2012 Pac-12 baseball champions

Arizona is dreaming of another trophy.
Photo by Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com

Fact: Starting in 1970, every other time the Arizona Wildcats baseball team made it to the College World Series, the UA won it all.

Arizona last went to the CWS in 2004. The Cats did not win the national championship. Does this team have what it takes to continue the decades-long trend?

UCLA joins Arizona as Pac-12 representatives in Omaha. TWIT-Pac joins you and the schedule (all times Arizona/Pacific):

#1 ARIZONA (43-17) vs. #1 Florida State (48-15)
Fri. 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3.com

#1 UCLA (47-14) vs. #4 Stony Brook (52-13)
Fri. 2 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3.com

The other four teams don’t matter, at least not for another nine days. No one from Bracket 1 (a.k.a., the Pac Bracket) will face anyone from Bracket 2 (the SEC Bracket) until the championship series. The goal is to survive your four-team bracket and then see who shows up on the other side.

Here’s the rest of the schedule for Bracket 1:

0-1 team vs. 0-1 team
Sun. 2 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3.com

1-0 team vs. 1-0 team
Sun. 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3.com

1-1 team vs. 1-1 team
Tue. 5 p.m.
TV: ESPN / ESPN3.com

2-0 team vs. 2-1 team
Thu. 2 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3.com

2-1 team vs. 3-1 team (if necessary)
Fri. June 22, 2 p.m. or 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3.com

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With Oregon falling to Kent State at home and Stanford getting knocked around in Tallahassee, the Pac-12 failed in its bid to get more than two teams into the CWS for just the second time.

The Pac-12 had three participants in 1988 (ASU, Cal, Stanford). Arizona, ASU and WSU all made the College World Series in 1976 but the Wildcats and Sun Devils were still members of the WAC at the time.

* * *

So here we go. The BatCats have been working toward this all season. The juniors have been building toward this for three years. UA coach Andy Lopez has been waiting eight years. And Bobby Brown, according to Lopez, has been waiting since about 1971.

The 2004 Arizona College World Series team was a year away and exited in just three games. The 2005 squad was better (more wins, higher Pac-12 finish) but got a tougher draw and couldn’t get out of the regional round. It just shows the importance of seizing the moment to strike while the iron window’s open.

This year’s team is not a year away. It is peaking in the right season, at the right time.

Since the best-case scenario has worked out well for the Cats the past five weeks we may as well spell it out: Kurt Heyer wins today, Konner Wade wins Sunday, James Farris wins Thursday, and Heyer starts game one of the championship series.

If the UA has to come out of the losers’ bracket you could bring back Heyer on Thursday (one day short of normal rest) and Wade on Friday (two days short of normal rest) with a rested Farris ready to start the championship series opener.

At this point every team is exceptional and every team is hot. You can play your best and still lose. But it’s much better to play your best and simply get beat than to play poorly and always wonder what could have been.

I do expect Arizona to play well. I expect Heyer to give up fewer than 17 hits. I expect the UA’s potent lineup to continue to put good swings on the ball and hit line drives. I expect the crowds to be impressed with Alex Mejia’s defense. I expect people to be surprised at short Johnny Field’s big bat. I expect exciting games.

And I expect Wildcat Universe to be proud of this team when its season is complete.

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Scott Terrell will have College World Series updates on Twitter and Facebook.