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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona first basemen went against the grain in college choice

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Baseball vs UCLA

Any time the Arizona baseball team takes on its familiar rival, ASU, tempers flare and the final result holds extra significance.

But for one freshman, the chance to play against ASU means even more.

First baseman Joseph Maggi will not only be taking on the Sun Devils tonight, but he will be playing against his brother, Beau Maggi.

“It’s exciting, it’s been on my mind since I signed at Arizona,” Joseph Maggi said. “I want to get back at ASU a little bit. It’s fun to play against a brother — it’s a nice, little friendly rival.”

The Maggi family has had a history with ASU since 2009 when Joeseph Maggi’s older brother, Drew Maggi, played for the Sun Devils.

Drew Maggi is now on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ single-A team, and Beau Maggi is a sophomore catcher at ASU.

It seemed like family tradition for Joseph Maggi to follow suit and join his brothers in Tempe, Ariz., and he said that was the plan all along.

But then Joseph Maggi tore his ACL his senior season in high school and everything was turned upside down. So far, Arizona has benefitted from his misfortune.

Once Joseph Maggi met with head coach Andy Lopez, his mind immediately went from playing at Packard Stadium to relocating to Tucson — from following family tradition to becoming the family rebel.

“(Lopez) told me about the mission here, and I was all in after that,” Joseph Maggi said.

But choosing a school was just the beginning. Joseph Maggi still had to prove he could contribute to the team.

“During the fall he just wasn’t the greatest kid out there — he was messing up a lot,” junior Alex Mejia said. “Ever since then he’s fixed things, turned things around. It’s definitely been a 180 (degree change).”

Joseph Maggi started the season behind fifth-year senior and designated hitter Bobby Brown, as well as sophomore first baseman Brandon Dixon.

But Brown started the season in a cold slump, giving Joseph Maggi an early opportunity to pinch-hit in Arizona’s second series of the season against Auburn, where he singled in his first career at-bat.

Then, in the following game of the doubleheader, Joseph Maggi pinch-hit for Brandon Dixon and the result was the same — another hit, and Joseph Maggi could no longer be ignored.

“I like to give the returning guys a real opportunity to play before they get pushed out by freshmen, I just think they’ve earned it,” Lopez said. “But (Joseph Maggi) just pushed, and pushed and pushed himself right into the lineup.”

Joseph Maggi has started 19 games this season and is batting .349, good enough for fourth on the team.

“Lopez showed faith in me,” Joseph Maggi said. “And I’ve been taking advantage of this big park — putting balls on the ground and making the defense get me out. It’s been successful.”

Most of Joseph Maggi’s appearances have been in the DH role, but with his continued success Lopez has started to play him at first base when the team plays against right-handers.

“That kid works really hard now and he gets after it,” Mejia said. “He’s a tough competitor. He doesn’t have any pop … but he finds his way to put the ball in play, and he gets hits for us.”

Joseph Maggi lacks any sort of power — he sports a .365 slugging percentage, which is the third-worst out of everyday players — but his ground ball approach is perfectly catered to the cavernous Hi Corbett Field.

But in the Wildcats’ visit to Tempe tonight, Maggi won’t be hitting it into the gaps of Hi Corbett, he’ll be playing at Packard Stadium in front of his parents and siblings who’ll be dressed in maroon and gold.

Joseph Maggi said his parents decided to wear the colors of whichever son is playing at home.
So while the Maggi’s will eventually be in cardinal and navy in late May, tonight Joseph Maggi is the enemy.

“Drew told me, ‘Against ASU, have some success, but you’re still not going to find the W,’” Joseph Maggi said.

Lopez said that he is unsure if Joseph Maggi will play today because of a bone bruise that bothered him over the weekend. But even if he is forced to watch the game from the bench, Joseph Maggi will still have the chance to watch his teammates take on his newest rival — something he never thought he’d say his sophomore year of high school.

“It’s a little bit of motivation for me,” Joseph Maggi said. “It’s real sweet to go back down to my hometown against him and play in the park that I watched my brothers have so much success in and get a win there. I’m excited.”

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