The Pac-12 batting title isn’t traveling far.
Arizona Wildcats junior third baseman Brandon Dixon, who finished the season Sunday at .369, has taken the title from his roommate, outfielder Johnny Field.
“One assistant coach said he should bow down and give me his belt,” Dixon said after Arizona beat USC 7-1 to complete a three-game sweep at Hi Corbett Field.
Well, actually Dixon will get a plaque for his hitting prowess, just like the one Field keeps in his room.
“He’s got it on the wall now. He had it just lying on the ground earlier,” Dixon said. “His dad was like, ‘You’ve got to put that up.’”
Dixon also led the Wildcats in home runs (six), RBIs (51) and stolen bases (30 in 37 attempts).
Now, UA (34-21 overall, 15-15 Pac-12) waits to see if it will be selected as an at-large team into the NCAA Tournament. Coach Andy Lopez is hoping he gets a few more weeks out of Dixon in an Arizona uniform, but he knows he won’t get another season.
“He’s going high,” Lopez said of Dixon’s status for next month’s baseball draft.
“He’s athletic. He has power. He can play second; he can play third; he can play left. He’s very versatile. That’s the word. And he has great make-up with his character. We won’t see Brandon here next year.”
That Dixon would be Arizona’s seventh batting champion of the Pac-10/12 era wouldn’t have seemed possible before the season.
He had only 10 at-bats as a freshman and was a part-time player on last year’s national championship team (mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement at first base), hitting .245.
Dixon ended the season in a blaze of glory, though, with a game-winning RBI double down the left-field line in the top of the ninth in the second game of the College World Series championship series against South Carolina. His hit gave Arizona a 2-1 lead. It won 4-1.
He said he never considered his transfer options after his first year in the program.
“I’m one of those guys that when you make a commitment, you stick to it,” he said. “I talked to my parents, and they felt the same way. I trust Andy. He knows what he’s doing. There was no other program I would rather play for.”
Dixon’s success has an element of stick-to-it-tiveness to it; the other part of the story has to do with his LASIK eye surgery in the offseason.
“He should do a commercial for LASIK surgery,” Lopez said.
“Because he stopped swinging at bad pitches and started reading spin and depth. I mean, c’mon, we’re not going to take credit for that.”
Even while Dixon was not playing much in his first two seasons — or as much as he might have liked — Lopez said he “never complained, worked his tail off.”
Said Dixon: “You really learn to take advantage and appreciate the success you get. Last year was as difficult as any for me, just mentally, physically, things like that, as far as the individual aspect goes. When you get a year like this … it’s a great feeling personally just to see things paying off.”
Field still might have slight bragging rights. He batted .370 last season, one point higher than Dixon’s average from this season. (Field, by the way, batted .347 this year as a junior.)
“I don’t get caught up in awards and stuff, but it’s definitely a cool thing to win,” Dixon said. “It’s cool to keep it in the program, and hopefully next year, they’ll be able to win it again.”
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Arizona’s Pac-10/Pac-12 batting champs
|2003||Jeff Van Houten||.413|
* Pac-12 South title