Citizen Staff Writer
TEMPE – The 13th-ranked University of Arizona baseball team is ready to enter another dimension when the NCAA regional playoffs start next week.
Where and which teams the Wildcats will play is still to be determined after UA rallied for nine runs in the seventh inning to beat Arizona State 14-5 on Friday.
“When they tell you what you’re doing, it’s a whole new world,” UA coach Andy Lopez said about the Wildcats finding out their regional site.
“It doesn’t matter where you play. You have to get it done when it counts,” UA outfielder Jon Gaston said. “If we end up wherever, we still have to win. If we end up at home we have to win. We just have to win.”
Arizona could have solidified its position as a host school by winning at least two games at Packard Stadium, but failing to do so has left the decision in the hands of the NCAA selection committee.
The Wildcats still have a good chance of playing at home if they finish in sole possession of second place, which they will if Oregon State wins two out of three games against UCLA this weekend.
“We certainly deserve it. But will we get it? Who knows?” Lopez said about hosting.
The Wildcats might have an unlikely ally in ASU coach Pat Murphy, who is on the committee.
Murphy was scheduled to leave after the game to begin the process. The host sites will be announced around noon on Sunday. The tournament brackets will be announced at 9:30 a.m. Monday on ESPN.
“I’m going to try to go there and make sure that they look at every team in the West and hopefully show the committee how good baseball is out here,” Murphy said.
The Pac-10 traditionally struggles to get a large number of teams in the field of 64. There are 16 regional sites with four teams in each regional.
Arizona is safely in the field, but it could wind up anywhere.
SEbaseball.com has the Wildcats as a No. 2 seed heading to Charlottsville, Va., to play in a regional with top-seed Virginia, Rutgers and Old Dominion.
Rivals.com’s projection early this week had the Wildcats heading to Austin, Texas, to play in regional with the No. 1 seed Texas Longhorns, Oral Roberts and Rutgers.
CATS IN POSTSEASON
How the UA baseball team has fared in the NCAA Tournament since 1974 (years Arizona hosted NCAA regional in bold face):
Year – Advanced to
2005 Fullerton (Calif.) regional
2004 College World Series
2003 Fullerton (Calif.) regional
1999 Waco (Texas) regional
1993 Stillwater (Okla.) regional
1992 Tucson regional
1989 Tucson regional
1987 Tempe regional
1986 NCAA champion
1985 College World Series
1980 NCAA champion
1979 College World Series
1978 Los Angeles regional
1976 NCAA champion
1975 Los Angeles regional
1974 Greenley (Colo.) regional
Sunday: NCAA regional sites announced
Monday: NCAA regional brackets announced, 9:30 a.m., ESPN