Facilities go long way for success

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat

A view of Hi Corbett Field before Arizona's 10-5 win against Utah on March 13. Arizona moved to Hi Corbett in 2012 and won the national championship that year; ASU moved from Packard Stadium to Phoenix Municipal Stadium this season and is hoping for the same results. 

ASU baseball followed Arizona’s 2012 game plan, and the Sun Devils are obviously hoping for similar results.

In 2012, the Wildcats moved from Frank Sancet Stadium, the on-campus ball park, to Hi Corbett Field, a few minutes away from campus. The Wildcats won the 2012 College World Series.

Arizona coach Andy Lopez said the Wildcats’ move to Hi Corbett Field was huge.

“Obviously it was a nice way to christen it, national title, but huge,” Lopez said.  

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The Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies used to play Spring Training games at Hi Corbett Field.

This season, ASU moved from Packard Stadium on campus to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the Oakland A’s used to have Spring Training.

Lopez said the move will be good for the Sun Devils and that teams nowadays have to keep up with the arms race. He said Washington and Oregon have new facilities and Oregon State upgraded its in the 2000s. 

“I talked to a buddy of mine [Wednesday] morning from Alabama,” Lopez said. “They’re building a $45 million stadium at the University of Alabama, on campus. If you don’t have $45 million to throw around at a baseball program, I don’t know how many people they do in the SEC, what a great thing.”

ASU played at Packard for 40 seasons. They played 137 games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium from 1964 to 1974, going 111-26 and 17-6 against Arizona there.

The Sun Devils are so excited about the move that they created a logo and a hashtag, #PHXMuni. ASU is 10th in the country in attendance. 

No. 24 Arizona makes its first trip to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to face the No. 9 Sun Devils this weekend.

“I’m sure Arizona State’s probably enjoying it,” Lopez said. “We’ve had a good time doing it here.”

Dalbec moves into rotation, Talley to closer

Arizona’s jack of all trades, utility player Bobby Dalbec, is taking on a new role.

Lopez said Dalbec (2-3) will now be a starting pitcher. Dalbec had a 4.34 ERA and five saves as Arizona’s closer.

“Dalbec is a guy that physically, should be able to go out there and get you five to seven innings with his stuff,” Lopez said.

Dalbec will replace Tyger Talley (3-0) in the rotation. Talley has an ERA of 4.36, but a nerve problem limits his effectiveness after a while Lopez said, so he will be the closer now. 

“He’s good for three, four innings on a weekend,” Lopez said. “The reality is that Tyger is not really effective from 35 pitches on.”

Lopez said they have toyed with Talley at closer before and Dalbec is good enough to be an ace, but it’s just that his batting is too valuable. 

Lopez said Dalbec, who leads the team in RBIs, will pitch on Monday in the third game of the series at ASU and play third base the other two games.

Lopez is, however, thinking about putting Dalbec at designated hitter when he starts too.

“I’m leaning that way, but I might just have him concentrate on pitching, we’ll see how that goes,” Lopez said.

Xavier Borde (2-0), 1.69 ERA, will replace Robby Medel (1-3), 5.40 ERA, as the number two starter. 

“Xavier has got good stuff; if there is one thing he lacks, it’s just the experience, and he’ll get it pretty quick,” Lopez said about facing the Sun Devils on the road.

Kingery still king

While Arizona got swept last weekend against USC, UA second baseman Scott Kingery still leads the NCAA in hitting, and so do the Wildcats.

Kingery is hitting .477, .20 points higher than second-place Sam Koenig of Milwaukee. 

“If you told me we would be, like, halfway through the season and he would be hitting, like, .480, I would have said ‘Come on,’” Lopez said.

The Wildcats also still lead the country in batting, at .327. Kingery is 12th in the nation in on-base percentage (.510).

“You could not tell if he was 0-for-4 or 4-for-4 over the course of a game,” Lopez said. “He just goes about it the right way.”

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Updated December 8, 2021