Gorman products Field, Rickard, Manthei help Arizona to CWS title

A day later, the emotions of winning the College World Series hadn’t subsided for Arizona’s Johnny Field and Joey Rickard.

In fact, time to reflect only sweetened the moment for the Bishop Gorman High School graduates, who are two of three former Gaels on the Wildcats’ first national title-winning team since 1986.

"It’s just by far the best experience of my life. Not even a close second," said Field, a sophomore left fielder. "It was just surreal being out there with all the fans and everything. I don’t think I’ll be able to top that."

Field and Rickard, the Wildcats’ junior center fielder, helped Arizona to a dominant postseason capped with a 4-1 victory over South Carolina on Monday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

On Tuesday, the party continued as the Wildcats returned to Tucson, Ariz., and celebrated their fourth national title with nearly 5,100 fans at McKale Center.

"It’s everything I hoped it would be, plus more," Rickard said. "It’s not settled in. We’re just trying to enjoy the moment. It’s pretty much a blur."

Another former Gorman star, junior right-hander Stephen Manthei, made his mark as an effective relief pitcher for the Wildcats this season.

Field said helping Arizona rekindle its baseball glory days was more special by doing so alongside two former high school teammates.

"It’s awesome," he said. "All three of us have a great relationship. We won four (state titles) at Gorman and a (American Legion) national championship, but to do it at this stage with Division I baseball, with so much parity and the new bats, it’s tough to do."

Field, who committed to Arizona the first week of his junior year in high school, said the Wildcats’ coaches sold him on the opportunity to compete for a national title.

"The No. 1 thing why I wanted to go there was I thought Arizona would be the best place for me to get to Omaha and win a national championship," Field said. "I sat down and talked with the coaches, and they were on a mission to get to Omaha. That’s what really fired me up most to go there."

Rickard, who also committed to the Wildcats as a high school junior, recalled his decision similarly.

"The opportunity to win there was a winner for me," he said.

Field and Rickard are used to winning, each capturing four state titles as part of the Gaels’ streak of seven in a row from 2006 to 2012.

That success has continued at Arizona, with Rickard and Field setting the table atop the order this season.

Rickard, Arizona’s leadoff man, batted .320 with one home run and 33 RBIs this season. Field, who batted second, hit .370 with three homers and 44 RBIs.

Manthei appeared in 23 games for the Wildcats (48-17), going 6-4 with a 4.29 ERA.

"It makes it that much more special, being with Stephen and Johnny," Rickard said.

Monday’s clincher also provided a bizarre moment when a female fan ran onto the field to pat Rickard in the seventh inning.

Rickard has a decision to make on his future after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth round June 5. He has until July 13 to decide whether to sign a professional deal or return to college, but Rickard said he’s leaning toward going pro.

"I’ve been talking to them," he said of the Rays. "We finally got together today. Anything could happen, but I’m leaning to going professional."

Whatever happens, Field is thankful for a ride to the top of the college baseball world.

"It was just a thrill the whole way," he said. "The adrenaline every single night playing in front of crowds with such a great group of guys – you couldn’t ask for a better group of guys – we’re really blessed."

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @tristanaird.

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