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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona set to face UCLA in World Series rematch

OMAHA, Neb. — Arizona baseball passed its first test in the World Series, walking off with a 4-3 win over Florida State Friday night. Now the Wildcats can take a sense of familiarity and confidence into Sunday night’s bout with Pac-12 rival UCLA, who made quick work of Stony Brook, 9-1 Friday afternoon.

UCLA, who is making its second World Series appearance in the last three years shares the Pac-12 title with Arizona, as both teams posted 20-10 conference records.

In their lone meeting this season, UCLA took two out of three, including a 15-3 drubbing in which pitcher Konner Wade only made it through three innings after giving up 10 hits and six runs. Arizona’s Sunday loss marked the first time all season the Wildcats lost a weekend series.

“We went out Saturday and Sunday, and didn’t play good baseball,” left fielder Johnny Field said. “We know they’re a really good team. They have good pitching, good bullpen, and they can swing it with anyone.”

UCLA’s pitching was able to hold Stony Brook, the team with the nation’s second-highest batting average and the country’s leader in hits, to just five hits in the game, their lowest output since a March 25 game against Holy Cross, who held them to three hits.

The Bruins peppered third-team All-American Stony Brook starter Tyler Johnson with five hits and seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work, his shortest outing of the season.

“That’s a very good lineup,” Johnson said. “Very tough lineup. When I did barely miss, I’d throw the ball three inches more outside.”

Making the matchup all the more familiar and strange is head coach Andy Lopez’s connection to UCLA. Lopez and his wife are UCLA alumni, and the Wildcats shared a plane with the Bruins to Omaha on Tuesday.

“The hardest part in on the flight, my wife is a sorority girl from UCLA and halfway through the flight, she was going to do the eight count (a UCLA chant),” Lopez joked.

The Pac-12 co-champs meeting is however, viewed as an advantage by Lopez.

“It sounds kind of selfish, but its kind of fun to play a Pac-12 school in the World Series,” Lopez said. “We look forward to the challenge.”

UCLA’s hitting plan is a lot like the Wildcats’, in that they are not looking for the big swing. Instead, the Bruins are just trying to make solid contact that will frustrate pitchers and put runners in scoring position. On Friday, UCLA was six-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

“It was a typical Bruin win, really,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “Nothing fancy. No big home runs or anything like that. It was just kind of more plate discipline and using the middle of the field.”

Konner Wade will be on the mound for Arizona, who has been solid for the Wildcats this postseason. In two starts, Wade has pitched 17 innings, giving up 16 hits, but only five runs, walking only two. His pitching figures to be the key for Arizona.

“We know if we go in there and Wade gives us a good outing and play good baseball, we have our chances,” Field said.”

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