Finch, Cats down FSU 6-2

Jennie Finch hit a solo home run to brake a 2-2 tie in the top of the 11th inning and propel the Arizona Wildcats to a 6-2 win over Florida State in the semifinal of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Wildcats will face Cal tomorrow afternoon for the championship.

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Finch threw the entire three hour and 25-minute game, striking out 17, walking three and allowing five hits. After her blast, Leneah Manuma walked, Mackenzie Vandergeest was hit by a pitch and Jackie Coburn drilled a three-run homer to punctuate the victory.

It took Arizona hitters most of the action to get untracked, stranding 13 runners before the big rally in the 11th off the second FSU pitcher, Leslie Malerich (35-14).

Finch improved to 34-5 and pushed UA to 55-11. FSU dropped to 55-20 and was eliminated from the WCWS..

Arizona loaded the bases in the first but came up empty off FSU starter Jessica van der Linden. Lovie Jung led off with a single to left, moved to second on a sacrifice by Courtney Fossatti and to third on Finch's grounder. Manuma and Vandergeest walked, but Coburn popped to shortstop.

The Cats put a runner in scoring position again in the second. With two outs, freshman rightfielder Crystal Farley beat out an infield slap hit to shortstop in her first-even WCWS at-bat, then stole second. But Jung grounded to short to end the threat.

Florida State scored an unearned run to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Finch, who had struck out five in a row through two innings, gave up a hit to Elisa Velasco who advanced to second on a throwing error by shortstop Jung on the play. An out later, leadoff batter Shundra Colzie singled to left to put runners at the corners. Kimmy Carter followed with a single that brought in Colzie.

A force out and strikeout ended the inning, but the run was the first scored off Finch in 28 innings of World Series play dating to last year.

UA answered quickly in the top of the fourth. Vandergeest led off the inning with a double to right-center and two outs later scored from third on a wild pitch by van der Linden.

The Cats scored an unearned run with two outs in the top of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. Leneah Manuma singled up the middle and Vandergeest reached on an error. Carrie Hagen entered to pinch run for Manuma and scored on a single that bounced away from shortstop Tatiana George.

The Seminoles tied the game with a one-out solo home run by Colzie, the first homer off Finch in 42 innings and seven postseason appearances this year. It was Colzie's first home run in 25 games and fifth of the year.

Arizona squandered an opportunity by stranding two runners in the top of the seventh. Finch reached on an error, and pinch runner Rebekah Quiroz beat the throw to second on Manuma's fielder's choice sacrifice bunt. But Vandergeest forced Quiroz at third on a fielder's choice for the first out and Coburn popped to reliever Leslie Malerich.

In the ninth, Fossatti led off with a walk and Manuma reached on an error to put two on with one out. However, Malerich struck out Vandergeest and Coburn to strand the runners.

A superb defensive play helped the Cats hang on for at least another inning. George led off the FSU ninth with a single to left. Finch whirled on Monique Marier's sacrifice bunt attempt and started a 1-6-4 double play, then struck out Beth Wade for the third out.

Finch struck out the side in the 11th and also in the second inning.She allowed only one hit after the fifth-inning homer by Colzie.

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