OMAHA, Neb. — Arizona feels right at home at spacious TD Ameritrade Park.
The Wildcats moved this season from their campus stadium to cavernous Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. Like Hi Corbett, TD Ameritrade places a premium on pitching and defense and rewards hitters who can find gaps.
The Wildcats' 20 home runs are the fewest of any team in the College World Series, and they hit just eight of them at Hi Corbett.
Hi Corbett's dimensions are 366 feet down the left-field line, 349 to right and 392 to center. The power alleys are 410 in left and 405 in right.
TD Ameritrade isn't quite as big but is still larger than most college stadiums. New bat standards have reduced offense, and even the best-hit balls are subject to being kept in the stadium by a south wind that blows in most days.
Coach Andy Lopez said his batters have had to change their mentality this season and shorten their swings. They're fourth in the nation with their .329 batting average, third in triples with 35 and 10th in doubles with 129.
Lopez said Hi Corbett also has helped his team become sharper on defense. Konner Wade induced 14 groundball outs while pitching a complete-game shutout against UCLA on Sunday night, and the Wildcats committed no errors.
The heat in Tucson hardens the Hi Corbett infield, which means grounders come at fielders fast.
"When you come to a facility like this and it's soft, it's kind of nice," Lopez said. "I think it plays to our advantage defensively."
Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean said he doesn't have to play on edge when he's on the softer infield at TD Ameritrade.
"I get some hard shots at my head at Hi Corbett," he said. "It just slows the game down a lot for us. Especially with Konner pitching, he's a groundball pitcher. It just really helps us, it's real soft and we get to play catch."
Lopez wanted to move to Hi Corbett to improve the Wildcats' chances of landing home regionals and super regionals. The Wildcats had been in regional finals six of the previous eight years, all on the road.
Playing at home in the NCAA tournament this year for the first time since 1992, the Wildcats won three straight in regionals and then beat St. John's in a two-game super regional.
After beating Florida State and UCLA, the Wildcats are one win away from the best-of-three finals.
METS TO HONOR SEAWOLVES: The New York Mets have invited the Stony Brook baseball team to Citi Field on Tuesday to be honored for its run to the College World Series.
The Seawolves will be on hand for batting practice and to meet some of the Mets players. A short ceremony will be held before the first pitch of the game against Baltimore.
Stony Brook is coming off its best season in history with a nation-leading 52 wins and a super-regional upset of LSU on the road. The Seawolves went two games and out in Omaha, getting outscored a combined 21-3 by UCLA and Florida State.
8 MILLION FANS: An Omaha couple and their daughters got the royal treatment as the 8th millionth fans to attend the College World Series.
Cliff and Myrna Hopkins and their daughters, Leah and Emma, were taken aside as they entered Gate 3 at TD Ameritrade Park for Sunday's Florida State-Stony Brook game. The family was escorted from the general admission line to their seats behind the third-base dugout.
They were presented gifts from CWS of Omaha Inc., after the second inning.
It took 26 years (1947-1972) for the CWS to reach 1 million fans. The event, which has been played in Omaha since 1950, needed only three years to go from 7 million to 8 million fans.
SHORT HOPS: It was 95 degrees at the start of Monday's Florida-Kent State game. That made it the warmest first pitch at the CWS since June 11, 2001. Before Monday, Kent State hadn't played a game in weather warmer than 82 degrees all season. ... Sunday's UCLA-Arizona game marked the first time since at least the 1999 season that the first 22 batters of a CWS game all went down in order. ... Andy Lopez recorded his 400th coaching victory at the Arizona with the win over UCLA. ... Konner Wade threw the first complete-game shutout without a walk at the CWS Arizona State's Craig Swan blanked Temple in 1972. ... . Florida State's Mike Compton is the first freshman in Division I to win 12 games since TCU's Matt Purke went 16-0 in 2010. Only 10 Division I freshmen have reached 12 wins since 2002.