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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball sweeps USC to stay alive for the NCAA Tournament

Arizona baseball kept its hopes to defend its national championship alive with a sweep of USC to close out the regular season.

The Wildcats (34-21, 15-15 Pac-12) exploded for four runs in the fifth inning to cruise to a 7-1 win Sunday at Hi Corbett Field. The UA won five of its last six games and four straight to remain in contention for the NCAA Tournament selection on Monday.

“We got, what, five out of six good moments the last two weekends,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “We’ll see if it’s enough.”

The selection show is at 9 a.m. Tucson time on ESPNU.

“Honestly, I’ve never looked at the show, I’m going to get my car washed [Monday] at nine o’clock,” Lopez said. “For 31 years, my wife, she laughs at this, ‘I know where you’re going.’ I come in and someone tells me ‘you’re in or ‘you’re out.’”

Sophomore Tyler Crawford (7-2) pitched a complete game eight-hitter, giving up one earned run while walking two and striking out three.

Six Wildcats had an RBI, including second baseman Trent Gilbert’s who had two. Four Wildcats had a multi-hit afternoon.

Going into the series with the Trojans, Arizona’s RPI was 62, up from 86 after it won the series at ASU last weekend. The UA needed another successful weekend to raise its profile, though, since USC’s RPI was 128.

“To be honest, I don’t really know how the tournament works,” junior third baseman Brandon Dixon said. “I think we kinda showed that we’re good enough to be in obviously, but you never know with things like that.”

The Wildcats are 6-11 away from Hi Corbett Field and their top 100 RPI wins are No. 21 ASU (three times, twice on the road), No. 55 San Francisco (twice), No. 73 Long Beach State (on the road), No. 80 Stanford (on the road), No. 94 Texas Tech and No. 98 Washington.

After hosting Regionals and Super Regionals last year, not knowing if the season was over on the final weekend of the regular season was a weird feeling to Crawford, he said.

“It’s an adjustment, last year the only thing the only thing we were wondering was if we were going to host or not,” Crawford said. “But it’s out of our control at this point we’ve done all we can do. It’s just kind of a waiting game, you know?”

USC took a brief 1-0 lead in the first, but in the home half of the inning the Wildcats tied it up. They took a 3-1 lead in the second.

After finishing the game off with four runs in the fifth, as well as a strong outing by Crawford, Arizona stayed alive for the postseason. Dixon said the Wildcats would be dangerous if they made the field of 64.

“It’s all about getting hot at the right time,” he said. “So if we do get in the playoffs and get lucky, I think we’re as hot as anyone in the country.”

Lopez added that it’s “disappointing that the UA didn’t play this well in the middle of the season.

“We started out with five, sometimes six freshmen in the line up. We’re a lot better at the end of the year, we come from a pretty good baseball conference and we’re 15-15 [in Pac-12 play].”

Before the ASU series, Lopez said he thought winning their last six would be enough. After the strong finish, he’s already started planning Tuesday’s practice.

“I always am optimistic, I’ve already planned something for Tuesday night,” Lopez said. “I’m always optimistic, but I’ve been on both ends of it too.”

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Dixon captures Pac-12 batting crown

After going 2-for-5 Sunday, Dixon secured the Pac-12 batting crown, the second year in a row a Wildcat claimed it. Last season center fielder Johnny Field won the honor.

“It’s a cool thing,” Dixon said. “I mean I don’t really get caught up in awards and stuff, but I mean it’s definitely a cool thing to win.

“My roommate Johnny won it last year, so it is cool to keep it in the program. Hopefully next year they’ll get to win it again.”

Dixon batted .369 this season and also led the team in RBIs (51), on-base percentage (.443), slugging percentage (.561) and home runs (6).

“He’s the epitome of what you want in a young guy, he’s a great, great young man,” Lopez said. “I’m very blessed to have him in the program the last three years; good guy, good player too.

“He’ll have a great future in pro ball too.”

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