Arizona Baseball Notebook: Errors don't go unnoticed, Wildcats embrace fan support, Ok. St. next
Arizona outfielder Zach Gibbons swings for the pitch against Miami at the NCAA World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Gibbons had three hits and two RBI in the Wildcats' 9-3 win over Oklahoma State.
Errors don’t go unnoticed
In a tournament like the College World Series, it’s often the unforced errors that come back to haunt a ball club.
On Saturday night, Miami starter Michael Mediavilla all but dug his own hole in the first inning by walking two batters and hitting two more. The Arizona Wildcats hardly had to lift the bat off their shoulders to score the first run of the night.
But, when they finally did, a two-run single by Jared Oliva put Arizona ahead 3-0 in the first, while a Zach Gibbons double in the fifth inning expanded the lead to 5-1.
But Arizona could have done more damage if it hadn’t committed unforced errors of its own right on both of those big at-bats.
On Oliva’s two-run, first-inning single, Arizona left-fielder Kyle Lewis missed a stop sign at third-base and ran into an easy tag-out at the plate.
Gibbons’ double ended with him getting thrown out at third base trying to stretch his double to a triple. Both were costly outs that both ended offensive opportunities for the Wildcats.
After the game, Arizona head coach Jay Johnson downplayed the two base-running mistakes.
Johnson credited Lewis’ gaffe to the junior’s aggressive style.
“Part of the deal is [Lewis] has to play hard or he’s not a very good player,” Johnson said. “So I’m fine with that one.”
As for Gibbons getting tagged out at third base on what was otherwise a routine double, Johnson took the blame.
“It was a tricky play,” Johnson said. “All the Miami outfielders are really athletic. He got to the ball quick. I made a little bit later decision to send Cody [Ramer] because we’re not going to make an out at the plate with no outs. By the time I got back to Zach, it was too late. So I have to wear the hat on that one.”
Wildcats embrace fan support
From the opening pitches of the game until the final out of the night, a steady cascade of “U of A” and “Arizona” chants filtered through TD Ameritrade Park.
The Wildcats may be at a geographical disadvantage compared to Monday’s Oklahoma State opponent, but Arizona fans made their voices heard Saturday, and the team took notice.
“It was nice to hear them for the first time in about five weeks,” Johnson said. “I looked up in the first inning, the first at-bat, and they’re waving the 3-2 rally towels. So that was pretty sweet.”
Johnson even joked that Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne would charter fans to Omaha to boost the Wildcats’ fan support.
“Anybody out in Tucson wants to jump on a plane and come out and add to that contingent, you have my blessing,” Johnson said.
Oklahoma State next
Arizona’s attention will now shift towards the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who beat UC, Santa Barbara 1-0 Saturday behind a complete game shutout from right-hander Thomas Hatch.
After the UA’s win over Miami, Johnson said that he had spent any time digging into the Cowboys, other than the three innings he watched of Oklahoma State’s game earlier in the day.
“We’re going to have a sandwich, have a Diet Coke and I’m going to think a lot about the orange and black Cowboys over the next 36 hours,” Johnson said. “I know they’re good. Great coaching staff. Great players.”
The Wildcats, who will practice at Creighton University in Omaha on Sunday, are scheduled to face Oklahoma State at 4 p.m. MST Monday. The game will be televised on ESPN.
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