By Joe Foreman
OMAHA, Neb. — Florida State dug itself into a hole too deep to crawl out of Thursday at the NCAA College World Series.
FSU surrendered six runs in the first inning, thanks in part to three errors, and never recovered as the Seminoles saw their season come to an end with a 10-3 loss to Arizona at TD Ameritrade Park.
"About the easiest way to sum it up is to say we got taken to the woodshed today," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "was just a tremendous job by U of A, the way they played the game. They were very difficult outs all day long. They battled extremely well offensively. They made a couple of great plays on the defensive side. It's one of those situations that you just tip your hat to the other club. There's nothing that anybody can say — we got whipped.
"It was obviously disappointing, but it's the game. Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes you're the fire hydrant."
Seminole starting pitcher Brandon Leibrandt lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up three hits, a walk and six runs. His throwing error (wide of shortstop Justin Gonzalez), on a potential 1-6-3 double play, ignited the Wildcats' six-run first. Leibrandt's error came on a bouncing grounder off the bat of Johnny Field, Arizona's second batter of the game. The Wildcats would end up sending 10 batters to the plate in the inning. Seminole leftfielder Jose Brizuela committed two errors in the frame, one fielding and one throwing, on a single by Joseph Maggi.
The rough start was too much for FSU to overcome, but Gonzalez said the Seminoles didn't give up and never counted themselves out of the game.
"We definitely weren't defeated (in the dugout)," Gonzalez said. "We've been in situations like that all year. I can remember one off the top of my head — second game at Georgia Tech. We were down five, seven runs, something like that, and we came back, fought, pitching, defense — we were in there and ended up winning the game. So the way the coaches, the way they run the program, is we're going to fight you for 27 (outs). Until the last out's made, you're going to feel us."
The Seminoles plated their first run in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI double by Gonzalez, but the Wildcats answered with four more of their own in the bottom on the frame with the aid of home runs by Robert Refsnyder and Bobby Brown.
The Seminoles end their season with a 50-17 record. Arizona improves to 46-17 and advances to the CWS Championship Series against Arkansas or South Carolina, which begins Sunday night.
Martin and his players said they're disappointed about leaving Omaha without a championship, but proud of what's been accomplished in 2012.
"I hate to sound cliché, but I personally feel like one of the luckiest guys in college athletics to have had the opportunity to play with 26 other guys in the dugout that just went about their business in the right way," senior center fielder James Ramsey said. "There weren't a lot of expectations (for this team), but inside the clubhouse, there were a lot of guys that fought for each other, on and off the field. I'm not really that upset the season is over from that standpoint of knowing that the guys I played with, we fought to the very last out."
Gonzalez said he's appreciative of the leadership Ramsey and the other seniors on the team have provided. Martin said the players he's losing have been leaders through example and demonstrated to underclassmen what it takes to compete on a national level.
"Our goal right now is try to get back out here in 2013," Martin said.
In Thursday's 10-3 loss to Arizona, the Seminoles became only the third team in CWS history to use eight pitchers in a nine-inning game, joining North Carolina (2007) and Arkansas (2009). ... Arizona has won 6-of-7 College World Series meetings with Florida State. ... FSU is 28-42 all-time in CWS play and 20-30 under Mike Martin. ... A team from the Atlantic Coast Conference hasn't won the national championship at the College World Series since 1955 (Wake Forest). ... With two walks in Thursday's game, FSU's Sherman Johnson has 69 walks for the season. He's tied for the national lead with Tanner Waite of New Mexico State.