Jun 15, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Arizona Wildcats infielder Alex Mejia (13) catches a ground ball to make the play at first base against the Florida State Seminoles during the second inning of game one of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE
Johnny Field struggled mightily much of Arizona's College World Series opener against Florida State. But when the Wildcats most needed his bat, the sophomore came through in a big way.
Field crushed a Robert Benincasa pitch into right-center field, driving in Joey Rickard from second base for the game-winning run in a 12-inning, 4-3 decision on Friday night.
Rickard dented the seemingly impenetrable armor of the Seminoles' All-American closer Benincasa with a double just before Field's game-winning at-bat.
FSU coach Mike Martin brought Benincasa on in the ninth. UA could not figure him out for most of his four innings pitched, but the Wildcats needed just that little bit of daylight to break through to their sixth straight postseason victory, and ninth of the last 10.
Seminole starter Brandon Leibrandt was replaced early, trailing 2-1. Martin cycled through four different relievers. His approach was a departure from that of counterpart and UA head coach Andy Lopez.
Kurt Heyer gave UA all it could ask for in a start: eight strikeouts, just one earned run, and 72/3 innings of work. His final pitch, No. 128 of the night, was an 87 MPH fastball to seat his eighth Seminole.
Heyer's sole earned run surrendered was a lined home run to Sherman Johnson.
The Wildcat ace did not earn a decision, but the bullpen preserved his effort with over four innings of scoreless baseball. Tyler Crawford went 12/3 Matthew Troupe struck out three en route to the win and the save.
One of Troupe's strikeouts came on a sweeping curveball that forced FSU star James Ramsey to chase out of the strike zone. Ramsey went 1-3 and drew a pair of walks.
Troupe's third punch-out shut the door on FSU with a full count, and the tying run at third base.
The Wildcats used some late inning defense to record key outs. Troupe picked off Seminole shortstop Justin Gonlazez at first base in the bottom of the 11th. In the 10th, catcher Riley Moore fired a perfect throw to catch Devon Travis stealing.
Infield play was crucial to both sides throughout the over four-hour contest.
FSU's two tying runs came in the sixth inning, after a throwing error from Seth Mejias-Brean that brought first baseman Brandon Dixon inches off the bag.
Likewise, UA plated a pair of runs after two different Gonzalez errors. The first came in the third inning, when Alex Mejia reached after Gonzalez overplayed a ground ball, charging hard from short.
On the ensuing at-bat, Robert Refsnyder snapped a line drive just past Leibrandt that buckled the pitcher's knees and reached the outfield. The shot drove in Rickard, who crossed the plate twice. Refsnyder went 2-6 with a pair of RBI.
UA advances to face Pac-12 rival UCLA, which blasted Omaha's Cinderella story Stony Brook 9-1 in Friday's matinee. The Bruins took two of three from the Wildcats at Hi Corbett during a mid-April series. Konner Wade, UA's likely starter for Sunday's contest, went just three innings and gave up 10 hits in a 15-3 loss on April 14.
Wade threw a gem his last outing, the Wildcats' Super Regional-sealing defeat of St. John's on June 9.