Arizona outlasts Florida State in CWS opener
Wins by UCLA, Wildcats provide strong start for PAC-12
OMAHA -- Joey Rickard has set the table for the Arizona baseball team all season.
With his Wildcats searching for an offensive spark, the center fielder and leadoff hitter delivered.
Rickard -- the Rays' ninth-round pick in last week's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft -- hit a one-out double in the top of the 12th inning and scored on a double by left fielder Johnny Field to give the Wildcats a 4-3 win over No. 3 Florida State in the College World Series on Friday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
"I was just looking for something over the plate and [Florida State pitcher Robert Benincasa] came with a fastball. I think he just made a mistake with it and left it right down the middle," Field said. "I stayed back on it and put a good swing on it."
Rickard and Field's doubles capped a successful day for the Pac-12 Conference on the first day of the 66th College World Series.
No. 2 UCLA -- which shared the Pac-12 regular-season championship with Arizona -- defeated Stony Brook, 9-1, in Game 1 as UCLA center fielder and Reds' seventh-round pick Beau Amaral had two hits and right fielder and Reds' sandwich pick (57th overall) Jeff Gelalich drove in two runs.
UCLA (48-14) and Arizona (44-17) face each other in the winner's bracket at 8 p.m. CT on Sunday, while Stony Brook (52-14) and Florida State (48-16) play an elimination game at 4 p.m.
Both games will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN3.
The numerous zeroes on the TD Ameritrade Park scoreboard in Friday's nightcap were indicative of solid pitching by both teams.
Arizona right-hander Kurt Heyer, the Cardinals' sixth-round Draft pick, threw 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out eight.
Right-handed reliever Tyler Crawford followed with 1 2/3 scoreless frames before winning pitcher Matthew Troupe allowed only one hit in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
"They did a marvelous job tonight," Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. "We do not win tonight without Crawford and Troupe doing what they did."
Benincasa, the Nationals' seventh-round pick, suffered the loss but allowed only the two doubles in four innings of relief. Hunter Scantling, the Tigers' 14th-round Draft pick, also pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Florida State.
Wildcats right fielder Robert Refsynder, the Yankees' fifth-round Draft pick, went 2-for-6 with two RBIs to lead the Arizona offense, while shortstop Alex Mejia (fourth round, Cardinals) also had two hits.
Aside from a solo home run by Seminoles leadoff hitter Sherman Johnson (14th round, Angels) in the third inning, Florida State's other two runs came on a two-run, game-tying double by John Holland in the sixth.
The marathon nightcap -- which lasted four hours and seven minutes -- ended a day that began with No. 2 seed UCLA scoring five first-inning runs against fan-favorite Stony Brook. Seawolves starter Tyler Johnson allowed the first five Bruins -- who were each drafted -- to reach base.
Amaral and catcher Tyler Heineman (eighth round, Astros) singled before left fielder Cody Keefer (15th round, Marlins) drew a walk. Gelalich then lined a two-run double to right for the game's first runs.
First baseman Trevor Brown (10th round, Giants) also had an RBI single, while shortstop Pat Valaika drove in a run on a groundout and first baseman Kevin Kramer plated Brown with a single.
"It's a big deal getting ahead early in the game -- it kind of calms things down, especially here in Omaha with the crowd," Amaral said. "We knew everybody's going to be rooting for these guys and being able to take the crowd out of it early is a pretty big deal."
Johnson threw 40 first-inning pitches and was lifted with one out in the third inning after hitting a batter and issuing a walk. He allowed a season-high seven runs on five hits and four walks, throwing only 34 of his 69 pitches for strikes.
"The fact of the matter is I just wasn't on today," said Johnson, Oakland's 33rd-round pick. "I thought I hit a few spots every once and a while down there, but even when I did, I would throw the ball a couple more inches outside."
UCLA's big first inning provided more than enough cushion for Bruins sophomore right-hander Adam Plutko, who allowed only one run -- a third-inning homer by Patrick Cantwell, an 11th-round pick by the Rangers -- on five hits in seven innings while striking out seven.
Friday's performance was Plutko's fourth career postseason win in as many starts, tying him with D-backs prospect Trevor Bauer for the most NCAA Tournament wins in UCLA history. Plutko now is 4-0 with an 0.88 ERA in his tournament career.
"It was a typical Bruin win, really. Nothing fancy," UCLA head coach John Savage said. "It's the first game of our bracket so there's nothing to celebrate, nothing to get too overly excited about, other than we know we're playing the night game on Sunday."
UCLA 9, Stony Brook 1
Arizona 4, Florida State 3
Kent State vs. Arkansas, 5 p.m. ET
South Carolina vs. Florida, 9 p.m. ET