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Arizona beats FSU 10-3, will play for national championship

Johnny Field

Johnny Field (No. 1) is congratulated by teammates after scoring as part of Arizona's six-run first inning. Photo by Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE

Florida State adds a run in the ninth but it’s far from enough as the Wildcats win 10-3. Arizona will play the winner of Arkansas-South Carolina Sunday at 5 p.m. Tucson time in the first game of the best-of-three national championship series.

Arizona’s pitching staff in the CWS has given up only 6 runs, all to Florida State, in three games while the offense has scored 18 runs.

. . .

Arizona used the same formula Thursday as it has through the entire postseason: Relentless hitting, great starting pitching and superb defense.

For momentum’s sake, how big was Johnny Field’s throw from left field to catch Sherman Johnson trying to stretch a single into a double to lead off the game? Even through replays showed Johnson was safe, Field’s throw made it close enough to get the call.

And then Arizona scored six runs in the bottom of the inning.

UA is trying for its fourth title at the College World Series, winning it all in 1976, 1980 and 1986.

Check back later for postgame thoughts, pictures and quotes …

* * *

This is just the third time this season that a team has reached double-digit runs vs. Florida State.

* * *

Going to the sixth, Arizona up 10-1. Does Andy Lopez try to preserve some innings on Kurt Heyer’s arm, looking ahead to a Monday game or a Tuesday game? Does he trust his bullpen to hold the fort for a few innings?

How cool would it be if he gave his son, reliever Michael Lopez, a chance to pitch? Michael threw one inning in the regular season.

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* * *

Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean lays out on a bouncer in the hole and throws out the Jayce Boyd to the end the top of the fifth, saving at least one run in the process. Florida State got the first two batters on, and had a runner on third when Mejias-Brean shut the door. Not much gets past the left side of Arizona’s infield.

* * *

Joey Rickard greets FSU’s fifth pitcher, Gage Smith, with an RBI single to left to push Arizona’s lead to 10-1 in the bottom of the fourth.

The Cats end up with four runs in the fourth, leaving the bases loaded for the second time in the game.

* * *

And another one is going, going, gone. Bobby Brown hits Arizona’s second home run of the fourth inning, this one with a runner on, to give the Cats a 9-1 lead and forcing Florida State to go to the pen for the second time.

The Cats are absolutely rolling as the ‘Noles bring in freshman lefty Kyle Bird.

* * *

What!? A home run? Robert Refsnyder takes a pitch that is diving down and in and drives it well over the fence in left field. It’s his seventh of the season, and it gives UA a 7-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

* * *
Florida State gets on the board in the top of the fourth. Jayce Boyd started the inning with a single, and he came all the way around on a one-out double to the wall by Justin Gonzalez. That makes the score 6-1 and ends Arizona’ streak of 18 1/3 scoreless innings at the College World Series.

That all that Kurt Heyer allows, though.

* * *

Arizona keeps grinding away at the Florida State pitching staff, but thee Cats leave the bases loaded in the bottom of the second when Joseph Maggi flies out to left on a 3-2 pitch. Two FSU pitches have combined to throw 77 pitches in two innings.

* * *

The first inning is over. Arizona is well on its way, taking a 6-0 lead, capped by a two-out, two-run single from second baseman Trent Gilbert off relief pitcher Luke Weaver.

* * *

And Arizona leads. After the hit and the error, shortstop Alex Mejia takes a hack at an outside pitch and bloops it into right field for an RBI single.

Continuing the theme …

Robert Refsnyder walks to load the bases, and Seth Mejias-Brean hits a ball to medium center field that is good for a sacrifice as Johnny Field scores without a play.

A double steal and then a walk to Bobby Brown from the slow-working Brandon Leibrandt reloads the bases for Joseph Maggi, who gets a single past shortstop Justin Gonzalez for an RBI. When left fielder Jose Brizuela fails to field the ball cleanly, Refsnyder scores, too, as he beast the throw homes

The ball gets past the catcher for the third error of the inning, as the runners advance to second to third.

And that is it for Leibrandt, who throws 31 pitches.

* * *

Joey Rickard, Arizona’s leading hitter in the postseason, coming in with a .429 batting average (12 of 28), leads off the game with a single.

Johnny Field follows by hitting a potential double-play ball back to starter Brandon Leibrandt, who throws just a bit outside to second base. As the ball zooms into centerfield, Rickard races to third.

More defensive problems for FSU, which had two errors vs. Arizona last week.

The quality of defensive throws in the first inning is already huge.

* * *

How’s that for a good start? Sherman Johnson leads of the game by lacing an opposite-field hit to left, but left fielder Johnny Field comes up throwing, firing the ball to second baseman Trent Gilbert. Johnson goes in head-first to second, trying to stretch it into a double, but he is called out.

Replays showed he got his hands on the bag before the tag.

Arizona will take it. Threat averted. Kurt Heyer needs only 13 pitches to get through the first inning.

* * *


* * *

The Arizona Wildcats try to clinch a berth in the championship series of the College World Series with a win today over Florida State.

It will be a pitching rematch of last Friday’s meeting in the first round of the Series, with Arizona’s Kurt Heyer (12-2, 2.22 ERA) opposing Seminoles’ freshman left-hander Brandon Leibrandt (8-2, 2.65).

Neither factored in the decision as the Cats won 4-3 in 12 innings.

If Arizona wins, it moves on to Sunday’s first game of the best-of-three championship series against either Arkansas or South Carolina. If FSU wins, these teams will play again Friday in an elimination game.

Coach Andy Lopez is putting out his usual lineup for Arizona, which is the home team today:

1. CF Joey Rickard
2. LF Johnny Field
3. SS Alex Mejia
4. RF Robert Refsnyder
5. 3B Seth Mejias-Brean
6. DH Bobby Brown
7. 1B Joseph Maggi
8. C Riley Moore
9. 2B Trent Gilbert

Arizona undergraduate assistant Josh Garcia waits in the dugout for the start of the game against Florida State at TD Ameritrade Park. Photo by Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

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