The Wildcats are swinging hot bats in the first two games of the regionals. They finished with 23 hits against Louisville, coming a night after having 20 hits against Missouri. It was the first time since 2009, against Liberty, that the Wildcats had back-to-back 20-hit games.
In the first two games of the regional, Arizona scored a total of 31 runs. It was the most since the Wildcats scored 35 in the first two games of a regional in 1986, the last year that they won a National Championship. They scored double digit runs in both games, something that impressed everyone, even Louisville Head Coach Dan McDonnell. A few people that weren't surprised by the run total were the Arizona players.
"With our offense, we are capable of anything, to be honest," Alex Mejia said. "We have a real potent offense. A lot of our guys swing the bat real well. When we get going, we put up a lot of runs and tonight we did a real good job of that."
Arizona started slow, but began heating up in the third inning, scoring five runs and taking the lead. Reggie Moore started the inning off on first base after getting hit by a pitch. He scored on a Joey Rickard single and error by the center fielder. Johnny Field tripled and Alex Mejia doubled to give Arizona the lead it never relinquished.
Louisville jumped out to an early lead, scoring a run in the first. The damage could have been much worse, but Konner Wade got Zak Wasserman to foul out to get out of a bases-loaded jam. Stewart Ijames singled to center field and plated Nick Ratajczak who started the rally with a 1-out single of his own. Wade was also helped out in the inning when Ty Young was thrown out at home following a wild pitch.
The Wildcats added on to their lead in the 5th when Reggie Moore looped a ball over the 3rd baseman's head, scoring Bobby Brown from second base. Moore later scored on Rickard double bringing the score to 7-1.
Arizona put the game away for good in the top of the 7th, scoring seven runs and answering the two runs that the Cardinals got in the bottom of the 6th. The inning was capped when Brandon Dixon, who replaced Joseph Maggi at first base in the bottom of the sixth, smashed a three-run homerun to left field. It was the first home run of the regional for any team and also Dixon's first of the season.
The Wildcat offense was fueled by Alex Mejia, who went 5-for-5 on the night. He had two doubles, scoring 4 times and finishing with three runs batted in. However, Mejia was more concerned about his defense in the game, placing some blame on himself for the early run int eh 1st inning.
"It's kind of watered down tonight because I was focusing on my defense," Mejia said. "It's something I really take pride in and that first inning I kind of put Konner (Wade) in some trouble.
"There was a ball up the middle, that I didn't attack when I should have and I played it back and it got by me. It should've been an inning ending double play."
Wade was called on to start the game for the Wildcats and came out a little shaky. He got out of the early jam in the first inning and was solid, pitching 8 innings and grabbing a victory, improving his record to 8-3 on the season and 1-0 in the post season. Wade gave up 4 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits. He walked 2 and had 5 strikeouts.
Wade started off rocky, getting into trouble in the first inning, but calmed down afterwards. He threw 27 pitches in the first inning and then only needed 24 to get through the next 3 frames.
"I came out too excited," Wade said. "I needed to take a breath and slow down. After that I settled down and tried to pitch to contact."
He was relieved by Tyler Crawford in the ninth after allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning. Crawford came on and finished the game allowing a hit and striking out 2 in an innings worth of work.
Freshman Jared Ruxer got the start for the Cardinals. He was strong for the first 2 innings, but got into trouble early in the third and never recovered. He gave up 5 runs on seven hits. He had a hit-batsman. He took the loss, which dropped him to 8-3 on the season and 0-1 for the tournament.
Ruxer was replaced by right hander Dace Kime. He was also getting it done through the first couple batters he faced, but ran into trouble after two innings of work. Ruxer gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in two and two-third innings. He walked 2 and had a lone strike out.
Nick Burdi was brought on in relief and wasn't quite as good as his predecessors. He went an inning and two-thirds, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits.
Cody Ege finished the game for the Cardinals, pitching 2 and a third innings, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits.
Louisville and Missouri will play Sunday afternoon at 4 PM. The winner will be rewarded with a rematch against the Wildcats at 8 PM.