stranding both Refsnyder and Mejia on the bases.

In the sixth, Florida State tied the game on a John Holland double that scored right fielder Josh Delph and Jayce Boyd, who leads the Seminoles with 28 multi-hit games this season, but was unable to extend that streak against Heyer.

Smith, who pitched 2 2/3 innings, gave up just one hit to Arizona. The one run they were able to score while he was on the mound was charged to Leibrandt.

In the eighth, Lopez finally called on his bullpen, after 128 Heyer pitches. Tyler Crawford, who has the second most relief appearances on the team, entered the game in the middle of the eighth and forced an inning ending ground out from Delph.

The ninth inning came with all the drama one would expect from two undefeated postseason teams going at it in the World Series. Catcher Riley Moore, who was three-for-four on the night started off the inning with a single. Florida State All-American closer Robert Benincasa entered the game for Scantling and retired both Joey Rickard and Johnny Field, who was 0-for-five on the night, giving the Seminoles a walk-off opportunity in the bottom of the ninth.

Crawford held his own however, forcing all three FSU batters in the bottom of the ninth out.

The Wildcats went quickly and quietly in the 10th, as Mejia, Refsnyder, and Seth Mejias-Brean all popped out, again bringing the Seminoles to the plate with a chance to walk off.

Crawford, who allowed a single to leadoff man Devon Travis to start the tenth, ended his night with a strike out of the Seminoles’ best batter, James Ramsey.

As the game crept into extra innings, Benincasa put on a showcase, retiring every Arizona batter – in a row – over the ninth, tenth, and 11th innings. Mathew Troupe, who replaced Crawford in the tenth frame was not as brilliant, giving up a single to Gonzalez that put the winning run on the board in the bottom of the 11th. Troupe did however, pick off Gonzalez at first and struck out Delph to push the gamei into the 12th.

Arizona finally got a bat on a ball in the 12th, as Rickard nailed a one-out double into center, and was then brought home by Johnny Field, who was 0-for-five at the plate before his double, putting Arizona up 4-3 in the 12th.

Troupe came back out in the bottom of the 12th, and retired three of the four batters he faced, ending the game.

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