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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball defeats Florida State in dramatic World Series action

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Amy Webb
Amy Webb / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball vs. NDSU in the opening weekend of the season and on Hi-Corbet Field.

OMAHA, Neb. – It was a nail biter, but Arizona pulled out a 4-3 victory in a four-hour, seven-minute battle with powerhouse Florida State in its first College World Series game since 2004.

In front of 22,391 fans, Arizona faced its first real test of the postseason in the Seminoles, who are the national No. 3 seed in the World Series.

The game wasn’t pretty, as the Wildcats, who average over seven runs per game were held to just four runs on 10 hits. Arizona was held to one hit through the first 2 1/3 innings and struck out three times.

In the third however, Arizona struck first with a pair of runs from Riley Moore and Joey Rickard, who were brought home by two Wildcat singles from Rickard and left fielder Robert Refsnyder.

The Seminoles answered in the bottom of the third with a solo shot from leadoff man Sherman Johnson, his fifth of the season and seventh career playoff homer. Johnson’s home run decreased the lead to 2-1 moving into the fourth.

“The main thing is there’s nobody to look at,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “I’m very proud of the fight that we showed.”

Florida State freshman starting pitcher Brandon Leibrandt struck out two in the bottom of the fourth, slowing the Wildcats momentum.

In the fifth frame, Arizona added another run off the bat of Refsnyder, his second RBI of the game. Leibrandt was pulled shortly after the run scored. Alex Mejia was attempting to advance from first to third on the Refsnyder single, but centerfielder James Ramsey launched the ball over his head to the waiting third baseman, Johnson.

A pickle ensued, and shortstop Justin Gonzalez committed his second error of the day, overthrowing second base, allowing Mejia to easily reach third. Leibrandt got out of the jam, however, when Seth Mejias-Brean grounded out to end the inning, stranding both Mejia and Refsnyder on the bags.

“We have a pretty deep lineup,” Arizona left fielder Johnny Field said. “We don’t have an easy out. We were all just competing to get on base.”

In the sixth, it was the Seminoles testing Arizona’s Kurt Heyer, who failed to record his 13th victory in a 7 2/3-inning no-decision performance. Heyer, who threw 128 pitches on the night, allowed freshman John Holland to smack a double into left-center field, tying the game up.

Over the next six innings, Florida State’s bullpen, including losing pitcher Robert Benincasa, did not allow an Arizona run, and until the 12th frame, Benincasa did not allow a Wildcat to reach base, retiring every batter he faced.

In the 12th however, with the pressure of the world on his shoulders and Benincasa throwing at him, Rickard got Arizona’s first hit off Benincasa, a double that almost reached the wall in center field. That double, accompanied with Field’s double a few pitches later, put the Wildcats on top for good 4-3.

Up next for Arizona is a familiar foe. UCLA, who defeated Stony Brook 9-1 in Friday’s first game, will play the Wildcats on Sunday night at 8 p.m.

“We know what they have,” Rickard said, speaking of the Bruins. “We’re not surprised to be playing them here.”

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