FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
Game 1, Today: Arizona vs. Mississippi State, 3 p.m., MST, ESPN2
Game 2, Saturday: Arizona vs. Mississippi State, 3 p.m., MST, ESPNU
Game 3 (if needed), Sunday: Arizona vs. Mississippi State, 3 p.m., MST, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Information from the Arizona media relations department contributed to this report.
SUPER REGIONAL NOTES
• The Arizona Wildcats have advanced to the Super Regionals for the fourth time in program history and will face sixth-seeded Mississippi State today in Starksville, Miss.
• Senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Bannister went 2-0 in Regional Play and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Regional. Former Sahuaro standout Cesar Salazar, Ryan Aguilar, Bobby Dalbec and Zach Gibbons joined him the All-Tournament Team.
• Arizona is the definition of a road warrior: Since May 19, Arizona has traveled 12,177 miles and played 13 games in four different stadiums. The Wildcats have posted 16 away wins so far this season, establishing a new program record. The previous record was 15 road wins in 2005.
• The Cats and Bulldogs will meet for the third straight season. Arizona won two in Tucson in 2014 and Mississippi State won a pair from the Wildcats in Starkville in 2015.
• For the first time in program history, Arizona won a Game 7 of a Regional last weekend, topping Louisiana 3-1 in the winner-take-all Regional Championship on Monday night. The Cats were the only road team to win a regional, coming from the losers bracket. Dalbec, while pitching seven innings on the mound, led the team with a .462 batting average in regional play, going 6 for 13 in four starts. Cody Ramer hit .389 for the regional, going 7 for 18 with four RBI. Shortstop Louis Boyd also enjoyed a strong weekend, going 4 for 13 at the plate (.308) and leading the team with three sacrifice hits. Ramer also showed by he’s an exceptional defender, handling all 26 chances that came his way. On the mound, Bannister, Kevin Ginkel and Cameron Ming all posted ERAs of 2.25 or better.
👀 PLAYER TO WATCH! 👀
Nathan Bannister, Arizona
Regional Stats: 2 W, 14.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 SO pic.twitter.com/iyTjdlrk69
• Bannister leads the team in innings pitched (126.2), strikeouts (93), complete games (3) and starts (17). He is 11-2 with a 2.63 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting just .200 against him this season and he’s holding left-handed hitters to a .181 average. They have only 40 hits in 221 at-bats. He’s also holding hitters to a .160 clip with two outs (23-144) and a .205 average with runners on base. Bannister’s .201 batting average against is the best by an Arizona starter in at least 20 years. Since going to the Super Regional format in 1999, Bannister is third Arizona pitcher to start two games in a regional, joining Kurt Heyer in 2011 and John Meloan in 2005. He’s the first two win two games in a regional. Heyer went 0-2 and Meloan went 1-1.
When @ArizonaBaseball needed a hero on the hill, they tapped Kevin Ginkel.
• Ginkel, a right-hander, threw 16 innings the first two months of the season, but since April 26, the Southwestern Junior College (California) product has tossed 38 1/3 innings, earning three wins and two saves. Ginkel has been valuable to the Cats both as a starter and reliever. His emergence began April 26, when he tossed a two-hit shutout at Arizona State in a midweek, non-conference game. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and faced just two batters over the minimum in the game. In the Lafayette Regional, Ginkel pitched nine innings, allowing just one run and six hits, while striking out five. He posted a 1-0 record with a save, holding opposing batters to a .194 average. For the season, Ginkel is 4-1, with a 2.82 ERA in 54 1/3 innings.
• Arizona posted a staff ERA this season of 3.48, which is the lowest since the Cats pitching staff posted a 3.25 ERA in 1976, which resulted in National Championship No. 1 under Jerry Kindall. After its first Pac-12 series this season, Arizona had a staff ERA of 4.58. Since, the Cats have cut more than a run off that with its 3.48 ERA entering the postseason.
• Dalbec, a junior third baseman/pitcher, continues to prove he’s one of the best two-way players in the nation. On the mound, Dalbec has been dominant both as a starting pitcher and reliever. He’s made a team-high 25 appearances on the season with four starts. In last week’s Lafayette Regional, Dalbec came on in relief in the opening game against Sam Houston State and pitched a scoreless ninth, needing just seven pitches. Two days later, in an elimination game, Dalbec started against Sam Houston State again and earned the win, keeping Arizona’s season alive. At the plate, Dalbec was the team’s hottest hitter, going 6 for 13 in four starts. He had one double and one home run to post a .769 slugging percentage for the weekend. Dalbec currently has a nine-game hitting streak and has seen his batting average rise from .225 to .266 during the streak. For his career, Dalbec has 15 wins and 14 saves on the mound, to go with 23 home runs at the plate. He’s the only player in program history to post double-digit wins, saves and home runs. The slugger also has 121 career runs driven in to go with 168 hits, 105 runs scored and 34 doubles.
Cameron Ming strikes out the side. Arizona wins 3-1. Giant dog pile near first base ensues pic.twitter.com/PxJ3tTVRLy
• Ming pitched twice in the Lafayette Regional, and had one of the best performances of the season by an Arizona pitcher in the winner-take-all championship game against Louisiana. Ming entered the game in the sixth inning with two outs and a runner on second. He struck out the first batter he faced and then went on dominate the Ragin’ Cajuns lineup over 3 1/3 innings. Ming earned his first career save in the 3-1 win, giving up just one hit. He didn’t walk any batters and struck out five. He threw 39 pitches with 32 going for strikes. In four total innings in the regional, Ming held hitters to a .143 average, allowing just two hits total. For the season, Ming, a sophomore from Phoenix, is second on the team with 24 appearances and has made eight starts. He has an ERA of 3.86 in 65 1/3 innings. He’s fourth on the team with 48 strikeouts.
• Last weekend in regional play, senior right fielder Zach Gibbons collected hit No. 274 to move into fifth all-time at Arizona in career hits. He passed current Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona last weekend to move into fifth. Francona, the winner of the 1980 Golden Spikes Award, finished his career with 271 hits. Gibbons would need 14 more hits to reach Jeff Van Houten for fourth. Van Houten finished his Arizona career with 288 hits. Gibbons has played in 221 career games, which is currently tied for fifth most at Arizona with Robbie Moen.
• Cody Ramer is hitting .359, while leading the Pac-12 in runs scored (56) and triples (eight). The eight triples rank fifth in the country. Ramer has 14 doubles, two home runs and 39 RBI to go with his eight triples. He’s also stolen eight bases. He was named All-Pac-12 with Gibbons earlier this month and has enjoyed a breakout senior season. The senior second baseman is currently riding a 12-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 14 straight games. Over his last 10 games, Ramer his hitting .415 (17-41).
• Senior first baseman Ryan Aguilar was given the chance to be a regular in the lineup by head coach Jay Johnson this year and has risen to the challenge. After playing in just 26 games last season and hitting .190, Aguilar has posted a .313 batting average this season, which is third best on the team. He leads the team in doubles (21), home runs (seven) and RBIs (48), all while being a rock solid defender at first base.
• Ramer, Zach Gibbons and Aguilar all have at least 72 hits this season and JJ Matijevic has 66. The last time four or more Wildcats had at least 62 hits in one season was back in 2013 when Brandon Dixon, Johnny Field, Trent Gilbert and Kevin Newman all had at least 73. Dixon led the way with 79 and was the Pac-12 Batting Champ.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.