Arizona baseball's sweep of Stanford a change in program's trajectory

Consistently, the Arizona Wildcats have been in baseball's postseason, but early exits in the NCAA Tournament have dissolved the hope of magical runs.

Behind the scenes, however, it hasn't been as consistent. Just a few seasons ago, head coach Andy Lopez gutted his roster, hoping to get the right players on and off the diamond. In 2012, that move just might have revived a program that hasn't made the College World Series since 2004.

A weekend sweep of the then-ranked No. 2 Stanford Cardinal was a surprise to everyone, maybe even to the confident Wildcats.

"With all the national writers talking about Stanford, and how great they're perceived, and all their prospects and future millionaires …," Robert Refsnyder told Ryan Finley. "There's a lot of talent on their team. I can't think of a better sweep."

But in the grand scheme of things, this weekend was the culmination of Lopez's program making the jump from that consistent, solid Pac-12 team to elite status. Baseball America's Monday rankings came out with the Wildcats jumping from the No. 8 spot in the nation to No. 4.

Turning points in a program, and within games themselves, usually come at a negative point.

It all began with struggle in the first game of the series against the Cardinal. Down 7-4 going into the ninth inning and five of those runs coming because of five errors, a four-run final frame had Hi Corbett field rocking. The 8-7 victory in front of a crowd of nearly 4,200 was just momentum into Games 2 and 3.

After a decent day from ace Kurt Heyer, Konner Wade and James Farris went nine innings each in 4-2 and 6-2 victories respectively.

The statement series goes hand-in-hand with the move to Hi Corbett, which at first appeared to be, at least, a sound financial decision with the potential for alcohol sales. But the crowds, and the facilities, have not coincidentally come with one of the hottest teams in the nation.

The Wildcats have won five league games in a row, and at 21-7 and 7-2 in the Pac-12, are tied at the top of the conference with the UCLA Bruins.

It's still early in the season. The talent is there. Yet, expectations have changed.

Do the Wildcats have what it takes to break the trend of consistency into a magical postseason run?

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