It was a carbon copy of Friday’s game. Arizona’s starting pitcher staggered early but stayed upright until the Wildcat bats put together some hits.
And hits and hits and hits.
In the UA’s regional opener it was 15 runs, 20 hits, five doubles and four triples. On Saturday the final tallies were 16 runs, 23 hits, five doubles, one triple and the first home run hit by any team in the regional (off the bat of defensive replacement Brandon Dixon of all people. When you’re hot…).
The BatCats turned in quite the offensive performance in front of Muhammad Ali and 4,006 other fans at Hi Corbett Field.
When told Ali had been at the game, Arizona coach Andy Lopez worked a boxing analogy into his postgame comments. “You’ve got to be able to take a punch,” Lopez said. “Even in baseball, if they score three, you’ve got to be able to take a punch and come back.”
Now, like The Champ, Arizona needs to go for the knockout.
This is the fifth time Arizona has won the first two games of a regional under Lopez but the previous four didn’t all go the Wildcats’ way. Twice the UA won the third game to finish the sweep. The two times Lopez’s teams lost game three, however, they went on to lose the fourth game and get eliminated.
The difference this year is Arizona is the top seed in the regional, and the 1-seed’s biggest advantage is not having to beat the 1-seed. The last time the Wildcats were the top seed in a regional, 2008 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the UA did complete the sweep and advance.
Now the Cats wait while Missouri and Louisville face an elimination game today in the late afternoon heat. Arizona then gets the survivor at 8 p.m. tonight with a chance to win the regional.
How do you avoid a letdown against a team you’ve already beaten up once?
Keep swinging, and keep hitting.
* * *
Arizona Regionals under Andy Lopez
*Won Super Regional and advanced to College World Series
**Lost Super Regional
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