A warning to College World Series pitchers: If you give up a double against Arizona, you're going to hear about it.
Just ask Robert Benincasa. Florida State's reliever pitched three scoreless innings against the Wildcats before giving up a double to Joey Rickard in the 12th inning Friday night. After sliding in safely, Rickard turned to his bench and emphatically waved his right arm behind his back, as if he was trying to swat a fly.
The bench, suddenly in an uproar, mirrored his movements, hollering encouragement and jumping up and down like school kids about to hit recess. Clearly, the momentum had shifted.
Johnny Field drove him in — with a double — and Arizona won its first game of the College World Series 4-3. After the game, a jubilant Rickard broke down the two-base tradition.
“This is our ‘no doubles' sign,” Rickard said, once again extending his right arm behind his back. “It basically means they should have been playing ‘no doubles.'”
The trend continued Sunday, when Bobby Brown belted a double to right, scoring Robert Refsnyder and Seth Mejias-Brean. The wave-inducing hit extended the Wildcats' lead over UCLA to 4-0, the eventual final score.
The hand motion gets the team going, but that isn't its only purpose. Closer Matt Troupe said the move also strikes fear into the hearts of opponents.
At least, it's meant to.
“Our team feeds off of it, and we like to think we get into the other team's heads,” Troupe said, smiling. “I don't know if that's true, but we like to think that.”
The ritual is a relatively new addition to the Wildcat repertoire. During the Tucson regional, Louisville used a similar motion, shooting an imaginary bow and arrow toward the hitter and back to the bench.
Arizona's players didn't steal the move — they amended it.
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“They put their hand behind their back and then brought it forward, and we thought that was kind of cool, to be honest. We were like, ‘Ooh, that's nice,'” Troupe said. “So we just kept it and made our own thing.”
Moving forward in Omaha, Rickard doesn't want to make any predictions. There is one thing opposing pitchers can expect, though:
“I don't see it stopping anytime soon,” Rickard said. “You look over and the bench is just begging for you to do it, so they get it out of you.”
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