Arizona outlasts Florida State in 12 innings -
Published Friday, June 15, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 2:08 am
Arizona outlasts Florida State in 12 innings

Play of the game: Johnny Field, who hadn't hit a ball out of the infield in his first five trips to the plate, delivered the winning hit when he lashed a double into the right-center gap to score Joey Rickard, who had doubled with one out in the 12th.

Star of the game: Reliever Mathew Troupe pitched 2-2/3 shutout innings for the win. Troupe, a freshman, stranded the potential tying run at third base when he struck out Devon Travis to end the game.

Quirky moment: The Wildcats scored their third run on a perfectly placed single in the fifth inning. With two runners on, Robert Refsnyder lashed a single to the right of first baseman Jayce Boyd. Boyd got his glove on the ball, but it ricocheted off Travis, the second baseman, as he dived for the ball, scoring Field.

Defining moment: Travis opened the bottom of the 10th inning with a single, bringing first-round draft pick James Ramsey to the plate. After throwing two balls to Ramsey, Tyler Crawford came back to strike out the Seminoles' second-leading hitter. Troupe replaced Crawford and got out of the inning when Travis was caught stealing and Boyd grounded back to the mound.

Our take: Arizona has a reputation of winning with its offense, but a near-errorless defense and solid pitching carried the Wildcats. Arizona expected, and got, a big start out of Kurt Heyer, but freshmen Crawford and Troupe were outstanding in the pressure-packed closing innings.

They said it: “Arizona beat us. They did a good job, and there's no finger pointing by any of our players. Our guys fought like crazy. We just happened to come up short.” — Florida State coach Mike Martin

— Steven Pivovar

Photo Showcase: Arizona vs. Florida State
Box Score: Arizona 4, Florida State 3, 12 inn.

* * *

Arizona got to the College World Series by relying heavily on its talented junior class.

But it was a trio of young guns that helped the Wildcats post a 4-3, 12-inning victory over Florida State in their Omaha opener Friday night at TD Ameritrade Park.

Freshman relievers Tyler Crawford and Mathew Troupe pitched 4-1/3 shutout innings, and sophomore Johnny Field drove in the winning run with a double to move Arizona (44-17) into a Bracket One winners game Sunday against fellow Pac-12 member UCLA.

The Bruins, who flew to Omaha on the same charter flight as Arizona, won two of three games from the Wildcats during the regular season.

“They got us earlier in the year,” Arizona center fielder Joey Rickard said. “It doesn't surprise us that we're playing them here because they're a good team. We need to go out, slow the game down and play our baseball.”

Rickard scored the winning run when he and Field hit back-to-back doubles off Florida State relief ace Robert Benincasa (4-2). He pitched the final four innings and gave the Seminoles a chance when he got out of the 12th with a strikeout and a groundout that stranded two Wildcats.

Florida State (48-16) got the potential tying run to third base with two outs in its half of the 12th before Troupe struck out Devon Travis at 12:17 a.m. Saturday, bringing an end to a game that lasted four hours and seven minutes and drew a crowd of 22,391 fans.

In the postgame huddle, Florida State coach Mike Martin reminded his team that South Carolina lost its opening game at the 2010 CWS, then came back to win the national championship.

“He was just saying, ‘Why couldn't it be us?' ” said Florida State third baseman Sherman Johnson, who gave the Seminoles their first run with a third-inning homer. “I think it's the mindset everybody's going to take going forward.

“It's tough, but we'll forget about it. We'll be ready to go Sunday.”

Florida State will face an elimination game at 4 p.m. Sunday against Stony Brook, the pre-tournament darling that lost 9-1 to UCLA.

The Seminoles, down 3-1 after five innings, tied the game in the sixth on John Holland's two-run, two-out double off Arizona starter Kurt Heyer. Heyer, a senior right-hander, pitched into the eighth inning for the 12th straight game before giving way to his younger teammates.

Crawford got a key strikeout in the 10th after Travis had opened with a single. Crawford's first two pitches to first-round draft pick James Ramsey were balls, but he came back with three straight strikes to get the Seminoles' second-leading hitter.

Troupe replaced Crawford at that point and got out of the inning, as Travis was caught stealing and Jayce Boyd hit a grounder back to the mound.

Arizona coach Andy Lopez called Crawford's strikeout a key to the win.

“There's always someone on a club you say ‘I don't want that guy to beat us,' ” Lopez said, referring to Ramsey. “He's definitely that guy. They've got a good team, don't get me wrong. But he kind of carries himself a little different than most.”

Crawford and Troupe were tough in the clutch but so was Benincasa, the Seminoles' relief ace with 15 saves. He had not pitched more than 2-1/3 innings this season, but he retired the first 10 Arizona hitters he faced after entering the game following Riley Moore's single to lead off the ninth.

Rickard ended the dry spell when he doubled to left-center with one out in the 12th. Field, who had not hit a ball out of the infield in his first five plate appearances, then delivered his game-winning hit.

“Tonight I wasn't really seeing the ball too well and I had really bad at-bats early in the game,” Field said. “I was trying to do too much, chasing pitches that weren't in my zone.

“The last at-bat I made adjustments, went back to the drawing board and tried to look for a pitch to hit. He threw one over the plate and I was lucky enough to get my barrel on it.”

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Steven Pivovar    |   402-679-2298    |  

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series.

Friday, June 14
Opening Celebration

Saturday, June 15
Game 1: Mississippi State 5, Oregon State 4
Game 2: Indiana 2, Louisville 0

Sunday, June 16
Game 3: N.C. State 8, North Carolina 1
Game 4: UCLA 2, Louisiana State 1

Monday, June 17
Game 5: Oregon State 11, Louisville 4
Game 6: Mississippi State 5, Indiana 4

Tuesday, June 18
Game 7: North Carolina 4, LSU 2
Game 8: UCLA 2, N.C. State 1

Wednesday, June 19
Game 9: Oregon State 1, Indiana 0

Thursday, June 20
Game 10: North Carolina 7, N.C. State 0

Friday, June 21
Game 11: Mississippi State 4, Oregon State 1
Game 12: UCLA 4, North Carolina 1

Championship Series

Monday, June 24
Finals Game 1: UCLA 3, Mississippi State 1

Tuesday, June 25
Finals Game 2: UCLA 8, Mississippi State 0
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