Arizona Baseball To Open Season against New Mexico This Weekend
Jan. 23, 2002
On The Air:The season opener against New Mexico can be heard live in Tucson on 790 AM KNST. There will be no Internet broadcast of the game. Game times are 3 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday
First Up - New Mexico: In a rivalry that dates back to 1917, Arizona and New Mexico will lock horns for the 12th straight season, Jan.25-27, in Tucson. Arizona leads the all-time series 122-28 and has won the last 14 consecutive games played between the two schools, include three games last season. The Lobos went 26-34 in 2001 and 14-16 in the Mountain West Conference. UNM lost eight position players from last season's team, but return seven of its nine pitchers. The top two players to return for the Lobos are right-handed pitcher Jeremy DeYapp (4-3, 4.32 ERA, 58 K's) and second baseman Troy Cairns, Jr. (.349, 26 2B, 32 RBI). Rich Alday, the coach who started the baseball program at Pima C.C. in Tucson in 1973, returns for his 13th season in Albuquerque. Entering the season, Alday has posted 845-552-2 record in 29 years of coaching and a 349-332-2 record at New Mexico.
Pitching ProbablesFri. - Sean Rierson (7-4, 4.67 ERA in 2001) vs. James Vermilyea (4-1, 7.29 ERA in 2001)Sat. - Joe Little (4-0, 5.19 ERA in 2001) vs. Aaron Smith (JC Transfer)Sun. - Marc Kaiser (8-6, 5.35 ERA in 2001) vs. Jeremy DeYapp (4-3, 4.32 ERA in 2001)
Arizona's 14-game Winning Streak Over The Lobos: After dropping the opener of a three game set 7-3 to the Lobos in 1997, the Wildcats have reeled off 14 straight wins over their neighbors to the east. UA has outscored UNM 144-59 over the 14-game stretch and have shut them out once. There have been two, one-run games (5-4 in 1999 and 9-8 in 1998) during Arizona's run and the Wildcats largest victory came in 1998 with a 21-8 victory on Jan. 31, their second largest run total in a game that season.
Arizona on Opening Day: Dating back to 1904, the Wildcats are 70-24-1 in season opening games and carry an eight game winning streak on opening day dating back to 1994. New Mexico, Arizona's opening day opponent this season, has been victimized three times during the current winning streak. However, the Lobos were also the last team to defeat the Wildcats to open the season, scoring a 10-4 victory over UA in 1993.
A New Beginning: For just the fifth time in 80 years, the Arizona baseball team will play under the direction of a new head coach. Two-time national coach of the year Andy Lopez was hired last July to elevate the Wildcat program back among the nationally elite teams. Lopez becomes just the 15th head coach in school history (since 1904) and just the fifth since 1922. Lopez has proven throughout his 19 year coaching career to have the formula for success. One of only seven active coaches with a national title to his credit, he guided Pepperdine to the 1992 NCAA national championship, the only team title in school history, and he twice took Florida to the College World Series in Omaha. His teams have won eight conference titles and have advanced to the postseason in nine of the past 13 years. Heading into the 2002 season his career record stands at 687-418-6 (.618).
New Head Coaches Fare Well For Arizona: 2002 will mark the 99th season of Arizona baseball. During that time the Wildcats have had a grand total of 14 head coaches in school history and have gone an impressive 9-4-1 (.679) in the first game that the team has played under a new skipper. Jerry Stitt (1997), Frank Sancet (1950), 'Pop' McKale (1915), W.A. Porter (1920), R.L Quigley (1913), William Honley (1911), Dan Farrish (1909), B.R. Hatcher (1906) and B.L. Cosgrove (1904) all emerged victorious in their respective first games at Arizona. However, a loss in a coaching debut at UA does not necessarily mean doom. Jerry Kindall's first team dropped the inaugeral game he coached, 2-1, to UCLA in 1973. All Kindall went on to do after that was win three national championships and record the most victories in school history by any coach. All seven coaches that led Arizona for more than than one season finished their first year with a .500 or better record (Newton 2-2, Hatcher 2-0, Porter 11-4, McKale 5-3, Sancet 28-6-1, Kindall 37-16, Stitt 32-26).
What's In Store For The Spring: The Wildcats return six starters and 10 pitchers from the 2001 team that narrowly missed out on postseason play with a 33-23 overall record.
Who's Back:Brian Anderson - CF/Closer - .370 avg., 40 runs, 9 2B, 6 3B, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 8 SB10.1 IP, 1-1, 2.61 ERA, 3 Saves, 8 BB, 11 KJustyn St. Clair - LF/3B - .274 avg., 27 runs, 7 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 7 SBBrad Hassey - SS - .283 avg., 60 runs, 9 2B, 5 3B, 28 RBI, 12 SBMoises Duran - 2B - .247avg., 15 runs, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIKen Riley - C - .288 avg., 18 runs, 4 2B, 15 RBI, 4 SBChris Cunningham - C - Played in only 13 games due to injury rehab.Marc Kaiser - 3B/RHP - .436, 9 runs, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBI101 IP, 8-6, 5.35 ERA, 57 BB, 70 KSean Rierson - RHP - 100.1 IP, 7-4, 4.66 ERA, 21 BB, 66 KJoe Little - LHP - 50.1 IP, 4-0, 5.19 ERA, 2 Saves, 12 BB, 36 KChris Goodman - RHP - 60.0 IP, 3-2, 6.30 ERA, 16 BB, 41 KTony Sulser - RHP - 27 appearances, 40.2 IP, 3-1, 1 Save, 4.87 ERA, 21 BB, 39 K
There are also 11 newcomers, many of whom will be expected to play vital roles for the Wildcats right away.
New For '02:Will Thompson - 1BJohn Hardy - 3B/SSChris Marini - OFJeff Van Houten - OFRyan Wilmer - 1BRichard Mercado - CJason Snyder - RHPWill Miller - RHPClarence Farmer - OFSean Jones - 3BKevin Anderson - OF
Dual Threat: 2001 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American Brian Anderson has the potential to become one of the top dual threats in the Pac-10 Conference this season. The super soph has already shown his offensive prowess in turning out one of the all-time greatest freshman performances at the plate last season. Anderson, who hit well over .400 in Arizona's final 20 games last year, is the Wildcats' top returning threat on offense. In fact, his .370 batting average and .552 slugging percentage last season were third best for any Arizona freshman in school history. Anderson also roams the spacious outfield at Sancet Field and covers the deep gaps with his speed. He committed only a pair of errors in the outfield last season in 130 attempts and also posted four outfield assists. What most people don't realize is that along with his offensive and defensive exploits, the Tucson native will also serve as the Wildcats closer on the mound this year. Deep into the 2001 season, Anderson was called in from his centerfield position to put out fires in the late innings of games. Twice he worked out of bases-loaded, no out jams (at Arizona State and Stanford no less), he tallied three saves and one victory in only 10.1 innings. He baffeled hitters to the extent that he averaged better than a strikeout per inning pitched.
The Usual Suspect: Anderson's classmate Marc Kaiser will also take on a pair of roles this year. The second-year Wildcat established himself as one of the top freshman starters ever in 2001. Asked to pitch against the likes of future top 10 picks Mark Prior and Josh Karp, Kaiser still managed to tie former Wildcat and No.17 overall pick by the Dodgers Ben Diggins for second on the freshman records list with eight victories. He threw the fourth most innings for a freshman starter ever (101 IP) and his 70 punchouts were the third most ever for a first-year hurler. In addition to his time on the mound, Coach Lopez and the Wildcats will also count on his bat on offense. Getting only a limited chance to swing the stick last year, Kaiser impressed when he did so. In only 39 at bats he collected 17 hits (.436 avg.) and scored nine times. Kaiser will see action this year at third base and as the DH before taking his turn in the pitching rotation.
The Seniors: The Arizona roster is dominated by underclassmen, 22 freshman and sophomores, but there are eight seniors on the 2002 that will definetly have some say in the way Arizona's games will turn out. Starting shortstop Brad Hassey finished the 2001 season with 60 runs scored out of the leadoff position while hitting .283. Likely joining Hassey in the starting lineup this year will be infielder/outfielder Justyn St. Clair and catcher Chris Cunningham. St. Clair played in 51 games last season and hit .274 with 27 runs scored ands 21 RBIs. Cunningham returns to the lineup after playing in only 13 games last season. Cunningham spent most of 2001 rehabilitating his wrist from an injury suffered in 2000. The coaches are expecting big things from Clayton Bried this season. Used only sparringly last season after transferring from Central Arizona, Bried will have an opportunity to play right field for the Cats. With a strong showing at the plate in the fall and a quick first step he could prove to be trouble for opposing catchers onthe base paths as well. Apair of senior pitchers, Wes Zlotoff and Matt Wersel, will look to provide stability this season on the mound. Wersel will see his first action as a Wildcat after transferring from Pepperdine after the 2000 season. Classmate Brian Pemble has decided to redshirt this season and return to action in 2003.
The Last One Standing: Ken Riley is the lone junior on the 2002 squad. One of six players that signed early Letters of Intent in 1999 to play at Arizona, Riley is the only one left. With starting catcher Chris Cunningham sidelined for the end of the 2000 and most of the 2001 seasons Riley got an opportunity to step up and contribute. The backstop posted a .288 batting average with 18 runs scored and 15 RBIs as the full time signal caller last season. He led Arizona with eight sacrifices, which was sixth-best in the Pac-10.
The Good Thing About Freshmen...: ...is that they all become sophomores. Arizona's pitching staff is stockpiled with second-year arms that already have well over 300 collective innings pitched. In addition to Anderson and Kaiser, the Wildcats can boast six sophomore pitchers that saw regular action in 2001. Sean Rierson, Joe Little, Chris Goodman and Tony Sulser have already pitched 40-plus innings pitched in their respective careers. Rierson and Little will combine with Kaiser to form the starting rotation for the Cats, while Goodman and Sulser will be called in out of the bullpen for relief. As freshmen last season these six pitchers helped improve UA's ERA by over two runs from the previous season and issued 91 less walks and surrendered 127 less runs than the 2000 staff. The following is a look at the 'Sophomore Sentations' -
Sean Rierson- Right-handed starter with excellent control. Set an Arizona rookie record with the fewest walks per nine innings in school history. Recorded 66 strikeouts last season and only 21 walks. Finished with a 7-4 record and got stronger as the season went on. In his final three starts of 2001 he was 3-0 with 22.2 innings pitched, nine Ks and a 1.98 ERA against Washington, Stanford and Arizona State. Finished fourth on the freshman pitcher records list in wins (7), strike outs (66) and ERA (4.66). His 100.1 innings pitched were the fifth most for any Arizona freshman pitcher.
Joe Little- Left-hander that moves into the starting rotation in 2002 from the bullpen. Tossed 50.1 innings with one start last season. Went 4-0 with two saves and a 5.19 ERA. Tallied 36 punchouts and while giving up only 12 free passes. In his one start, against Washington on the final day of the season, he struck out a career high eight Huskies in 6.2 innings. He came on in relief and pitched three-plus innings eight times in 2001.
Marc Kasier- A right-hander that faced some of the top pitchers in the country last season. Kaiser went toe-to-toe with UCLA's Josh Karp, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2001 MLB draft. The pair of aces posted nearly identical numbers in a game neither would earn a decision in: Karp- 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K - Kaiser 8 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Picked up the loss against the 2001 Player of the Year and No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Mark Prior. Through no fault of his own, all eight runs he gave up in the game were unearned on three Arizona errors. Kaiser pitched well with seven innings of work and four Ks. His 101 innings pitched were the fourth most for an Arizona freshman and his 70 strike outs are third all-time on the freshman list.
Chris Goodman- Arizona's third starter last season will move into the bullpen and make spot starts in 2002. A right-hander, Goodman made 13 starts and came in from the bullpen four times last season. He finished the season with a 3-2 record and a 6.30 ERA in 60 innings. He struck out 41 batters while walking only 16.
Tony Sulser- A right-hander that that appeared in a team-high and freshman record 27 games last season. Sulser was very effective coming out of the pen in 2001. Against Grand Canyon he entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs. He proceeded to strikeout the side to end the threat and pick up the win. He finished the season 3-1 with a 4.87 ERA and 39 strikeouts.
Brian Anderson- Although only pitching 10.1 innings, Anderson, a freshman All-American outfielder, made his impression felt on the mound. He twice worked out of bases loaded jams and finished the season with three saves (second most for a freshman), a 1-1 record and 11 strikeouts. An outstanding outfielder, Anderson will also be counted on in the field and at the plate.
The New Guys: A number of newcomers will be expected to step up right from the first pitch. With the departure of seniors Ernie Durazo and Erik Torres from first and third, Coach Lopez and the staff will expect freshmen Will Thompson and John Hardy to step in right away. Thompson, a sweet swinging left-hander, showed flashes of his skills in the fall season. He also appears to have soft hands and good glove at first. Hardy, Baltimore's 11th round selection last summer, put aside the professional ranks for a stay in Tucson. A natural shortstop, he will see considerable time on the hot corner this season for Arizona. In the outfield, Chris Marini and Jeff Van Houten will vie for playing time with the three returning players - Anderson, St. Clair and Bried. Both played well in the fall season, but will have to continue to impress during the season. Unlike last season where the freshmen pitchers were needed from day one, the new arms on this season's team will have to luxury of getting some work under their belts early in non-pressure situations. Will Miller and Jason Snyder will both contribute on the pitching staff as spot starters and out of the bullpen.
Arizona Player Career Stats vs. New MexicoHitter G BA AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB SBMoises Duran 1 1.000 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0Marc Kaiser 2 .500 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0Chris Cunningham 3 .500 8 4 4 3 0 1 1 2 0Brad Hassey 4 .455 11 6 5 5 0 2 0 4 1Justyn St. Clair 2 .375 8 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 0Clayton Bried 3 .333 9 3 3 2 0 0 0 1 1Ken Riley 5 .300 10 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0Brian Anderson 3 .167 12 3 2 0 0 1 0 0 0Greg Powers 1 .000 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0Pitcher G GS W-L Sv. IP H R ER BB K ERASean Rierson 1 1 1-0 0 8.0 5 0 0 0 8 0.00Chris Goodman 1 1 1-0 0 5.0 6 0 0 1 6 0.00Tony Sulser 1 0 0-0 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00Marc Kaiser 1 1 1-0 0 7.0 5 3 2 4 8 2.57Joe Little 1 0 0-0 0 2.1 2 2 2 1 1 7.71