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College World Series preview: Arizona

 Chris Lee and Barry Allen   in Baseball

Arizona eliminated Ole Miss in the Tucson Super Regional, and now heads to college baseball's World Series. 

Photo courtesy of Mike Mattina of Arizona athletics.

Arizona Wildcats (45-16)

RPI: 8 (No. 19 strength of schedule)

League finish: Won the Pac-12

Coach: Jay Johnson (280-154, 208-111 at Arizona in 6th year)

CWS appearance: 18th

National titles: Four

The Pac 12 champions are the nation’s most prolific scoring team. The Wildcats lead the nation with 528 runs scored and have scored 10 or more runs 24 times this season. UA scored 25 runs in its two wins over Ole Miss in the Super Regionals and are averaging 8.2 runs per game in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona has scored in 170 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the conference.

Arizona won the outright Pac 12 championship this season for the first time since 1992. It was the school’s 10th conference title. The 21 conference wins are the second most in program history.

One of the storylines of the College World Series will be Arizona’s offense vs. Vanderbilt’s pitching staff, especially sure fire first-round selections Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.

In addition to leading the nation in runs scored, Arizona leads the county in hits (712), doubles (138) and triples (29). Their home ballpark Hi Corbett Field is spacious and plays similar to TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

Vanderbilt allowed just one run in its two Super Regional wins over East Carolina. The Commodores lead the nation in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.97) and WHIP (1.07).

The lineup: (Runs created per 27 outs per a Bill James formula. The Wildcats will face Vandy right-hander Kumar Rocker in Game One.)

1. Donta Williams (L), CF (12.4) vs. RHP: .318/.468/.541

2. Jacob Berry (B), DH (12.2) vs. RHP: .368/.449/.675

3. Branden Boissiere (L), 1B (9.9) vs. RHP: .347/.423/.447

4. Daniel Susac (R), C (8.3) vs. RHP: .302/.366/.491

5. Kobe Kato (L), 2B (10.0) vs. RHP: .357/.475/.494

6. Tony Bullard (R), 2B (8.1) vs. RHP: .274/.343/.484

7. Ryan Holgate (L), RF (10.0) vs. RHP: .388/.451/.541

8. Tanner O'Tremba (R), LF (7.7) vs. RHP: .312/.400/.542

9. Nik McClaughry (R), SS (6.6) vs. RHP: .292/.394/.358

Arizona is not deep on offense using only 12 players for the majority of the season, but nine of the 12 players are hitting .300 or better.

Berry, Susac and Holgate have provided the power with 39 combined home runs. Berry is second in the Pac 12 with home runs, while Susac ranks seventh with 12 home runs. Holgate has 10 home runs, giving UA a trio of double-digit home run hitters.

Berry’s 17 home runs and 70 RBIs are the most among CWS participants. He led the Pac 12 total bases (151) and triples (5) and was second in the league in slugging percentage (.692).

Williams had a fantastic Super Regional against Ole Miss. He went 8-for-14 with seven runs scored, two doubles, one home run and six RBIs. He led off the Super Regional with a home run added the game one win with a 3-run double in the eighth inning. The dangerous leadoff hitter leads the Pac 12 with 80 runs scored (2nd in NCAA) and 50 walks (6th in NCAA).

Boissiere leads the Pac 12 and ranks fifth in the NCAA with 92 hits. He had 10 hits in the Super Regional with Ole Miss, including a pair of 4-hit games. He went 4-for-6 with three runs scored, one double, one home run and five RBIs in the decisive game three win over the Rebels.


SP1: Chase Silseth (R) 91 IP, 8-1, 5.54 ERA, 1.60 base runners per inning, 14% free pass rate, 36% K

SP2: Garrett Irvin (L) 86 IP, 6-3, 4.19 ERA, 1.45 BRIP, 9% FP, 19%K

SP3: Chandler Murphy (R) 62 IP, 7-0, 3.63 ERA, 1.55 BRIP, 11% FP, 22% K

SP4: TJ Nichols (R) 58.1 IP, 6-3, 4.94 ERA, 1.46 BRIP, 14% FP, 25% K

CL: Vince Vanelle (R) 31.1 IP, 5-2, 8 sv, 2.59 ERA, 1.37 BRIP, 9% FP, 26% K

RP1: Dawson Netz (R) 32.2 IP, 0-0, 4.41 ERA, 1.19 BRIP, 11% FP, 26% K

RP2* Gil Luna (L) 21.1 IP, 1-0, 1 sv, 1.69 ERA, 1.17 BRIP, 14% FP, 36% K

RP3: Riley Cooper (R) 30.1 IP, 3-0, 5.04 ERA, 1.42 BRIP, 13% FP 16% K

RP4* Randy Abshier (L) 21.2 IP, 4-0, 1 sv, 2.91 ERA, 1.62 BRIP, 14% FP, 27% K

RP5: Quinn Flanagan (R) 35.1 IP, 0-4, 4 sv, 3.82 ERA. 1.64 BRIP, 15% FP, 25% K

RP6: Preston Price (R) 21 IP, 1-1, 3 sv, 1.57 ERA, 1.19 BRIP, 15% FP, 40% K

RP7: Austin Smith (R) 26.1 IP, 2-1, 5.47, 1.71 BRIP, 15% BB, 19% K 

Luna and Abshier were suspended by the school before the super regional after an off-campus incident which violated the school's code of conduct. As of Wednesday, coach Jay Johnson doesn't know whether they'll play in Omaha

Silseth and Irvin tied for the Pac 12 lead with17 starts on the mound this season. Irvin was named the MVP of the Tucson Regional after a complete-game, three hit shutout in the 4-0 win over UC Santa Barbara. He finished with 10 strikeouts. He didn’t fare so well against Ole Miss as he allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings in the loss to the Rebels.

Murphy has had good numbers as the No. 3 starter this season.  He tossed five innings en route to his seventh win of the season in the Tucson Regional final against UC Santa Barbara. He did not pitch in the Super Regional against Ole Miss.

Netz was the game three starter against the Rebels.  It was his first start of the season after 24 relief appearances. Netz worked two innings against Ole Miss.

The Arizona bullpen posted two wins in the NCAA Super Regional.  The relievers held the Rebels to two runs in 11 1/3 innings in the two wins.

Vannelle (8), Flanagan (4) and Price (3) are responsible for 15 of the team’s 17 saves. Vannelle ranks fourth in the Pac 12 with those 12 saves, while Flanagan ranks ninth.