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COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: FSU's championship curse continues

Florida State ace Brandon Leibrandt, the son of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt who was dominant in the Seminoles’ Super Regionals win two weeks ago, did a 180 on Thursday in FSU’s elimination game against Arizona in the College World Series. Leibrandt’s first-inning error on a sure-fire double play led to a six-run Wildcats outburst. In fact, Leibrandt didn’t even make it out of the inning and was pulled shortly after the costly mistake as FSU lost, 10-3, ending its season.

Florida State ace Brandon Leibrandt, the son of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt who was dominant in the Seminoles’ Super Regionals win two weeks ago, did a 180 on Thursday in FSU’s elimination game against Arizona in the College World Series. Leibrandt’s first-inning error on a sure-fire double play led to a six-run Wildcats outburst. In fact, Leibrandt didn’t even make it out of the inning and was pulled shortly after the costly mistake as FSU lost, 10-3, ending its season.

OMAHA, Neb. — Another Florida State season has ended in bitter, inexplicable disappointment at the College World Series.

Arizona converted three errors into a six-run first inning and advanced to the CWS final with a 10-3 win against the Seminoles on Thursday, continuing the title drought for one of the most dominant, talented programs in the country year in and year out.

“About the easiest way to sum it up is say we got taken to the woodshed,” FSU coach Mike Martin said.

The Seminoles (50-17) were making their 21st appearance in Omaha, and no other team in the history of NCAA baseball programs has played in the CWS as many times without winning a championship. Martin has been coach for 15 of those trips to Omaha.

He said the championship drought isn’t testing his patience.

“Not at all,” he said. “I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. It’s Christmastime. You get to come to Omaha, Nebraska, and experience the week of Christmas with great people. You’ll have memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

“No, I don’t feel like Job. I feel like King David, because I am on top of the world with people that will fight for you for 27 outs in a game.”

Center fielder James Ramsey, the St. Louis Cardinals’ first-round draft pick, said the Seminoles got the most out of themselves.

“There weren’t a whole lot of expectations, but inside the clubhouse, there were a lot of guys that fought for each other on and off the field,” Ramsey said. “I don’t regret anything. It’s been a great year. I feel extremely blessed for every opportunity. And I’m not really that upset the season’s over from that standpoint, knowing that guys who played with me fought to the very last out.”

Freshman starter Brandon Leibrandt, the son of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, was pulled after he recorded just one out for the Seminoles, who used eight pitchers to tie a CWS record for a nine-inning game. Leibrandt’s first-inning error on a routine double play left two men on and no out, leading to a six-run outburst by the Wildcats.

Arizona never looked back.

Robert Refsnyder and Bobby Brown homered in a span of three at-bats in the fourth as the Wildcats built their lead to 10-1.

Kurt Heyer (13-2) worked 7 1/3 innings while taking the national lead for wins in a season.

The Wildcats (46-17) won Bracket 1 and will open the best-of-three finals Sunday against either South Carolina or Arkansas. The two teams played an elimination game late Thursday that the Gamecocks won, 2-0, to force a do-or-die for each team today. South Carolina, the two-time defending nation champ, eliminated Kent State earlier in the day, 4-1, to advance to the title series, while the Razorbacks entered the game unbeaten in Bracket 2.

As for Arizona, it will be playing for its fourth national championship and first since 1986.

The Wildcats have won nine games in a row and are 56-0 when scoring nine or more runs since March 2010.

Leibrandt (8-3) was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings of the Seminoles’ 4-3, 12-inning loss to Arizona last Friday. On Thursday, he threw 31 pitches, only 15 strikes, and his throwing error was as costly as they come.

Leibrandt’s struggle marked the third time in this CWS that a starting pitcher lasted an inning or less. Florida’s Hudson Randall made it one inning against Kent State on Monday, and UCLA’s Zack Weiss was pulled after one-third of an inning against Florida State on Tuesday.

The last time so many CWS starters failed to get more than three outs was in 1995, when five got the early hook.

Arizona’s six runs in the first resulted from four singles, three walks, a sacrifice fly and the three errors. No team at the CWS had committed as many errors in an inning since Miami had the same number in a 2004 game against Cal State Fullerton.

FSU second baseman Justin Gonzalez, who committed two errors in FSU’s first loss to Arizona, said it was tough to swallow the way the season ended.

“Everyone was doing their part, and we were scratching until the very end. It just didn’t go our way (Friday),” he said.

SOUTH CAROLINA 2, ARKANSAS 0: “About the easiest way to sum it up is say we got taken to the woodshed,” FSU coach Mike Martin said.

The Seminoles (50-17) were making their 21st appearance in Omaha, and no other team in the history of NCAA baseball programs has played in the CWS as many times without winning a championship. Martin has been coach for 15 of those trips to Omaha.

He said the championship drought isn’t testing his patience.

“Not at all,” he said. “I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. It’s Christmastime. You get to come to Omaha, Nebraska, and experience the week of Christmas with great people. You’ll have memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

“No, I don’t feel like Job. I feel like King David, because I am on top of the world with people that will fight for you for 27 outs in a game.”

Center fielder James Ramsey, the St. Louis Cardinals’ first-round draft pick, said the Seminoles got the most out of themselves.

“There weren’t a whole lot of expectations, but inside the clubhouse, there were a lot of guys that fought for each other on and off the field,” Ramsey said. “I don’t regret anything. It’s been a great year. I feel extremely blessed for every opportunity. And I’m not really that upset the season’s over from that standpoint, knowing that guys who played with me fought to the very last out.”

Freshman starter Brandon Leibrandt, the son of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, was pulled after he recorded just one out for the Seminoles, who used eight pitchers to tie a CWS record for a nine-inning game. Leibrandt’s first-inning error on a routine double play left two men on and no out, leading to a six-run outburst by the Wildcats.

Arizona never looked back.

Robert Refsnyder and Bobby Brown homered in a span of three at-bats in the fourth as the Wildcats built their lead to 10-1.

Kurt Heyer (13-2) worked 7 1/3 innings while taking the national lead for wins in a season.

The Wildcats (46-17) won Bracket 1 and will open the best-of-three finals Sunday against either South Carolina or Arkansas. The two teams played an elimination game late Thursday that the Gamecocks won, 2-0, to force a do-or-die for each team today. South Carolina, the two-time defending nation champ, eliminated Kent State earlier in the day, 4-1, to advance to the title series, while the Razorbacks entered the game unbeaten in Bracket 2.

As for Arizona, it will be playing for its fourth national championship and first since 1986.

The Wildcats have won nine games in a row and are 56-0 when scoring nine or more runs since March 2010.

Leibrandt (8-3) was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings of the Seminoles’ 4-3, 12-inning loss to Arizona last Friday. On Thursday, he threw 31 pitches, only 15 strikes, and his throwing error was as costly as they come.

Leibrandt’s struggle marked the third time in this CWS that a starting pitcher lasted an inning or less. Florida’s Hudson Randall made it one inning against Kent State on Monday, and UCLA’s Zack Weiss was pulled after one-third of an inning against Florida State on Tuesday.

The last time so many CWS starters failed to get more than three outs was in 1995, when five got the early hook.

Arizona’s six runs in the first resulted from four singles, three walks, a sacrifice fly and the three errors. No team at the CWS had committed as many errors in an inning since Miami had the same number in a 2004 game against Cal State Fullerton.

FSU second baseman Justin Gonzalez, who committed two errors in FSU’s first loss to Arizona, said it was tough to swallow the way the season ended.

“Everyone was doing their part, and we were scratching until the very end. It just didn’t go our way (Friday),” he said.


South Carolina 2, Arkansas 0

OMAHA, Neb. — Freshmen Jordan Montgomery and Matt Price combined on a three-hitter Thursday night, lifting two-time defending national champion South Carolina to a 2-0 victory over Arkansas at the College World Series.

Michael Roth of the Gamecocks threw a two-hitter against Kent State earlier in the day to keep the Gamecocks’ hopes alive.

South Carolina (48-18) and Arkansas (46-21) will play again Friday night to decide which team goes to the best-of-three finals against Arizona starting Sunday.

“For the second time today we got an absolute wonderful game out of our lefty,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “Jordan followed up what Michael did earlier today and was outstanding. He’s had some good games for us this year. And this was the best one.”

Arkansas beat South Carolina 2-1 on Monday, snapping the Gamecocks’ record 22-game winning streak in the NCAA tournament.

The Gamecocks’ runs Thursday came in the second inning on Tanner English’s double and Chase Vergason’s single.

Montgomery (6-1) struck out six and walked one in his first outing since June 3.

“Definitely pitching in front of 20,000 people maybe, plus, had me a little nervous in the bullpen,” Montgomery said. “But after that first inning and I guess the way I settled in and the way the team was playing behind me, I was just kind of staying on cruise control and just went.”

South Carolina is the third team in the 63-year history of the CWS to win two full games in the same day. The last to do it was Holy Cross in 1952, when it beat Western Michigan and Penn State en route to the title. Tennessee won two in a day in 1951.

South Carolina pitchers faced 57 batters in Thursday’s two games — three over the minimum.

Roth came up big after Wednesday night’s elimination game against Kent State was postponed because of rain. Tanner decided to start Roth because the rainout gave the staff ace a fourth day of rest.

Montgomery, who had been the scheduled starter on Wednesday, was quite efficient when his turn came up against the Razorbacks. He threw 89 pitches, 52 for strikes, before giving way to Price to start the ninth. Price earned his 13th save.

“He got the ball inside. We hit a lot of balls in the middle of the bat. We weren’t driving the ball,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said of Montgomery. “And we hit some balls off the end of the bat on his changeup. He just did a tremendous job.”

Three of Arkansas’ four batters to reach base against Montgomery were erased. Joe Serrano was caught stealing in the first, Bo Bigham was thrown out at third in the fifth and Matt Vinson was doubled off first on a line drive to shortstop in the sixth.

Arkansas had handed Montgomery his only loss of the season last month. He was tagged for nine hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings that night.

Three singles, a walk and a hit batsmen were all the Hogs could muster against him Thursday.

Arkansas’ staff came into the game having allowed just two runs over its previous 32 1-3 innings.

Randall Fant (2-3) lasted only 1 1-3 innings, allowing four hits and getting charged for both runs. Brandon Moore pitched 5 2-3 innings of two-hit relief, but his effort went unrewarded because the Hogs couldn’t crack Montgomery.

Arkansas might have cost itself a run in the sixth when Bigham tried to go from first to third on Derrick Bleeker’s hit to left. English threw him out to end the inning.

South Carolina has allowed four runs or fewer in all eight of its NCAA tournament games this season.

The Gamecocks have allowed four runs or fewer in 18 consecutive CWS games since 2004.