Joint Chiefs chair visits CWS for 'America's game'
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came to Omaha on business and sneaked in some pleasure at TD Ameritrade Park on Monday night.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey likes his baseball, and he said it was his good fortune that the College World Series was going on at the same time he had a visit scheduled to the U.S. Strategic Command south of Omaha. He was accompanied by his wife, Deanie.
"This is America's game. This is college sports,'' Dempsey said. "I'm a bigger fan of college sports than pro sports.''
Dempsey threw out the first pitch at the Yankees-Nationals game in Washington on June 15 and said he tries to catch as many games as he can. He grew up near New York City and said he's a lifelong Yankees fan.
Dempsey spoke with coaches Andy Lopez of Arizona and Ray Tanner of South Carolina before Game 2 of the CWS finals.
"They both are aware of the fact they can play this game because men and women the same age as their own team, the same age as the kids playing baseball, are out there right about now walking out of operating bases in Afghanistan or flying off a tarmac in Qatar or steaming away from home port in Norfolk to do the nation's bidding.
"They thank me for their service, but I thank them for thanking the service men and women they come across.''
Demspey noted that that both CWS finalists come from "military-friendly'' parts of the country. Fort Huachuca is near Tucson, Ariz., and Fort Jackson is in Columbia, S.C.
"Both organizations embrace service men and women,'' Dempsey said, "so I have a lot of time for both of them.''
Dempsey played college lacrosse at Army, but only dabbled in baseball as a youngster.
"The curveball kind of freaked me out and I used to bail out too aggressively,'' he said, "so I never caught on as a baseball player. But I do love the game.''
LET'S DO IT AGAIN: If Arizona right fielder Robert Refsnyder homers in one game, there's a decent chance he'll homer again in the next one.
Refsnyder went deep in back-to-back games for the third time this season when he homered against South Carolina on Sunday. He also hit a homer in his previous game, against Florida State.
Refsnyder also homered in consecutive games against Stanford in March and against California in May.
The long ball in Game 1 of the CWS finals got Arizona out to an early 2-0 lead.
"I was fortunate enough to run into it,'' Refsnyder said. "Sometimes when you close your eyes and swing really hard, good things happen.''
MARVELOUS MEJIA: Arizona shortstop Alex Mejia has turned in splendid defensive performances throughout the College World Series. No play was bigger than the double play he started in the first inning of Game 1.
South Carolina's Joey Pankake reached on an error to start the game. Evan Marzilli sent a hard grounder up the middle that Mejia stopped with a diving nab. Mejia backhanded a flip to second baseman Trent Gilbert, whose throw to first beat Marzilli.
Konner Wade went on to pitch a complete game in the 5-1 win. Mejia downplayed the importance of the play.
"It takes them out of a big inning,'' Mejia said. "But the way he pitches and the way he's been pitching, I feel safe in allowing those two runners to get on because he's done such a tremendous job. I don't think that play would have mattered too much, because he's just spot on.''
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