June 16, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. – Arizona’s Johnny Field’s RBI double in the top of the 12th snapped a 3-3 deadlock as the Wildcats (44-17) squeezed out a 4-3 win over Florida State (48-16) in the second game of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Robert Benincasa tossed a season-long four innings and struck out five for the Seminoles, but the only two hits he allowed produced the go-ahead run for the Wildcats.
“It’s a credit to them, we made some good pitches,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “It was one of those situations that there is no one to blame. It was a good game of baseball, just the team that I wanted to win didn’t.”
Devon Travis and Justin Gonzalez each delivered two hits for FSU and freshman John Holland added a game-tying, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth. Sherman Johnson added his fifth home run of the season and seventh career postseason homer as FSU finished with eight hits.
“It was definitely a big boost for John to get that hit and it put us right back in the game,” said Johnson. “It was the old dugout was rejuvenated. As coach was saying, you just have to tip your hat to them. It was a dog fight tonight, we are going to come back and be ready to go Sunday.”
Three Arizona pitchers combined to strike out 12 Seminoles led by ace Kurt Heyer. Heyer pitched into the eighth inning and finished the night tossing 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, one earned, on six hits. He struck out eight and walked three in factoring into the no-decision. Matthew Troupe pitched the final 2 2/3 innings and struck out three to pick up his fifth win of the season.
“There is nobody to look at, to point fingers at; I was very proud of the fight that we showed,” said Martin. “It was just a game that they got back-to-back hits. Benny turns around and gets us out of the inning. Got a one-run ballgame, we got a runner at third. Credit Troupe, he made a couple of good pitches. It was just a good baseball game, you tip your hat to the other club.”
Riley Moore went 3-for-5 for the Wildcats. Joey Rickard, Alex Mejia and Robert Refsnyder each added a pair of hits for Arizona, which ended up out-hitting FSU, 10-8.
Benincasa delivered a strong outing out of the bullpen. He entered the game in the top of the ninth with no one out and the lead-off man on base. He pitched the Seminoles out of the jam ending the inning with a strikeout and a ground out. Benincasa then rattled off six consecutive outs with a four-pitch 10th inning followed by striking out the side in the 11th.
“He (Benincasa) was at 40 pitches when I got to thinking that this is definitely going to be it for him this inning,” added Martin. “We definitely could not have extended him anymore. Benny has just been a work horse and has given a tremendous lift to our baseball team all season long.”
FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt pitched well in his first career start in the CWS, but didn’t factor into the decision. Leibrandt struck out five in 4.1 innings. He allowed three runs, two earned on six hits and didn’t walk a batter for the third time this season in 18 starts. Gage Smith kept the Wildcats at bay tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Hunter Scantling relieved Smith and also threw one scoreless inning.
Back-to-back doubles by Rickard and Field snapped the deadlock tie in the top of 12th. Rickard doubled to left center with one out. Field then found the gap in right center to bring in Rickard for the go-ahead run. The Seminoles looked to extend things in the bottom of the 12th after Seth Miller was hit-by-pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch with one out. Troupe got Johnson to ground out and Travis to strike out with Miller on third to end the game.
The Seminoles looked to be poised for a walk-off win in the 10th. After Benincasa worked that four-pitch top half of the frame, Devon Travis led off the bottom half with a single. But Wildcat pitcher Tyler Crawford recorded a strikeout and Travis was caught stealing for back-to-back outs. Jayce Boyd grounded out to end the threat.
FSU rallied in the bottom of the sixth for a 3-3 tie. Holland drove a pitch on a 0-2 count into the gap in left center to score Boyd and Josh Delph. Boyd reached on an error to lead off the sixth and Delph drew a two-out walk putting runners in scoring position.
“I got down 0-2 but was able to see his breaking ball and fastball, so I definitely knew what he had and what he was going to try and throw,” said Holland. “He left a pitch over the plate and I was able to get a barrel on it.”
Arizona jumped out to a 1-0 lead in top of the third on an RBI single by Rickard which scored Moore, who singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Trent Gilbert. Rickard came home on a Refsnyder single to center field to make it, 2-0.
Johnson’s home run into the visiting bullpen in right field led off the bottom of the third for the Seminoles and cut the Wildcats’ lead in half, 2-1.
FSU threatened in the bottom of the fourth looking to tie things up. Delph ripped a one-out double into the gap in right center for his eighth hit of the postseason, but Heyer regrouped to record the next two outs – getting Holland to ground out and Jose Brizuela to fly out in foul territory.
Arizona’s third run came in the top of the fifth when Refsnyder picked up his second RBI single to score Field this time around to go ahead, 3-1. Field reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on Mejia’s single up the middle.
Florida State will now play Stony Brook in an elimination game on Sunday, June 17 at 5 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2. The Seminoles will be the visiting team against the Seawolves.