It took the Arizona baseball team four hours and 12 innings to beat Florida State in their opening game of the College World Series, and yesterday the Wildcats had to take on FSU one more time to get to the finals.
This time, they didn’t take any chances by letting the Seminoles hang around.
Arizona put together an offensive onslaught that buried FSU early, and then cruised to a 10-3 victory to earn a spot in Sunday’s first game of the CWS championship series.
The Wildcats put six runs on the board in the first inning and then built the lead to 10-1 in the fourth, thanks to a pair of home runs from Bobby Brown and Robert Refsnyder, who led the attack with three hits in the game.
The Arizona barrage was so overwhelming that Florida State used eight pitchers to try to contain the damage, which tied a CWS record for a single game. Brandon Leibrandt, the Seminoles’ starter, was on the mound for just one out before being lifted to start the parade of pitchers.
Arizona piled up 15 hits, as four different players collected two apiece.
“About the easiest way to sum it up is say we got taken to the woodshed today,” said FSU coach, Mike Martin, in assessing the damage after the game.
For Martin, it was complete frustration to have to leave the CWS one more time without a championship. The Seminoles have made the trip to Omaha 21 times and come up dry each time; Martin has been at the helm for 15 of those trips.
On the other side of the field, Arizona’s Kurt Heyer had things well in hand, working 7 1/3 innings before turning it over to Tyler Crawford, the freshman lefty from Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria. Heyer improved to 13-2 on the season, becoming the national leader in wins – and his 7 1/3 innings yesterday raised his total to 153, which also leads all other Division I pitchers.
The right-handed junior from California scattered nine hits and struck out three batters.
But before Heyer left the game, he had to bail out of a bad situation. He had bases loaded and no outs in the seventh.
When FSU’s All-American outfielder, James Ramsey, popped up down the third-base line, the Arizona fans breathed a little easier. The next batter flied out to deep center and then a pop-up to the catcher closed out the threat as the Seminoles picked up just one run at a time when they could have made a run.
Arizona remains undefeated in the post-season and has outscored its opponents 79-26. It will carry that momentum and confidence into Sunday’s match-up between the winner of tonight’s game between Arkansas and South Carolina, which has won the title the last two years.
It has been a long dry spell for the Arizona baseball program, with the last national title coming back in 1986. But this team is not only thirsty for that win – but they’ve got the talent to get it done.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)