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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Despite huge series sweep, Arizona baseball has long road ahead

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

After its series sweep of the then-No. 2 Stanford Cardinal, the Arizona baseball team is ranked No. 4 in the nation, according to Baseball America.

The Wildcats (21-7, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference) are also tied with UCLA at the top of the Pac-12.

Right now, the Wildcats have more momentum than any other team in the conference, but baseball can be a very fickle thing.

Twenty-seven regular season games remain for Arizona — almost half the season.

Winning three straight games against the No. 2 team in the country is an accomplishment, but it’s certainly not time for the Wildcats to rest on their laurels.

“If you sweep Stanford, they don’t send you to Omaha on Monday,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “You have a lot of baseball left.”

On the flip side, Lopez said that even if they had lost all three, the Wildcats would have the same mindset.

“If you lose three to Stanford,” he said, “they don’t come in (and turn Hi Corbett Field) into a Wal-Mart.”

The season is still relatively young, and there are still improvements to be made.

Regardless of the sweep, it wasn’t all roses for Arizona this weekend.

Passed balls, overthrows and poor defense led to a season-high five errors for the Wildcats on Friday.

In fact, Arizona only went ahead in the bottom of the ninth when Stanford’s pitching struggled and the Cardinal defense committed an error.

Arizona right fielder Robert Refsnyder said that the team was aware of how poorly it played defensively.

“We can really improve, Friday and Saturday we had a lot of errors,” Refsnyder said. “We need to be more crisp. Baseball’s a funny game, but you can always get better.”

Lopez attributed the errors to Friday night’s atmosphere and the more than 4,000 in attendance, but as the season goes on, that pressure is only going to grow.

But in the Wildcats’ defense, they did get things together, and by Sunday afternoon, there were only two errors on the Arizona side of the scoreboard.

The defensive maturity was back.

In the top of the seventh on Sunday, junior shortstop Alex Mejia channeled his inner Ozzie Smith and made a spectacular full extension diving grab, throwing out the runner from his knees.

Mejia, Refsnyder and the rest of the junior starters should be able to carry the Wildcats through the rest of the season, and as a group, they aren’t expecting anything less of themselves.

Lopez said the weekend victories were good to see, but it didn’t necessarily surprise him.

“We’re going as scheduled,” Lopez said. “It’s a junior group. I think if you asked them they’d would say we’re supposed to be OK this year. It’s not like I have to go through the signs with them everyday and talk about what it’s like to be in the postseason.”

The Wildcats head to Utah Valley for a Wednesday-night matchup, where they’ll see if their weekend celebration comes with mid-week hangover.

“It’s good to be playing good baseball,” Refsnyder said. “Like Lopez said, it doesn’t punch our ticket to Omaha, it doesn’t punch our ticket to a conference championship.

“If you get complacent, that’s when teams sneak up on you.”

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