The state of Florida sent two teams to the 2012 College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Both the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles had expectations of playing for the title, but both squads were eliminated in their respective brackets.
Although both teams are disappointed, few neighborhoods in the country can boast that they had three players [Centerfielder James Ramsey [Wesleyan] and pitcher Brandon Leibrandt [Marist] at FSU and pitcher Hudson Randall [Dunwoody] at UF] playing on the highest stage in college baseball.
FSU (50-17) defeated UCLA 4-1 but lost to Arizona 10-3.
In a rematch from a week ago when FSU lost 4-3 to Arizona, the Wildcats had an explosive first inning, and the Seminoles were never able to recover.
Despite being a freshman, FSU head coach Mike Martin selected Leibrandt to be the starting pitcher, as he did when FSU played Arizona in the previous meeting.
The first Wildcats’ batter got a single and the next batter hit a shot back to Leibrandt, which was a double-play ball, but he made a throwing error to second base. With runners on first and third, Leibrandt gave up a single to Alex Mejia, who drove in Arizona’s first run of the game.
After 17 pitches, Leibrandt had no outs and the bases loaded. An Arizona batter hit a fly ball to center field to drive in the second run. After 26 pitches, Leibrandt was in another jam, and Arizona had loaded the bases again. The Wildcats would increase their lead to 4-0. At this point, Martin pulled the freshman from the mound. Leibrandt (8-3) picked up his third loss of the season, and he was charged with six runs, two earned, on three hits, and two walks.
“It was just a tremendous job by U of A and the way they played the game,” FSU Coach Mike Martin said. “They were very difficult outs all day long. The main thing that I would like to say is how proud I am of our ball club. Throughout the year to accomplish what they did and to get to the hallowed ground, to be able to compete in this tremendous tournament. It’s a dream come true for players and coaches to bring a team out here.”
It was rough day in the batter’s box for Ramsey who went 0-5 against Arizona, but he went 2-3 against UCLA and scored a run.
Ramsey, an All-American outfielder, is the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner in NCAA Division I baseball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. In addition, Ramsey was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Ironically, Leibrandt was the starting pitcher in FSU’s first and last games of the season. Florida State was one of the last four teams competing at the 2012 CWS. Arizona advanced to the championship series to play two-time defending champion South Carolina.
Entering the 2012 CWS, there were very high expectations for Florida. Last season the Gators were the national runner-up to South Carolina, and this season they entered as the No. 1 seed.
In the double-elimination tournament, the Gators (47-20) suffered back-to-back losses to South Carolina (7-3); and last Monday, lost 5-4 to Cinderella Kent State in the elimination game.
Randall, the seventh round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers, was the starting pitcher against Kent State. Going into the game, Randall, a junior, had a 9-2 record, 2.61 ERA, and 61 strikeouts.
The temperature on the TD Ameritrade Park field at the first pitch was 95 degrees and it had an impact on Randall. His first and only inning of action was tough. Kent State had runners on the corners with one out because of an infield error and bloop single. Randall had Kent State’s clean-up hitter George Roberts down two strikes, but he hit a single to right field to score their first run of the game.
With two outs and 11 pitches in, the Florida training staff gave Randall fluids on the pitching mound. Showing determination to finish the inning, Randall struck out a Kent State batter to end the inning.