So this is why college baseball teams like to host regionals.
15-3, 16-4, 16-3. Thanks for coming, Louisville and Missouri. Hope you got to see the new elephants at the zoo.
That’s not a knock on the Cardinals or Tigers. Every team in this field was a regular season champion or conference tournament champ. When the brackets were analyzed the Tucson Regional was considered one of the toughest. The Wildcats were just that good.
UA coach Andy Lopez couldn’t have drawn it up any better. Line drives all over the ballpark leading to big innings. Starting pitchers executing with the lead allowing the arm-thin Cats to go to the bullpen for a grand total of three outs.
“I think we’re a good team,” Lopez said. “I think (the players have) proven that. They play hard. A good team that plays hard is tough to beat.”
Arizona’s treatment of the regional’s competition made one dig deep for adequate descriptors. Devastated? Annihilated? Laid waste the sky as well as the earth?
“That’s definitely the best team we’ve played all year,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell summarized. That list includes tournament teams Mississippi, Kentucky, Purdue, Pepperdine…
And St. John’s.
The Wildcats continued to get help from their friends. A week after Oregon State swept Oregon to give the UA a shot at earning a share of the Pac-12 championship, the Red Storm of St. John’s beat No. 6 North Carolina twice to win the Chapel Hill Regional. With the national seed out of the way Arizona is in line to host the Super Regionals at Hi Corbett Field next weekend.
The Super sites won’t be officially announced until later today. Logic says Arizona, the 1-seed in its region, should get the nod over 3-seed St. John’s, but this is college baseball where geography is always a factor and hosting sites are sometimes awarded to northern teams to promote “national balance.”
Will the NCAA give a Super Regional to a rare northeastern participant as opposed to a third team from the Pac-12?
“My hope is (to host),” Lopez said. “But I learned a long time ago that sometimes expectations are the wrong way to live.”
Lopez added that he hoped the NCAA would view the weekend’s attendance numbers – over 12,500 for the three UA games – and Arizona’s Pac-12 championship as additional reasons to put the next round in Tucson.
Winning the Pac-12 looks even better after the last three days. Eight host teams went 3-0 in regional play and half of them came from the Pac-12.
The Wildcats should be playing for a trip to the College World Series on their home field. If not we’ll have to dig deep to adequately describe the outrage.
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It was the one question that kept coming up over the weekend. From Twitter, via text, people weren’t asking, “Does Arizona always hit this well?” or “Why aren’t they putting on the wheel play in an obvious bunting situation?”
No, people wanted to know: What’s the deal what that hand gesture?
You saw it when Joey Rickard or Johnny Field stood up after a double or triple. They looked toward their dugout, waved their right hand behind their head and teammates would do it back.
I asked Field about it after the game. He said that’s the sign the coaches use to tell the outfielders to play “no doubles” defense. In other words, back up and don’t let the ball get by you.
When used after another shot in the gap the message is simple: You just got beat again.
Cocky? Perhaps. But nothing wrong with showing a little fire this time of year.
Brash? Yes. Forty-seven runs’ worth.
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