Arizona reaches College World Series finals
Wildcats await winner of Friday's South Carolina-Arkansas game
OMAHA -- Robert Refsnyder remembers the quiet flights home after Arizona's past two seasons ended.
He doesn't want to experience that depressing feeling again.
Refsnyder and the rest of the Wildcats are one step closer to avoiding that scenario, as the right fielder went 3-for-5 with a home run as Arizona beat No. 3 Florida State, 10-3, on Thursday at TD Ameritrade Park to advance to the College World Series finals.
"We were on a mission this year, myself and [right-hander Kurt Heyer] and the other juniors, to get to the College World Series because that's always been my goal and now we're in the position to win for a national title," said Refsnyder, the Yankees' fifth-round pick in this month's First-Year Player Draft. "It's exciting, but that's what we came here to do. "
Arizona (45-17) awaits the winner of No. 8 South Carolina (48-18) and Arkansas (46-21), who play at 8 p.m. CT on Friday. South Carolina beat Arkansas, 2-0, on Thursday night after eliminating Kent State with a 4-1 victory earlier in the day.
The finals begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Arizona advances to the finals for the seventh time in program history and first since 1986, the Wildcats' last NCAA title. Arizona also won in 1976 and 1980 and was runner-up in 1956, 1959 and 1963.
The Wildcats (8-0) are the only unbeaten team remaining in the NCAA tournament. They're also riding a nine-game winning streak and Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said he credits the run of success to a postgame talk on May 6 after a tough 3-1 loss to Oregon.
"I grabbed the group together and said, 'Hey, listen, if you want to win the [Pac-12], if you want to host the Regionals, if you want to do the things that we've set as goals, we can't lose another series from here on. End of story,' " Lopez said. "To be very candid with you, they've played exceptionally good baseball from that point on. And so far, so good. They'll continue the process, hopefully."
Refsnyder was one part of a potent offensive attack led by outfielder Bobby Brown, who reached base five times. Shortstop Alex Mejia (fourth round, Cardinals), third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean (eighth round, Reds) and center fielder Joey Rickard (ninth round, Rays) also had two hits.
"They were very difficult outs all day long," said Florida State head coach Mike Martin, whose team finishes 50-16. "They battled extremely well, offensively, and certainly made a couple of great plays on the defensive side."
Heyer (sixth round, Cardinals) worked 7 1/3 strong innings, holding the Seminoles to two runs while scattering nine hits.
"They did a good job putting the ball in play," Heyer said. "They're trying to get my pitch count up and they did."
Thursday started ugly for the Seminoles, as Sherman Johnson (14th round, Angels) led off the game getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
It got even worse in the bottom half of the inning. Florida State left-hander Brandon Leibrandt threw a potential double-play ball into center field and allowed a bases-loaded single to left by Joseph Maggi. Florida State left fielder Jose Brizuela bobbled the ball and committed a throwing error, bringing home two runs.
It was the first time a team committed three errors in an inning at the College World Series since Miami did so in the second inning in 2004.
"Sometimes you are the dog, sometimes you're the fire hydrant," Martin said. "It's just one of those situations."
Florida State shortstop Justin Gonzalez (27th round, Dodgers), first baseman Jayce Boyd (sixth round, Mets) and second baseman Devon Travis (13th round, Tigers) each drove in a run for the Seminoles. Gonzalez finished with three hits, while four players finished with two.
No. 8 South Carolina 4, Kent State 1
Arizona 10, No. 3 Florida State 3
No. 8 South Carolina 2, Arkansas 0
Arkansas (46-21) vs. No. 8 South Carolina (48-18), 8 p.m.