Arizona's Heyer will start rematch with Seminoles
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - It will be Round 2 between Florida State and Arizona at the College World Series on Thursday, with both teams starting the same pitchers as when they met in the opening round.
An Arizona win would send the Wildcats to the championship round. An FSU victory would force another game Friday, with the winner going to the best-of-three finals.
"We've got the advantage of being 2-0 and having the luxury of maybe losing a game,'' Arizona right fielder Robert Refsnyder said Wednesday. "On the other end of the spectrum, if Florida State loses, they go home, so they're going to be playing with their hair on fire.''
The Wildcats will send junior ace Kurt Heyer (12-2) to the mound against freshman left-hander Brandon Leibrandt (8-2), the Seminoles' No. 1 pitcher.
Heyer worked the first 7 2-3 innings and got a no decision in Arizona's 4-3 win over FSU in 12 innings last Friday. Leibrandt made it just 4 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since March 17.
"Coming out of the game in the fifth inning the other night, you want to get a second crack at them,'' Leibrandt said. "My teammates told me that game wasn't going to be my last start. I believed them, and here we are. I get to go again, and I couldn't be happier.''
The Seminoles bounced back from the first-round loss with impressive wins over Stony Brook and UCLA. The Wildcats followed their win over FSU with Konner Wade's 4-0 shutout against UCLA on Sunday.
FSU, which has taken the most walks of any team in the nation, worked UCLA pitchers for eight on Tuesday. The Seminoles' patience at the plate and ability to elevate the opponent's pitch count have forced Arizona coach Andy Lopez to call on the strong-armed Heyer again rather than take his chances with No. 3 starter James Farris.
Though freshmen Tyler Crawford and Mathew Troupe combined for 4 1-3 shutout innings of relief on Friday, it's apparent that Lopez doesn't want to entrust the Wildcats' fate to his bullpen. Heyer has thrown seven complete games and leads the nation with 145 2-3 innings.
"You are who you are at this time of the season,'' Lopez said. "Our bullpen has been questionable at times. It's young, it's inexperienced. They did a marvelous job on Friday night, and I hope they continue to do that.
"If the pitch count is up, obviously I'm not going to blow up Kurt Heyer, and that means we'll have to go into our bullpen.''
SITZ'S `STACHE: Florida State pitcher Scott Sitz looks like he stepped out of a highlight film from the 1970s with his trademark mustache.
Seminoles closer Robert Benincasa issued a challenge to Sitz in April, telling him that he doubted Sitz could grow a mustache and keep it until Cinco de Mayo.
"So I had to prove him wrong,'' Sitz said. "Cinco de Mayo passed and I never got rid of it.''
Fans in the bleachers yelled at Sitz about the mustache during warm-ups before Tuesday's game against UCLA.
"They all told me how much they loved it,'' he said.
Turns out the mustache is growing on him, and he has no plans to shave it.
"My girlfriend isn't too happy people know me for my mustache,'' he said, "because she really doesn't like it.''
RAZORBACKS VISIT HOSPITAL: Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn loaded his players on the team bus Wednesday for a visit to Children's Hospital in Omaha.
Players broke up into several groups and spent time with patients. They autographed baseballs and handed out signed team photos.
"There are a lot of kids in here fighting hard for their life and they're tough kids,'' pitcher DJ Baxendale said. "Getting the chance to come in and interact with them is really special for us.''
SHORT HOPS: South Carolina entered Wednesday having played a school-record 27 one-run games this year (14-13). ... The Gamecocks' Matt Price has a 0.47 career ERA in the NCAA tournament, with 49 strikeouts in 38 innings. ... Kent State has won 23 of its past 25 games. Five of the Golden Flashes' previous six games have been decided by one run, with Kent State winning four of them. ... Arizona has won 15 of its last 17 games. The Wildcats have hit .321 over the last 17 games and outscored opponents 38-11 in two-out RBIs. ... Arizona coach Andy Lopez earned his 400th coaching win with the Wildcats in Sunday's 4-0 victory over UCLA.