On June 25, 2012, the Arizona Wildcats won the College World Series.
It was the fourth national championship for the UA baseball program — and a long time coming.
The Wildcats had won it all three times in an 11-year span from 1976-86 under legendary coach Jerry Kindall. They hadn’t been able to recapture that glory — and had made it Omaha only once — in the ensuing 25 years.
That all changed in 2012. Coach Andy Lopez rode a sturdy starting rotation and a veteran, athletic lineup to a national title. Unlike previous years, the postseason road to Omaha went through Tucson thanks to the program’s relocation to Hi Corbett Field.
Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of that accomplishment. The Star will be commemorating the occasion all week long.
Starting today, we’ll look back at each of Arizona’s five victories in the CWS. Come Saturday, we’ll catch up with some of the key participants.
People are also reading…
We begin with the Wildcats’ Omaha opener, which followed a clean sweep of the Tucson Regional and a Super Regional sweep over St. John’s.
Final score: Arizona 4, FSU 3 (12)
What went down: The teams were tied 3-3 through six innings, and the score remained that way until the Wildcats broke through in the 12th. Joey Rickard doubled — Arizona’s first extra-base hit of the game — and Johnny Field followed with a double of his own to drive in Rickard with the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th.
Mathew Troupe then closed out the third-seeded Seminoles, although not without a bit of drama. Troupe hit FSU’s Seth Miller, who then advanced to second on a wild pitch. But Troupe struck out Devon Travis to end the game.
Troupe and Tyler Crawford combined to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings — more than the entire bullpen had thrown in the preceding five postseason games — in relief of ace Kurt Heyer, who allowed three runs (one earned) in 7 2/3 frames. Arizona advanced in the winners’ bracket to a meeting with conference rival UCLA, the No. 2 overall seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
By the numbers: Heyer allowed a solo home run to Sherman Johnson to lead off the bottom of the third inning. It was the first homer Heyer had surrendered since April 5, a span of nine starts.
They said it: “Momentum is a huge thing, and being able to get that first win will carry us forward. I think we’ll ride the momentum Sunday and for the rest of the World Series.” — Troupe
“Really proud of our two freshmen coming out of the ’pen. We do not win tonight without Crawford and Troupe doing what they did.” — Lopez
We wrote it: The Arizona Wildcats’ first College World Series game since 2004 was a showcase of styles and a battle of wills.
When the UA blew a two-run lead in the sixth inning and the game crawled into midnight, the club’s chances of winning seemingly shriveled.
But then Arizona catcher Riley Moore threw out the potential tying run, and Mat Troupe picked off a baserunner. And then Joey Rickard doubled, and Johnny Field — 0 for 4 at the plate — did the same, and the UA found itself staring at serious Omaha stakes.
The result: An opening-night shocker on college baseball’s biggest stage.
Where are they now? Right fielder Robert Refsnyder batted cleanup and led Arizona with two RBIs. Refsnyder recently was recalled by the Boston Red Sox, who signed him as a free agent in December. Refsnyder was batting .391 (9 for 23) for the Red Sox — his fifth major-league club — through Sunday.
Up next: Arizona (44-17) vs. UCLA (48-14), June 17
Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or [email protected]. On Twitter @michaeljlev