The Arizona Wildcats baseball team made another step in winning the Tucson Regional on Saturday, routing the Louisville Cardinals 16-4 at Hi Corbett Field to advance to Sunday's championship game.
Coming a day after Andy Lopez's team's 15-3 victory against the No. 4 seed Missouri Tigers, the No. 1 seed Wildcats pulled out another 20-plus hit game with 23 hits to help pitcher Konner Wade to a victory. Wade went eight innings and gave up four runs on 10 hits.
All-American Alex Mejia led the offense with five hits and three RBI, and Arizona, like in Friday's win, took a few innings to get going.
Falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the Wildcats (40-17) exploded in the third inning with five runs and scored three more before the Cardinals put two more on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning. But in the seventh frame, Arizona put the game out of reach with seven runs.
Now, the Wildcats await the winner from the losers bracket. Louisville, a No. 3 seed, will play Missouri for a chance to take on Arizona in the championship game at 8 p.m. PT on Sunday.
And as of now, it appears the Wildcats are one of the teams hitting their stride at the right time. As I talked about in our video blog on Friday, the Wildcats hosting the regional was a great way to build momentum to succeed at what will, in any case, be a tough NCAA Super Regional.
Per Ryan Finley, the two big-time victories to begin the postseason are not only wins, but message-sending ones at that.
"Those guys are locked in," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "They seem to be putting up 12 hits and double-digit runs on a consistent basis.
"You put up double-digit runs and double-digit hits in a regional, you're doing it against some of the better teams in the country."
- According to Ryan Finley, the Wildcats were being watched at Hi Corbett by boxing great Muhammad Ali, who is a Louisville native.