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COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: FSU looks to avoid elimination today vs. Stony Brook; Arkansas wallops Cinderella Kent State; two-time defending champ S.C. drops No. 1 Florida

South Carolina closer Matt Price, center, high-fives pitcher Michael Roth (29) and Tyler Webb (38) following their 7-3 win against Florida in the College World Series on Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

South Carolina closer Matt Price, center, high-fives pitcher Michael Roth (29) and Tyler Webb (38) following their 7-3 win against Florida in the College World Series on Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

Want To Watch?

WHO: Florida State baseball team (48-16) vs. Stony Brook (52-14).

WHAT: College World Series elimination game.

WHEN: 5p.m. today.

WHERE: Omaha, Neb.

TV: ESPN2.

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida State lost another opener at the College World Series, and coach Mike Martin said no one deserved blame.

He gave all credit to Arizona, which won, 4-3, late Friday night on Johnny Field’s RBI double in the top of the 12th inning.

Joey Rickard doubled into the left-center gap for the Wildcats’ first hit off Florida State closer Robert Benincasa (4-2), who came on in the ninth. Field followed with his two-base hit to right, driving in Rickard.

The Seminoles have lost four CWS openers in a row since last winning one in 1999.

“It was just a game that they got back-to-back hits,” Martin said. “Benny turns around and gets us out of the inning. Got a one-run ballgame and we got a runner on third. Credit (Mathew) Troupe. He made a couple of good pitches. Unfortunately, that happens every night in our game.”

Troupe (5-1), the Wildcats’ freshman closer, worked the last 2 2-3 innings for the win, striking out Devon Travis to end it with a runner on third.

The Seminoles scored two unearned runs off Arizona starter Kurt Heyer to tie it 3-3 in the sixth but had only three more batters reach base until the 12th.

Arizona (44-17), which has won 14 of 16 games, now plays UCLA today in a meeting of Pac-12 co-champions. The Seminoles, meanwhile, (48-16) meet Stony Brook at 5 p.m. in an elimination game today.

The Seminoles scored a combined 35 runs on 24 hits in a two-game Super Regional against Stanford last week but found runs much harder to come by against Heyer and two relievers.

Only one of their three runs was earned. When they looked ready to threaten in extra innings, Arizona shut them down.

Travis was caught stealing after reaching base to start the 10th, and Justin Gonzalez — who committed two errors early in the game that led to Wildcats runs — was picked off first in the 11th after taking too big a lead off the bag.

FSU’s starter, freshman All-America left-hander Brandon Leibrandt, worked 4 1-3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits.

“Great one to win, tough one to lose,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “In a game like that — two good programs, two good starting pitchers competing like that — it’s a shame somebody has to go home a loser.”

The Seminoles tied it 3-3 in the sixth. Jayce Boyd reached when third baseman Seth Majias-Brean’s throw to first pulled Brandon Dixon off the bag. Heyer struck out Stephen McGee and Gonzalez, then walked Josh Delph before John Holland sent a drive into the left-center gap for a two-run double.

“Definitely a boost to get that hit and put us right back in the game. It was like the whole dugout was rejuvenated,” Holland said. “But like Coach was saying, you just have to tip your hat to them. It was a dogfight and we’re going to come back and be ready to go (today).”


CWS ROUNDUP:

OMAHA, Neb. — Arkansas’ DJ Baxendale bounced back from one of his worst starts of the year to turn in his best.

The junior right-hander held Kent State hitless into the fifth inning and combined with Brandon Moore on a four-hitter Saturday in the Razorbacks’ 8-1 victory that spoiled the Golden Flashes’ first appearance in the College World Series.

Baxendale’s performance was a lot different than his previous outing, when he was hit for five runs in four innings in an 8-1 loss to Baylor in the super regionals.

“Against Baylor, I really felt like I let the team down,” Baxendale said. “To come out here at this stage and be able to get us a victory in Game 1, it was huge for not only my confidence but I think for the team’s as well. We know any time you can win the first game, it just keeps building off that.”

Baxendale and Moore got some unexpected help from the bottom of the lineup. No. 9 batter Jake Wise homered for the first time since February and also hit a two-run single. No. 8 batter Matt Vinson hit a two-run double that gave Arkansas (45-20) a 5-1 lead in the sixth.

“My 3 and 4 holers didn’t get a hit today and we scored eight runs. Somebody got it going,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “That’s a good sign.”

Kent State (46-19), the first team from the Mid-American Conference to make it to the CWS since Eastern Michigan in 1976, couldn’t get much going against Baxendale.

Baxendale didn’t allow a hit until Sawyer Polen’s infield single with two out in the fifth. He held the Flashes scoreless until Jimmy Rider homered in the sixth.

“DJ Baxendale was outstanding,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “He kept us off balance. His fastball was sharp and he throws the breaking ball when he’s behind in the count. He really competes.”

Baxendale (8-5) allowed three hits, giving way to Moore with one out in the seventh. He struck out five and walked one. Moore pitched the last 2 2-3 innings for his third save.

Baxendale retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced before Polen ripped a hard grounder up the middle for a base hit. Second baseman Bo Bigham made a great stop, but his throw to first was wide and late.

“I knew after the first inning he had it because he threw every fastball right where he wanted it in the first inning, and that’s a telltale sign for him in watching him pitch for three years,” Van Horn said. “It’s been a big pleasure, and hopefully we’ll get him out there again before this is over with.”

Wearing their old-school gray uniforms with high socks, the Flashes struggled early against a Razorbacks team that was last in Omaha in 2009.

Kent State starter David Starn (11-4) walked three of the first four batters he faced and left after Vinson’s two-out double in the sixth.

Starn threw 24 pitches in the first inning, just eight for strikes, and walked the bases loaded before Brian Anderson’s hard liner up the middle knocked off the pitcher’s glove and brought home the first run. An inning-ending double play let Starn escape further damage.

“It was basically just a flaw in my mechanics,” Starn said. “I wasn’t really finishing my pitches. And I was leaving them arm-side, and that’s basically what happened with the control issues and everything.”

Wise made it 2-0 in the second when he went deep to left center for his second homer of the season, and first since the second game of the season on Feb. 19. It was the Razorbacks’ first homer since May 19, the last day of the regular season.

Wise came into the game 6 for his last 22 with seven strikeouts and with two home runs in 77 career games.

“When I hit it I thought it was a double,” Wise said. “The wind was blowing out a little bit and that helped it get out.”

Vinson was 4 for his last 26 with no RBIs and eight strikeouts before he delivered his two-run double in the sixth.

The Flashes will now try to stave off elimination playing in a bracket that includes two-time defending national champion South Carolina, No. 1 national seed Florida and an Arkansas team that just beat them. On Monday, Kent State next faces Florida, which lost to South Carolina late Saturday, 7-3.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re not just happy to be here,” Stricklin said. “We want to compete and get some wins and make a run at it. It’s still possible. We’re still here.”

SOUTH CAROLINA 7, FLORIDA 3: Michael Roth turned in another strong College World Series start, Erik Payne’s bases-loaded triple scored the go-ahead runs and South Carolina began the last leg of its pursuit of a third straight national title with a 7-3 win against Florida on Saturday night.

South Carolina (46-17) extended its record NCAA-tournament win streak to 22 games by beating its SEC rival and 2011 national runner-up for only the second time in five tries this season.

Roth (8-1), making his eighth appearance in three years in Omaha, left with one out in the seventh after Florida’s first two batters reached in a two-run game. Tyler Webb got the Gamecocks out of trouble, and Matt Price pitched the last two innings for his 12th save.

Payne’s triple off Brian Johnson (8-5) highlighted a fifth inning in which the Gamecocks turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead over the Gators (47-19).