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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball snubbed by the NCAA Tournament

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Carl S. Miller III

Carl Miller / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball missed out on an NCAA Tournament berth Monday despite sweeping the Trojans over the weekend.

With its back against the wall, the Arizona baseball team did everything it could to make a late-season push for the NCAA Tournament. In the end, it was too little, too late.

“It’s a tough moment for all of us,” junior Johnny Field said. “I mean, we really didn’t play as good as we wanted all year. But, we thought down the stretch, we might have played well enough to sneak in there, from what we were hearing.”

“It’s a tough moment, but life goes on. We’ll be alright.”

Just a year after winning sweeping through the College World Series and winning the National Championship, the Wildcats were left out of the 64-team tournament field Monday.

Arizona did everything it could to finish the season strong, winning five of its last six. With everything said and done, though, the Wildcats’ Pac-12 play swoon and 0-9 record against the conference’s best proved too damning for their tournament chances.

“I’m real childish when it comes to this stuff, if I could leave the country for that five weeks I would,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “I don’t really pay attention to anything after this point because we didn’t get in.

“So that’s very childish and I apologize to anyone who sees [this]. I feel the responsibility to get my guys in the postseason on a yearly basis, when we don’t I take full responsibility for failing them, so to speak.”

Arizona (34-21) swept USC at Hi Corbett Field in its season finale, outscoring the Trojans 29-7 during the three-game series. The series win moved the UA to .500 in the conference (15-15) and pushed its RPI up to No. 58.

The sweep also came a week after taking two of three at then-No. 15 Arizona State, which was one of the four Pac-12 teams to be selected to the NCAA Tournament.

While the UA’s résumé put it in contention to make the tournament, Arizona had a worse RPI than any at-large selections, a 6-11 road record and went winless against No. 3 Oregon State, No. 8 Oregon and UCLA.

“Once you see certain bubble teams get in that you could have had their place, or they took your place, thing like that,” junior Brandon Dixon said, “you kind of get the feeling that they might’ve taken our spot.”

Fellow Pac-12 member Stanford also had a shot at an at-large bid, but the Cardinal also was left out of the field. For Lopez, the lack of a real Pac-12 presence in the NCAA Tournament was very troubling.

Lopez coached Florida in the SEC for seven years before moving to Arizona. He said that in the SEC, teams get rewarded for having an average season in the tough baseball conference. He used his old school as an example, since the Gators were given an at-large bid this year despite a 29-28 overall record.

“In the West Coast, you don’t get rewarded — you get punished, you get punished,” Lopez said. “There’s no way four teams from the Pac-12 [only make it]. Come on.”

“You can’t have an average year, as I told the guys. You can’t. We were a 38 win [team] on this day last year. We’re 34 wins today … 38 last year and, yeah, we won a national championship last year. And we’re at 34 today and you’re not getting in.”

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