Tucson Super Regional Preview

June 8, 2012
Arizona, St. John’s Ready For Rare Meeting…
By CB360 Contributor Paul Fiarkoski

Kurt Heyer leads Arizona into this weekend's Tucson Super Regional. He was one of the top pitchers in the Pac-12 this season.

How do you compare two teams that have didn’t play each other or any mutual team this year? In the Tucson Super Regional this weekend, the St. John’s Red Storm will no doubt assume the underdog role this weekend in the best-of-3 series with the Arizona Wildcats.

What to expect

It’s a forgone conclusion that Arizona will have the edge considering daytime highs are forecasted to soar into the triple digits and they’ll be playing in their own backyard. Plus, they have plenty more experience versus big-time baseball schools. Arizona made it to the College World Series in 2004 and 14 times previously.

Given the east coast origin of St. John’s  (Queens, NY) over 2,500 miles away, we might expect St. John’s players to wilt in the hot desert sun. But let’s not forget how they got here: by defeating the #6-national seed North Carolina Tar Heels two games in a row in the regional tourney.

Arizona enters the series with a 41-17 record, having won 11 of their past 13 games.

St. John’s record of 40-21 is accented by a strong run in the postseason and seven straight wins over teams such as Notre Dame, Southern Florida and East Carolina in addition to the two wins over national seed North Carolina.

CLICK HERE to see the complete schedule of this weekend’s Super Regional games, including television assignments.

Who to watch

St. John’s: Frank Schwindel went 5-for-5 at the plate in last week’s Regional-clinching win over North Carolina. Danny Bethea’s game-ending home run gave the Red Storm a 5-4 upset win over North Carolina the day before that.

Matt Wessinger (.353, 6 HR, 47 RBIs .934 OPS), Sean O’Hare (.346, 3 HR, 42 RBIs) and Jeremy Baltz (.345, 8 HR, 51 RBIs, .968 OPS) are the top three hitters for the Red Storm offense.

The Red Storm pounded out 38 hits in three games in the Regional sweep in Chapel Hill. The Regional title is the first for Ed Blankmeyer’s program since 1980.

Arizona:  Kurt Heyer (12-3, 2.03 ERA) fired a complete game in the Regional-opening win over Missouri, while James Farris (7-3, 4.18 ERA) tossed his third complete game of the season in the 16-3 Regional-clincher over Louisville. Heyer leads the Pac-12 with seven complete games this season. Konnor Wade (8-3, 4.69 ERA) was an inning shy of a CG in Saturday’s victory over Louisville, meaning the Wildcats sent only four pitchers to the mound in last week’s three games.

The Wildcats scored 15, 16 and 16 runs in their three Regional games last week in Tucson. They totaled 58 hits in the process.

Johnny Field leads an offense that has a .333 batting average and .455 slugging percentage this season. He is batting .389 with 17 doubles, seven triples and three home runs.

The team batting average ranks fourth in the nation, while Arizona’s 34 triples ranks fourth and their 122 doubles ranks 19th.

Amazingly, last Friday’s game vs. Missouri was Arizona’s first home postseason game in 20 years.

About the series

The first two games of the best-of-3 series will be held at high noon (3 pm ET) Friday and Saturday on Tucson’s historic Hi Corbett Field. If a third game is necessary, first pitch will be at 1 p.m. (4 pm ET) on Sunday. Follow the progress of the game via Twitter feed on Collegebaseball360.com or at www.twitter.com/cb360updates.

Should the Red Storm win two of this weekend’s games, they will no doubt capture the attention of the media and fans at the College World Series in Omaha next week. St. John can count on a lot of red in the stands if they make it to Omaha, considering College World Series fans largely consist of residents of the Omaha area, known for being fervent supporters of the Nebraska Cornhuskers (aka Big Red) and CWS underdogs.

2012 Tucson Super Regional

Sac Bunts
St. John's(40-21)Big East.2876.327/54.376.37992-117.9613.82315458200.248

The Road To Omaha leads to TD Ameritrade Park and The Dugout – located right across the street from TDA’s home plate entrance. The Dugouthas a ton of authentic college baseball caps – just like the ones the players wear on the field.

If you’re going to Omaha for the College World Series make sure to make your first stop The Dugout for all officially licensed CWS apparel. If you can’t make it to Omaha just follow our red links to The Dugout!

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