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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball defeats Louisville, moves on to super regional round

They say defense wins championships. That may be true, but for Arizona baseball, their smoking hot bats lifted them out of the NCAA regionals to make their first trip to the super regionals since 2008, defeating Louisville 16-3 at Hi Corbett Field.

Across their three games, Arizona outscored Missouri and Louisville 47-10 and tacked on double digit hits in every game, with 20 Friday, 23 Saturday, and “just” 15 Sunday.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “It’s fun when you can apply stuff that you teach on a day to day basis.”

Sunday night, in the regional championship game against Saturday night’s opponent Louisville, the Wildcats’ trend of scoring runs in bunches continued. Arizona scored four runs in each of the third, sixth, and seventh frames behind the first grand slam of their season from left fielder Johnny Field, who finished with eight hits and eight runs in three regional games.

Field, the Pac-12 batting champion, was not the only contributor, however.

Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, shortstop Alex Mejia, center fielder Joey Rickard, and designated hitter Bobby Brown all entered Sunday night’s regional finale with batting averages of .600 or higher in postseason play, with Mejia’s .778 leading the pack.

Mejias-Brean, Mejia, Rickard, Brown, and Field had a combined batting average of .527 with 28 runs and 27 RBI.

Arizona, with 47 total runs, only scored more runs in a regional twice, with 51 in 1989, and 50 in 1986, in five and four games, respectively.

“That offense is locked in,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said. “That’s definitely the best team we’ve faced all year.”

Arizona was also aided by six Louisville errors, most of which were simple mental mistakes from trying too hard, said Louisville’s Stewart Ijames.

“It’s hard to keep your mind set on each pitch when we’re losing as much as we were,” Ijames said. “It’s hard when you’re thinking this is the last game, the last time I’m coming out.

The offense may have been the highlight of the weekend, but Arizona’s pitchers were mowing batters down left and right. James Farris was on the mound for Arizona on Sunday, allowing just one run and one walk in a complete game performance, the Wildcats’ second in three games.

Farris struck out seven and despite giving up 12 hits, remained in control of Louisville’s bats all evening, in front of 3,485 fans.

“It was relieving,” Farris said. “Any time I go out, I try to minimize walks and hit batters, and I’ll have good game. I’m thankful I kept ball down. The defense was huge. Without them I wouldn’t be lasting that long.”

In the regionals, Arizona used only four pitchers in three games, in comparison to 13 for Louisville and eight for Missouri.

“It bodes well for us,” Lopez said. “The coach in me wishes I could have gotten some postseason experience for other guys.”

Hi Corbett is expected to be the host of this weekend’s super regional round against Chapel Hill regional champion St. John’s, which would be the Wildcats’ first time hosting a super regional in program history. An official announcement will be made later today.

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