Arizona baseball enjoying life on the road
OMAHA, Neb. -- Arizona has traveled more than 14,000 miles and played 16 games in six stadiums since May 19.
The Wildcats say they're anything but road weary. The way they started the College World Series, they looked energized.
"I think over the last month our team's really grown closer together," pitcher Nathan Bannister said after the Wildcats defeated Miami 5-1 Saturday. "We started in Eugene, Oregon, then went to Hawaii and Lafayette (La.) and so forth. That really just gave us a chance to lose any attachments to home or road and really just focus on the game of baseball and what we need to do day in, day out to perform."
Arizona began its odyssey with losses in its first two games at Oregon. Since then the Wildcats have won 13 of 14 and are 22-14 in games play away from Tucson. They meet Oklahoma State in a Bracket 1 winners' game against Oklahoma State on Monday night (4 p.m. Arizona time).
"It's just getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. That's common sense," center fielder Jared Oliva said. "On the road four, five weeks in a row, it's not easy at all. But we feel we've developed a good routine, and Coach has done a great job making sure we stick with it. By that time, it's just a matter of focusing on baseball. Everything is done, all the drama set aside, and we're just focused on the road playing the game and sticking to our thing."
First-year coach Jay Johnson said it helped greatly that the trip to Oregon came after final exams.
"These guys take academics seriously, and they care about it, so that's one stressor that's been off their brain," Johnson said. "They like to sleep like all 18- to 22-year-olds, and we stay in pretty nice hotels. They cook breakfast for you every morning. So in some ways I think that those two things have helped and have been an advantage."
Miami coach Jim Morris said a team can rally around being on the road.
"Whoever gets hot. These guys are hot," Morris said. "They've been on the road 20 days to get to this thing. They played in some tough situations, and to be able to get to where they're at. And they're really believing in themselves. They're well coached, and they're good players and they hit line drives. Boy, that's what it takes."