Baseball Hosts Michigan This Weekend
March 13, 2009
Arizona (8-7) vs. Michigan (10-2)
Jerry Kindall Field
* Sunday's game will be broadcats live on 1290 A.M.
Some Series Themes: A rematch of the 2008 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional in which the top-seeded Wildcats defeated host Michigan 5-4 on their way to the regional championship … Certainly some notable differences in the early season schedules of the two teams … The Wolverines have yet to play a home game, while the Wildcats will wrap up a 13-game homestand this weekend and will have opened the season with 16 of the first 18 at home … Michigan also travels to Tucson fully rested, having last played on Saturday, March 7, in a 19-6 win over Siena … Conversely, Arizona has played 15 games in the last 21 days, including a mid-week series against No. 12 Oklahoma State this week … While Arizona looks to snap a two-game losing streak, Michigan looks to improve on its four-game win streak … Both teams have put up similar offensive numbers early in the season, but Michigan has a decided edge in the home run category, blasting 20 round-trippers to the Wildcats’ 10 in three fewer games … A pair of power pitching staffs will square off, as UM’s staff strikes out 9.3 batters per game and UA’s staff fans 8.0 per game.
Oklahoma State Series Recap: Arizona dropped a pair of mid-week games to No. 12 Oklahoma State on Tuesday and Wednesday, dropping the Wildcats to 0-5 against ranked teams in 2009 … UA again struggled against a top-notch, formidable pitch staff, batting only .236 in the two games and scoring a combined nine runs … Only two Cats – Brad Glenn (4) and Jett Bandy (4) – managed more than two hits in the series, and UA struck out a total of 22 times, including a season-high 13 times on Tuesday … Freshmen Kyle Simon and Bryce Bandilla suffered the two losses, but neither pitched as poorly as their stats show … In fact, Bandilla, who gave up four runs on five hits in 4.1 IP on Wednesday, earned himself a starting nod for this weekend’s series on Sunday … Another young arm, sophomore Ryan Doyle, likely earned himself more innings out of the bullpen, as he made his season debut on Tuesday, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing only one hit to go with five strikeouts.
Arizona vs. Michigan — The All-Time Series: Arizona leads the all-time series 43-12, having recently defeated Michigan in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional last May on its way to claiming the regional championship … Previously, the two programs last met in 1980 at the College World Series with the Wildcats capturing an 8-0 victory on their way to the program’s second of three national championships.
A Quick Glance at the Wolverines: Michigan concludes a stretch of 15 consecutive road games to open the season with its trip to Tucson … The Wolverines will again test the UA pitching staff, as UM is hitting .323 as a team and scores 9.6 runs per game … UM has clubbed 20 home runs on the season and is led by Ryan La Marre (.440, 6 HR, 25 RBI) … LaMarre was named the Big 10 co-Player of the Week last week and is hitting .571 (16-for-29) in his last seven games … On the mound, the Wolverines boast a 4.63 ERA as a staff … All three projected weekend starts – Chris Fetter, Eric Katzman and Travis Smith – have earned two victories on the season, and each has an ERA below 4.00, paced by Fetter’s 2.00 ERA.
Feeling the Burns: Senior RHP Cory Burns has been one of the club’s top options out of the bullpen early in 2009, having pitched in 12 of UA’s first 15 games … Burns, who has yet to earn a decision on the season, has pitched 15.1 innings and struck out 21 batters … At his current pace (appeared in 80 percent of UA’s games), he would break the UA record for appearances in a single season, which is currently held by Tod Brown, who pitched in 35 games in 1993 (Top-10 can be found on page 63 of UA media guide). Burns has been one of UA’s most reliable relievers in recent years and he is quickly moving up the UA career chart for career appearances. To date, Burns has appeared in 66 career games, which ranks No. 9 all-time at UA. One appearance this weekend would push him into a tie for No. 7 with Ed Vosberg and Sean Rierson, while two appearances would give him sole possession of the No. 7 slot (Top-10 can be found on page 61 of UA media guide).
UM-UA 2008 Flashback: Senior slugger C.J. Ziegler made a game-saving stop on a sharply hit grounder in the eighth inning and the Arizona bullpen trio of Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth and Jason Stoffel continued their season-long mastery in the later innings, as UA held on for a 4-3 victory over Michigan at Fisher Stadium on Saturday … The victory advanced the Wildcats to the regional title game in Ann Arbor and improved their record to 40-17 for the season, while the Wolverines, who fell behind 4-0 after three innings, came up just short in the comeback bid to fall to 46-13 … The Wildcats jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, scoring three runs on three hits in the first and adding another on a fielding error by UM shortstop Jason Christian in the fourth … Glenn and Ziegler, who each finished with a pair of hits in the game, delivered RBI singles in the first, and T.J Steele added another on a run-scoring ground out … Michigan chipped away at Arizona’s four-run advantage, scoring single runs in the fifth through seventh innings on an RBI triple by Christian and solo homers by Putnam and Ryan LaMarre … Arizona starter David Coulon (8-3) picked up his eighth win of the year with five solid innings … The left-hander allowed just two runs on five hits, while striking out four and walking only one … Schlereth, Perry and Stoffel combined to allow one hit over 2 2/3 innings … The trio finished with just one strikeout and two walks, but most importantly held the streaking Wolverines scoreless to seal the victory … Michigan starter Chris Fetter (10-2) settled down after UA’s early four runs to toss a complete game … The right-hander was charged with the hard-luck loss after allowing four runs – just three earned – on eight hits over eight innings … Fetter struck out seven and walked three on the night.
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 21 career saves. On the season, Stoffel has pitched in 16.0 innings and allowed only three runs (1.69 ERA), while striking out 22 batters and issuing only three walks.
Off to the Races: The Wildcats will conclude a rigorous season-opening schedule that allotted only six off days in the first month of the season. With three more games this weekend, Sunday’s game will conclude a stretch of 18 games in 24 days. Fortunately, a two-game road trip to UNLV in late February was the only time spent away from home. Arizona will settle into a more manageable schedule, playing only weekend series over the next month, beginning with the Pac-10 opener at Arizona State next Friday, March 20.
Stacking Up the Pac: Although conference action will not begin until next week, it’s never too early to see where the Wildcats stack up against other Pac-10 teams. Entering the weekend, UA is near the top of the league in almost every offensive category. Here’s a look at the numbers:
Category Stat Rank
Batting Ave. .311 3
Slugging % .491 3
On Base % .384 5
Runs Scored 130 1
Hits 171 1
RBI 111 2
Doubles 43 1
Triples 10 2
Homeruns 12 4
Turning Two: One of the strong points for UA early in the season has been the ability to induce opponents to hit into double plays. On the season, Arizona has already turned 26 double plays in only 15 games (1.7 per game). The mark not only leads the Pac-10, it is twice as many as Oregon and California, both of which have 13 to rank second in the league. In 2008, Arizona turned 47 double plays on the season.
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. 3 in UA history with 341 strikeouts and needs 81 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 341.1 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 22 career wins are five shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA.
Butler Stepping Up: Junior catcher Daniel Butler has been one of the top surprises early in the season, showing an improved bat to compliment his defensive skills. Butler has started 11 of UA’s first 15 games at catcher or DH and has gone 13-for-42 (.310) at the plate. He has scored seven runs and driven in eight, while slugging .476 and reaching base at a .453 clip.
Mix and Match: Due to a handful of nagging injuries, head coach Andy Lopez has been forced to shuffle his lineup on nearly a daily basis. In fact, only sophomore outfielder Bobby Coyle has started every game in 2009, and even he has been moved back and forth defensively between left field and center field. In all, 14 different position players have started a game and all 14 have made at least four starts. Additionally, UA has not used the same batting order more than once on the entire season. On the mound, Arizona has used 12 different pitchers, with 11 making at least three appearances.
Swipin’ Bags: The Wildcats were second in the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 91 in 2008, and this 2009 version may be in line to challenge that mark. Through 15 games, Arizona has stolen a conference-leading 33 bases and been caught only four times (89 percent). Bryce Ortega (8-for-8) and Hunter Pace (both 6-for-6) lead Arizona in the category, but 11 different players have stolen at least one base.
Back in Action: Three Arizona players will be available to play beginning with Saturday’s game after serving a mandatory three game suspension following their ejections from last Sunday’s game against UMass. Dillon Baird, Matt Presley and Diallo Fon each missed the two games against Oklahoma State and will miss Friday’s game against Michigan, but will be available to play the rest of the series.
Heating Up: After a slow start, senior Brad Glenn has been heating up as of late at the plate. After starting the year in a 4-for-22 slump (.182) in his first six games, Glenn has since raised his average to .288. In his last seven games, Glenn is hitting .367 (11-for-30), and has blasted three home runs and four doubles for a .800 slugging percentage. He has scored a team-high 10 runs in the seven game stretch and driven in eight runs.
Turning it On: Brad Glenn isn’t the only Wildcat hitting well in his last seven games played; Jett Bandy and Dwight Childs have also been on an offensive tear at the plate. Bandy is hitting .370 (10-for-27) over his last seven games, with four doubles, a homerun and a team-high nine RBI during the stretch. Childs, who has played in four of the team’s last seven games, has gone 7-for-18 at the dish (.438), with a triple, four runs scored and four RBI.
Two-Out Pitching Needs to Improve: One of the areas the Arizona pitching staff needs to improve is pitching tough with runners on base and two outs. Opponents, who are hitting .305 overall against UA pitching, are hitting even better with runners on base in scoring situations. With runners on base and two outs, opponents are hitting .331 (40-for-121) on the season. With runners in scoring position and two outs, opponents are hitting .326 (29-for-89) on the season. Comparatively, those opponents are hitting only .287 off UA pitching with no runners on base.
Hitting in the Clutch: While the season is young, the Wildcats have proven clutch at the plate with runners in scoring position. Arizona is hitting .353 on the season with runners in scoring position and .661 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 37 runs in 56 chances. Of course, more chances in the situations would be nice, too.
Young, But Talented: A total of 12 players with no prior Arizona experience have already played key roles for the Wildcats this season either as starters or key reserves. Offensively, Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy have found every day roles in the lineup, while newcomers are in the regular pitching rotation. That does not include Matt Chaffee or Joe Allison, each who are in their second year in the program but making their most significant contributions. Ryan Doyle also made his season debut against Oklahoma State, marking his second career appearance.
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 120 strikeouts (8.0 per game) from the UA pitching staff.
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 256-165-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 945-583-7. Last season, Lopez notched his 900th career victory against Sacramento State and guided the Wildcats to consecutive 40+ win seasons -- a feat the UA program had not accomplished since 1985-86.
Last Year Was an Even Slower Start: 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).
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
On Deck: The Wildcats will settle in to a weekend series only schedule over the next few weeks, beginning with the Pac-10 opener at Arizona State next week. The first game of the three-game series is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Tempe on Friday, March 20.