Wildcats Omaha-Bound

Photo Credit: Emily Gauci/Arizona Athletics

1,320 miles.

That’s the distance from Tucson to Omaha. It’s a long trek, but the Wildcats won’t mind. After traveling 1,276.8 miles to Louisiana-Lafayette for the regional and 1,471.3 miles to Starkville for the super regional, what’s another 1,300 miles to play in the College World Series?

That’s exactly what the Wildcats have done this year: kept their heads down and made it work. After going 15-14 in the Pac-12, they were a 2-seed in the Lafayette regional. They had to go through the loser’s bracket and beat regional host Louisiana-Lafayette twice, but they dug their feet in and made it work.

The Cats went to Starkville for a best of three super regional series against sixth-seeded Mississippi State. After riding the arm of Bobby Dalbec for 8.2 innings, the ‘Cats escaped with a Game 1 victory, 1-0. In Game 2, Jay Johnson’s squad had to come back from a 5-1 deficit. Thanks to a three-run home run by Ryan Aguilar, they were within striking distance, trailing 5-4. After eventually tying the game, the Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th, and Cesar Salazar delivered the knockout punch to get the Wildcats to Omaha.

This is quite a turnaround head coach Jay Johnson orchestrated in his first season with the club. This is the school’s 17th appearance in the College World Series and the last time the Cats made it to Omaha, they won the national championship in 2012.

The College World Series kicks off on Saturday, June 18th. Arizona will face the winner of the Miami-Boston Collge super regional.