UA baseball beats Seminoles in CWS opener; UCLA next

UCLA stomped on Cinderella and now the Bruins are looking to kick the Arizona Wildcats baseball team to the curb in Omaha.

The Bruins beat Stoney Brook, the ‘Cinderella’ of the College World Series, in a 9-1 embarrassment in the opening game, while Arizona had to go 12 innings before overcoming Florida State for a 4-3 victory Friday.

Stoney Brook was the darling underdog of the tournament.  The Long Island team, which has run up a gaudy 52-14 record, is making its first-ever appearance in the CWS and has become just the second No. 4 regional seed to make it to the World Series.

Now the match-up that seemed inevitable has arrived.  The two Pac-12 teams each settled for a share of the conference crown with identical 20-10 records and then each team rolled undefeated through the Regional Tournament and the Super Regionals.

They will meet again tonight for the most important game of their season.  The other meeting was back in mid-April when the Bruins won a three-game series played in Tucson.  The Cats won the first game, a narrow 4-3 decision, but UCLA came back to outscore their hosts 21-5 over the next two games.

Arizona is coming into the encounter with UCLA after a draining extra-innings game with the Seminoles.

While the Bruins cruised past Stoney Brook, Arizona struggled through a game that lasted a little more than four hours before Johnny Field smacked a double in the top of the 12th to bring home Joey Rickard, who had also doubled to get in scoring position, and break the 3-3 tie that had deadlocked the game since the sixth inning.

Up until now, the Cats haven’t needed much help from the bullpen during their post-season run.  But it took two relief pitchers to wrap this one up.

Kurt Heyer made his 54th career start to move him into sole possession of third place on the all-time UofA list.  He posted eight strikeouts before being lifted by coach Andy Lopez with two outs in the eighth.  Tyler Crawford worked until the 10th inning, when Mathew Troupe came in for the final two outs of that inning and went on to record the win in relief.

The 7.2 innings that Heyer worked against the Seminoles marked the 12th consecutive game in which he has thrown at least that many innings.

Riley Moore, the freshman catcher from California, got his first World Series hit with a single in the third, and then went on to finish the night with three hits – the fifth time this season he has had three or more hits in a game.

Now Arizona (44-17) moves from the No. 3 national-seed Florida State to the No. 2 seed UCLA.  The road to the title game doesn’t get any easier.

And the Bruins (47-17) are playing with a chip on their collective shoulder; they’re on a mission.  They lost to the two-time defending national champion, South Carolina, in the 2010 championship game, and want another shot at claiming their first national title.

But Arizona, which has won 14 of its last 16 games, is standing smack-dab in the middle of the base path that leads to that game.  And the Cats are hungry, too.  Their last national title was 26 years ago.

The collision takes place tonight at 6 and will be televised to the nation on ESPN2.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)