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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball defeats St. Johns, headed to College World Series

With a trip to Omaha for the College World Series on the line and just three outs remaining in their clinching 7-4 win over super regional foe St. John’s, Arizona pitcher Konner Wade forced Red Storm third baseman Sean O’Hare to ground out to first base, sending Arizona baseball to their first World Series appearance since 2004, and their 16th overall.

“You could really feel the energy in the crowd,” Wade said. “They were really behind me today. I was just trying to throw strikes at that point. I kept my composure long enough to get that last out.”

Arizona’s hitting has been the topic of conversation for over a week, but the overall dominance of Wade was the determining factor between the two teams. Wade pitched a six hit complete game, and retired each of the first nine batters he faced, and 11 of the first 12, throwing just 28 pitches through four innings.

“Sometimes, we all want to see a slam-dunk, and the home run,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “Really, the key for us to be successful in the postseason is our pitching. The pitching has to give this offense a chance. You don’t get a chance unless he goes out there and does what he did today.”

Wade’s performance was complimented by the timely hits and runs his offense was able to score.
In the first frame, Red Storm pitcher Sean Hogan seemingly forced UA right fielder Robert Refsnyder to ground out, which would have ended the inning and stranded Joey Rickard on second base. Instead, catcher’s interference was called on Red Storm catcher Danny Bethea, allowing Refsnyder to reach base, extending the inning, and sending the 3,907 Hi Corbett Field attendees into a frenzy.

Three batters and three singles later, Arizona had screamed out to a 3-0 lead, to the dismay of pitcher Sean Hagan.

“I didn’t see it to be honest,” Hagan said. “Obviously that’s how their inning started, but I probably should have put him down before then. It’s just one of those days where the balls are bouncing like that, calls are coming like that.”

Some of the calls Hagan and St. John’s head coach Ed Blankmeyer referenced were the amount of walks Hagan issued out in comparison to Wade.

Hagan, the Red Storm’s ace, had only walked 23 batters over the course of 10 games. In his 11th start of the season, he walked seven. Wade, who had a midweek March start against New Mexico State in which he threw 20 balls in his first 22 pitches and walked nine, did not walk a batter.

“When you don’t walk anybody, you rely on what you do offensively to get things started,” Blankmeyer said. “They only ran two [starting pitchers] out there, I don’t know how they’re getting away with that, but God bless them.”

Having eliminated the Red Storm, Arizona will now travel to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series. The Wildcats await the winner of the super regional series between Florida State and Stanford, whom the Wildcats swept in the regular season. No matter who the competition is, Lopez said he likes his teams chances.

“I like them. I really do,” Lopez said. “I like them for two real, intangible reasons: one is they like to compete, meaning the guys I suit up with. And two, they like to compete. As a coach you can’t ask for more than that.”

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