By Christopher Yale Smith
For The Crier
In their opening-round game in the College World Series against the Arizona Wildcats [44-17], the Florida State Seminoles [49-16] suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in 12 innings, and two local kids were right in the thick of it.
FSU Freshman Brandon Leibrandt [Marist School] was the starting pitcher, and senior team captain James Ramsey [Wesleyan School] anchored centerfield.
Known for having good control of his pitches and able to place pitches on both sides of the plate, Leibrandt struck out two Arizona batters in the first two innings, but Arizona batters figured out some of his pitches in the third inning.
In the third inning with one out and a runner on second base, an Arizona batter hit a single to right centerfield to score a teammate from second base. It was the first run of the game and the second hit Leibrandt surrendered in the inning. With two outs, Arizona had runners on first and second bases because of an error by the FSU shortstop. Robert Refsynder, the Wildcats cleanup-hitter, hit a single up the middle, which drove in another run. In the bottom of the third, the Seminoles Sherman Johnson hit a homerun over the right-field wall to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 2-1.
Moving into the fourth inning, Leibrandt still had good control of his pitches. He started the inning by striking out Arizona’s Bobby Brown for the second time in the game, and he ended the inning with a strikeout, which was his fifth strikeout of the game.
“He has had great poise, and he has made some very good pitches,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin, when interviewed by ESPN in between the fourth and fifth innings. “Arizona is a tough lineup, but Brandon has shown he can pitch in any environment.”
In the fifth inning with one out and runners on first and third bases, Martin utilized to the bullpen. In 4 1/3 innings, Leibrandt threw 84 pitches, surrendered six hits, one earned run, no walks, and struck out five.
Because of another error by the FSU shortstop on a run-down play, Arizona scored a run, which Leibrandt was technically responsible for, and the Wildcats’ lead increased to 3-1.
In the bottom of the sixth with two outs and runners on first and second, Seminoles DH John Holland hit a double that drove in two runs and tied the game at 3-3.
At his first at bat, Ramsey, who went 1-3 with two walks, hit a line-single drive past the Arizona shortstop, but FSU stranded runners on first and second base.
Ramsey, the 23rd overall pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 draft, is the ACC Player of the Year, first team All-American and Academic All-American. He has a .382 batting average [second in the ACC], 13 homeruns [fifth in the ACC], and 57 RBIs [fifth in the ACC], and a .519 on-base average, which is first in the ACC.
“He is one of the best leaders we have ever had, the first guy to ever wear a C on his chest and it is for good reason. This guy is one of the best,” said Martin in the ESPN pre-game show.
As a freshman, Leibrandt started 18 games. He has an 8-2 record, 2.65 ERA, and 83 strikeouts. Fellow freshman pitcher Evan Geist [Marist] has appeared in two games.
In the elimination game on Sunday afternoon against Stony Brook, FSU racked up a convincing 12-2 win. Ramsey went 2-5 with a run scored and a RBI. On Tuesday, FSU will face UCLA
Entering the first game of the College World Series, FSU, the Atlantic Division Champion swept the Tallahassee Regional and only surrendered three runs in three games. In the Tallahassee Super Regional, Florida State swept Stanford in two games, and they outscored the Cardinals 35-8.
On Monday, after the Crier’s press deadline, Hudson Randall [2.61 ERA, 9-2 record, and 61 strikeouts] will take the mound for the Florida Gators [47-19] in their elimination game against Kent State [46-19].
Randall, a junior, is 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA in the 2012 NCAA tournament. In the two wins, he has struck out nine batters and walked one. Since his freshman season, Randall, a graduate of Dunwoody High School, has started nine games in the NCAA tournament. His 5-1 record with a 2.50 ERA and 49 strikeouts are all Florida records.