Cats, Bulldogs to Battle on Diamond
Feb. 26, 2009
Arizona (4-1) vs. Georgia (5-0)
Jerry Kindall Field
Friday, Feb. 27 – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 28 – 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 1 – Noon
Some Series Themes: The Wildcats and Bulldogs will battle in a key non-conference three-game series for the second season in a row, after UA claimed two of three in Athens to open the 2008 season … Last year it was Arizona taking a lofty national ranking on the road – as high as preseason No. 1 by some publications – but this time it will be Georgia boasting the credentials as it is tabbed as high as No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball entering the week … Two red hot offenses will be on display as UGA comes to Tucson with a .367 team batting average that has yielding 60 runs through six games. The Wildcats aren’t too shabby themselves, batting .345 as a team scoring 53 runs through five games … Both clubs have kept scoreboard operators busy, as the Bulldogs have scored in double figures in four of their five games, while the Wildcats have done so in each of their last three … Clearly, both teams can hit, but one can imagine pitching and fielding go a long way to deciding the winner in each game … UGA’s pitching staff has limited its opponents to only a .210 batting average and 15 runs total – seven of which have been earned … The Wildcats staff have allowed 34 runs, but only 19 earned runs through five games … A familiar pair of pitchers -- two four-year starters – will duel on Friday night, as Preston Guilmet of Arizona and Trevor Holder of Georgia face each other for the second straight season. Holder earned the victory in Athens a year ago going five innings and allowing five runs on six hits.
UNLV Series Recap: The Arizona Wildcats hit the road for the first time in 2009, picking up a pair of mid-week victories at UNLV on Tuesday and Wednesday … The Wildcats won the opener 14-7 on Tuesday evening and kept things going offensively with a 16-12 win on Wednesday afternoon … The Wildcats knocked out 33 base hits and scored 30 runs, posting a team batting average of .384 in the two-game series … 10 different Wildcats collected at least two hits in the series, with six collecting at least three … Sophomore shortstop Bryce Ortega led all UA hitters by going 7-for-9 at the plate (.778) while scoring eight runs and driving in three … Catcher Daniel Butler continued his hot start to his junior year, with a 2-for-3 performance on Wednesday, blasting his first home run of the season and adding four RBI … Senior Hunter Pace started both games in centerfield and drove in four runs in the series, finishing 4-for-10 … Junior Dwight Childs started Tuesday ballgame behind the plate and finished with a 2-for-5 effort at the plate, belting a solo homerun and driving in three the game … Matt Chaffee picked up a pair of wins in relief, pushing his record to 2-0 on the season with a 3.38 ERA … … Jason Stoffel earned his second save on the young season, striking out four to slam the door on a late Rebel rally in Game 2.
Arizona vs. Georgia — The All-Time Series: The Cats and Dogs have met a grand total of five times on the baseball diamond – twice in the 2004 College World Series and three times last year in Athens, Ga. UGA had the upper hand in both contests back in 2004, defeating UA, 8-7, in the opening game of the CWS and then eliminating the Wildcats, 3-1, from the postseason field four days later ... Last season, UGA won the opener, 9-7, but the Wildcats took the final two by scores of 7-1 and 9-8 to claim the series victory … Historically, Arizona has played six teams that currently call the SEC home and has gone 11-15 against them. The Wildcats also recently faced Mississippi State in a home-and-home series with UA sweeping MSU in Tucson in 2005 and the Bulldogs returning the favor in Starkville a year later.
Closing Time: Jason Stoffel continues to close out games for the Wildcats at a record-breaking clip. In fact, each save he earns the rest of the way in his career will break his own career record for saves. On Feb. 20, Stoffel earned his 19th career save to surpass Mark Melancon as the program’s all-time leader in the category. Now, the Baseball American pre-season first team all-american stands alone with 20 career saves.
On a Tear: The Arizona offense has come alive over the last three games – all victories. In the win over Sacramento State last Sunday and two over UNLV this week, the Wildcats have hit at a .377 clip as a team, collected 46 hits, and scored 41 runs. Of the 46 hits, 18 have been for extra bases, including 11 doubles, three triples and four home runs. The club has slugged .615 and reached base at a .448 clip in its mini-win streak. The Cats have also turned up the heat on the base paths, stealing 10 bases in 10 attempts over the last three games.
They Can Hit, Too: Junior catchers Dwight Childs and Daniel Butler are mostly known – an rightfully so – for their defensive abilities behind the plate, but in the two games against UNLV, the pair turned in some stellar hitting numbers too. The classmates combined to hit 4-for-8, score four runs and drive in seven runs in the two games in which they split the starts. In doing so, they each hit their first hoe run, while Childs added a double and Butler walked twice.
Offensive Output: On Tuesday, the Wildcats racked up 19 hits in their 14-7 seven, tallying the most hits in a game since March 9, 2008 when they had 20 against Notre Dame. A day later, UA reached double-digits in the runs column for the third-consecutive game, marking the first time the club had done so since its opening series on the 2007 season against Gonzaga.
Improving Defensively: After a rough opening weekend defensively, the Wildcats showed improved defense against the Rebels. While not perfect, the Wildcats committed just four errors in the two games. That is a dramatic improvement from the opening series in which Arizona committed 11 errors in three games, including eight last Saturday.
Turning Things Up a Notch: In its opening weekend, Arizona stole only one base in three games. In two games at UNLV, the Wildcats went a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts. Leading the charge was sophomore Bryce Ortega, who was 4-for-4. Ortega moved into the No. 2 spot in the order last Sunday against Sac State, and stayed there for the two games on the road. Senior Hunter Pace swiped three bases in as many attempts against the Rebels, and the outfielder has been batting out the No. 9 hole since last Sunday, giving UA speed at both ends of the lineup.
Leadoff Man: Rafael Valenzuela moved to the leadoff role last Sunday has set the table for the Wildcats offensively, something they weren’t getting in the leadoff spot in the first two games. In the last three games, Valenzuela has hit .333 with two doubles and a triple. He has scored five runs and reached base at a .353 clip.
Hitting in the Clutch: While the season is young and the pitching will ramp up as the schedule toughens up with key non-conference series like this weekend against Georgia, the Wildcats have proven clutch at the plate. Arizona is hitting .403 on the season with runners in scoring position and .667 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 12 runs in 18 chances. Arizona also has totaled 18 RBI with two-outs through five games.
Donn of a New ERA: After seeing six pitchers drafted in the 2008 MLB first year player draft – including two first-rounders – Arizona knew it would have to rely on a bevy of young arms in 2009. In the first five games of the season, UA called on five pitchers to make their Arizona debut, including freshmen Donn Roach, Cody Lewis, Kyle Simon, Bryce Bandilla and junior college transfer Matt Veltmann. The best of the bunch this in the opening weekend was undoubtedly Roach, who tossed six innings last Sunday, striking out seven and allowing only two runs (both unearned) on three hits to earn his first victory of the season. Roach also started UA’s game at UNLV on Wednesday – a day that would have been a throwing day for him anyways. He pitched 2.1 innings on a strict pitch count allowing one earned run to put UA in position for another weekday win. Roach boasts a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 IP on the season and has eight strikeouts.
Impressive Debut: Steve Selsky has emerged as a steady force in the lineup for the Wildcats early in his career. He has started all five games as a Wildcat, and is fourth on the team in batting average (.368) entering this weekend’s series. He was 3-for-9 at the plate against UNLV and scored three runs in UA’s two wins. In his debut weekend against Sac State, Selsky went 4-for-10 at the plate, walked once and scored three runs to go with three RBI. He slugged .800 on the weekend, hitting a double and his first career homerun – a solo shot. He also layed down a sacrifice bunt that led to a UA run and showed a good arm in the outfield, throwing out a runner trying to advance to third on Saturday.
Steady Behind the Plate: Arizona has the luxury of playing two excellent defensive players behind the plate. Juniors Dwight Childs and Daniel Butler both will help mentor a young Wildcat pitching staff as they bring a wealth of experience to the field. Childs (40) and Butler (19) split the starting duties a year ago and will continue to do so this season to keep each other fresh. Already in 2009, both have proved valuable behind the plate as they have been on the receiving end of 48 strikeouts from the UA pitching staff.
Off to the Races: Arizona opens the 2009 season with a rigorous schedule that includes only six off days in the first month of the season. The Wildcats are in the middle of a stretch that includes 18 games in 24 days. Fortunately, this week’s road trip to UNLV are the only games on the road. UA returns home to face Georgia this weekend, then will turn around and welcome Holy Cross to Tucson for a pair of midweek games on March 3-4.
Home Sweet Home: Arizona will host 35 games at Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium this season. If the past two seasons are any indication, that should be a good thing for a young Wildcat club. Over the last 2+ seasons, UA has posted a mark of 55-10 at home, including a 25-5 mark a season ago. Through three games in 2009, Arizona is 2-1 at home.
Brad is Back: The Wildcats are more than happy to hear that Brad Glenn will be back for his senior season, but it hasn’t always been a sure thing for more than one reason. First, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound third baseman turned down professional baseball after being drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 17th round of last summer’s MLB draft. Then last fall, Glenn injured his throwing arm in a non-baseball accident. Good news for the Wildcats, though, is that Glenn has quickly recovered from the injury and is expected to provide the offensive power and leadership that the club needs. While he has missed the last two games while nursing some nagging injuries, Glenn should see time back in the lineup this weekend. Glenn has 148 RBI in his three seasons at UA and is within reach of breaking into the Top 10 in UA and Pac-10 history with another 50+ RBI season.
Flying Under the Radar: Since Andy Lopez took over the Arizona baseball program the Wildcats have made a return to the national scene. After disappearing nationally nearly all together from 1994-2001, Arizona has made five postseason appearances (2003-05, 2007-08) in the last six seasons, has played for four regional championships (2004-05, 2007-08) – winning two of them (2004 and 2008), won a super regional title (2004), and made its 15th trip to Omaha (2004). Impressive feats on that very basic level, but when you factor in that UA still hasn’t hosted a postseason game at home since 1992, the simple fact that Lopez and Wildcats have been able to achieve so much on the road makes it just that more impressive.
Head Coach Andy Lopez: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez enters his eighth season as the Wildcats’ skipper with a 254-160-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 943-578-7. Last season, Lopez notched his 900th career victory against Sacramentio State and guided the Wildcats to consecutive 40+ win seasons -- a feat the UA program had not accomplished since 1985-86.
Strong Finish: After bottoming out at a season-low .193 with the batting average after going 0 for 5 against Indiana State on April 11, Brad Glenn went on a tear at the plate to finish the 2008 season. Over the final 30 games of 2008, Glenn hit a team-best .373 and drove in a team-high 35 runs over the final half of the season. In addition, he led all Wildcats with 34 runs scored over the stretch, and tied Jon Gaston for the second-most homeruns in the 30 games (8). He also posted the team’s top mark for slugging percentage (.667) and was second in on-base percentage (.441).
One More Time Around: Senior RHP Preston Guilmet returns for his senior year and should lead the UA staff once again as the Friday Night starter. Guilmet currently ranks No. 4 in UA history with 326 strikeouts and needs 97 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 325.1 innings in his three seasons at UA, and has a chance to become UA’s all-time leader in the category (Ed Vosberg, 405.1). He stands at No. 6 in program history in fewest walks per nine innings at 2.46. Additionally, his 21 career wins are six shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA.
Pitching Has Been Pretty Special: Under head coach Andy Lopez, the Wildcat pitching staff has re-written the record books. Here’s a look at some of the notable tidbits:
- Two Pitchers Selected in the First Round of the MLB Draft in 2008
- Four 10-Game Winners Since 2004
- Nine Different Pitchers Selected in the First 10 Rounds of the MLB Draft Since 2003
- Top Three Strikeout Staffs in School History in Three of the Last Four Years
- Broke School Record For Lowest Opponent Batting Average in 2007 and 2008
- Four times under Lopez UA has recorded the second-most saves in a season
- Preston Guilmet One of Four UA Pitchers With 300+ Strikeouts
- Top 5 Nationally in Strikeouts Per Nine Innings Last Two Seasons
More Pitching Props: Here’s a look at some more pitching marks set by the 2007 and 2008 pitching staffs:
2008 – Set School Record with 572 Strikeouts
2008 – School Record Seven Shutouts Most Since 1976
2008 – Three Pitchers Named All-Pac-10
2007 – Lowest Team ERA in 30 Years (3.90)
2007 – Fewest Home Runs Allowed in 34 Years (20)
2007 – Fewest Hits (516) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 – Fewest Runs (273) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 - Fewest Earned Runs (228) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 – Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet
2007 – 386 out of 527 Innings Pitched Were Shutout Innings (73%)
Early Recognition: Several Wildcats have received some notable pre-season media attention and are on watch lists for some of the nation’s top honors. Here is the list:
Jason Stoffel (’09 Junior) – Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American; BaseballInsider.com Pre-Season Second Team All-American; Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American (Third Team), Preseason NCBWA All-American (Third Team), 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List; Rivals.com Pre-Season All-Conference
Preston Guilmet (’09 Senior) – Rivals.com Preseason Top 10 Returning Senior, 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
Bryce Ortega (’09 Sophomore) - 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List