Baseball Loses Richie Gardner, Newcomers and Veterans On Campus
Aug. 25, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz.- An 11th-hour effort by the Cincinnati Reds was enough to lure senior-to-be Richie Gardner from the Arizona baseball program. The right-hander, slated to be UA's Friday night starter this season, agreed to terms with the Reds on Friday, just two days before the start of school.
Despite the loss of Gardner, Arizona welcomes back the majority of the 2003 roster that advanced to the NCAA postseason for the first time since 1999.
'Losing Gardner this late really stings,' head coach Andy Lopez said. 'But we're happy that Richie got what he wanted from the Reds and we certainly feel good about the guys we've got in school now. Offensively we return a lot of firepower and speed and we made an effort to bolster the pitching staff through our newcomers.'
Even after losing junior second team All-American Brian Anderson in the first round of the MLB draft, Arizona's offense still returns 86 percent of its runs scored last season, as well as 84 percent of its RBIs and 85 percent of its stolen bases. The returning players batted .327 as a group last season.
Among those returning offensively is the 2003 Pac-10 batting champion Jeff Van Houten (Jr., .413, 53 R, 72 RBI), senior Moises Duran (INF, .286, 15 HR, 63 RBI), juniors Richard Mercado (C, .324, 32 R, 31 RBI) and John Hardy (SS, .274, 38 R, 30 RBI), as well as sophomores Brad Boyer (INF, .351, 71 R, 47 RBI, 25 SB), Trevor Crowe (INF/OF, .316, 34 R, 35 RBI), Derek Decater (OF, .299, 32 R, 32 RBI) and Nick Hundley (C, .361, 37 R, 25 RBI).
Newcomers will also play a major role on offense with Arizona this spring. Among the new faces are freshmen Jason Donald (INF) and D.J. Lewis (OF).
On the mound Arizona returns nine-game-winner Sean Rierson (Sr., 9-3, 5.38 ERA) for his final season of eligibility, as well as much of the bullpen. Returning pitchers that saw considerable action last season are right-handers John Meloan (4-1, 4.15 ERA), Kevin Guyette (3-3, 4.80 ERA) and Derek Rodriguez (0-2, 8.22 ERA).
The Wildcats will also count on a bevy of new arms to help offset the losses of Gardner (9-3, 4.49 ERA) and Joe Little (4-4, 5.40). Among the newcomers to the pitching staff are freshmen Mark Melancon (RHP), Griffin Phelps (LHP), Donald Veal (LHP) and Tyler Tiederman (RHP). Lopez and the staff also welcome in transfers Koley Kolberg and Luis Cortez.
The team will open its three-week fall camp on Oct. 13.