BASEBALL

Baseball: Arizona 18, Alabama State 3: Wildcats keep focus, easily wrap up sweep

2013-04-29T00:00:00Z Baseball: Arizona 18, Alabama State 3: Wildcats keep focus, easily wrap up sweepDaniel Berk Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Playing in the Pac-12, coach Andy Lopez and the Arizona Wildcats see some of the country's best competition week in, week out.

But the 12th-year coach will, with a straight face, tell you there's not a more stressful weekend all season than the one the Wildcats just completed against Alabama State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Seriously.

"This weekend is more of a strain than any other weekend I've coached over the last eight or nine (weeks)," Lopez said. "It's not a Pac-12 weekend and I don't care how many times you tell these guys that, they're not ignorant."

So when his squad finished off a three-game sweep of the Hornets with a convincing 18-3 win Sunday at Hi Corbett Field, Lopez was feeling pretty darn good.

"I'm going to go home tonight and sleep great," Lopez said.

Junior third baseman Brandon Dixon went 5 for 6 with three RBIs and three runs scored, while Johnny Field, Trent Gilbert, Zach Gibbons, Kevin Newman, Scott Kingery and Joe Maggi each contributed two or more RBIs.

The Wildcats (28-14) scored in every inning they batted in for the first time in more than five years, and their 18 runs marked a new season high.

"I was really happy with our offense," Lopez said. "We came out today and just got right after it."

It wasn't like that all weekend.

The Wildcats got their three wins, but also learned they have plenty to work on over the final 13 games of the season.

Lopez's squad won on a walk-off error Saturday against the Hornets (27-22) in the 10th inning and was outhit in Friday's 8-2 win.

The Wildcats will look to keep their newfound winning streak going on Tuesday when they host Arizona State in a nonconference matchup at Hi Corbett.

"I think it's good to get these three wins under our belt going into the ASU game," Maggi said. "It was a good time for us to settle down and get some things to work on and take it to the next Pac series.

"Coach is talking about how it's not a marathon anymore and this was the beginning of the sprint to the end, so it's good to start it with three wins."

The message in the days leading up to the series with the Hornets was to approach the three games like you would Arizona State, UCLA or any of the Pac-12 powers.

It's obviously easier said than done.

"We're always focused on the game we have that day, but it is kinda tough against a team that's not as intense as a Pac school," Maggi said. "We just had to keep the same mentality and focus on execution and things were going to work out."

The execution Sunday was nearly perfect. Sophomore left-hander Tyler Crawford earned the win, pitching six effective innings, and freshman Cody Moffett threw three hitless innings to earn a save in the 15-run win.

The victory was the UA's 10th straight at Hi Corbett and improved the Wildcats to 13-3 in their last 16 games.

Field hit his fifth home run of the season and has reached base in 29 straight games.

The junior outfielder is hitting .470 over the last 16 games and had no problem playing with intensity and focus against the Hornets.

"The whole season is going to be a grind, so you can't come in and take it a little easy this weekend," Field said.

Inside pitch

• Catcher Riley Moore didn't play Sunday, but Lopez said it wasn't because of the shoulder injury the junior was dealing with earlier in the month, and instead was just a day off.

• The Wildcats pinch hit for Gilbert in the fifth inning, with Arizona leading 11-1. Lopez said his second baseman is still dealing with some discomfort in his ankle but will be good to go Tuesday for the Sun Devils.

Up next

• Who: Arizona State at Arizona

• When: 6 p.m., Tuesday

• Radio: 1290-AM

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