Cats to Battle Titans
May 5, 2009
Arizona (22-21) @ No. 6 Cal State Fullerton (32-12)
Fullerton, Calif. - Goodwin Field
Tuesday, May 5 - 6 p.m.
Wednesday, May 6 - 6 p.m.
Arizona Probable Starting Pitchers:
Tuesday - TBA
Wednesday - TBA
Some Series Themes: The Cats and Titans clash in late season mid-week series showdown as Arizona plays its final two non-conference road games of the season ... Two explosive offensive clubs meet, with UA batting .321 on the season and the Titans boasting a .318 batting average ... Both teams have outscored their opponents on the season, but Fullerton (328-178) holds a considerable margin over the Wildcats (337-293) thanks in part to a more consistent season from the pitching staff ... Fullerton boasts a 3.44 team ERA compared to UA's 5.58 ... The two clubs have fared well in non-conference games as UA is 16-8 in such games and the Titans are 20-6 in non-league action ... Both teams are also apt to force the action on the base pats, as CSF has stolen 78 bases in 109 attempts, while the Wildcats are 66-for-86 in the category.
Series History: The Wildcats and Titans have met The Wildcats and Titans have met 94 times on the baseball diamond leading up to this week's two-game set. Fullerton owns a 61-33 advantage over the Cats in a series that dates back to 1973. The Wildcats took 2-of-3 from the Titans in Tucson a season ago.
A Glance at the Titans: Cal State Fullerton enters the week ranked No. 6 in Baseball America and No. 5 in Collegiate Baseball with a 32-12 record that includes a 20-6 mark against non-conference opponents ... As a team, the Titans hit .318 and have outscored opponents 328-178 on the season ... Opponents are hitting just .241 on the season against the Titan pitching staff, which owns a 3.44 ERA ... The staff has struck out 309 batters on the season and issued only 125 walks ... Offensively, Jared Clark leads the Titans with a .354 batting average and has 10 doubles, eight homers and 58 RBI on the season ... Fullerton is coached by Dave Serrano, who is in his second season as the head coach.
Cal Series Recap: The Wildcats swept visiting Cal in three games over the weekend, picking up their first weekend series sweep since mid-March and won back-to-back Pac-10 series for the first time in 2009 ... Bobby Coyle, who was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, was sensational, hitting a triple in each game of the series and totaling nine RBI ... He helped pace a Wildcat offense that hit .402 in the series and outscored Cal 33-16 ... Hunter Pace also turned in an exceptional weekend, going 8-for-11 (.727) at the plate, while Jett Bandy and Dillon Baird continued hot streaks as each extended hitting streaks to 10 games, respectively ... Preston Guilmet turned in his longest outing of the season (8.0 innings) and struck out 10 batters on Friday night, as he moved into sole possession of No. 2 on UA's all-time strikeouts list with 395 in his career ... The UA pitching staff allowed Cal, which was No. 2 in the conference in batting average entering the series, to bat just .252 in the three games.
Coyle Named Pac-10 Player of the Week: Bobby Coyle has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after he turned in a sensational weekend at the plate as he helped the Wildcats to a three game sweep of visiting California, which gave UA back-to-back Pac-10 conference series victories. In three games as UA's designated hitter, Coyle combined to hit 6-for-13, including a triple in each game of the series, scored two runs and drove in a team-high nine RBI. Coyle was critical to the Wildcats' success all weekend long, delivering clutch hits with runners on base. In fact, he was 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 2-for-2 with the bases loaded (both hits were triples). Additionally, Coyle was 3-for-4 batting with two outs in an inning and he drove in four two-out RBI. His three triples on the weekend increased his season total to six, which currently leads all Pac-10 players and is the most for a Wildcat since 2007.It is the first weekly honor for Coyle and the 51st player of the week all-time for Arizona.
Dillon is Delivering: Junior first baseman Dillon Baird has turned in exceptional numbers during his second season with the Wildcats. The Prescott, Ariz., native is hitting a team-best .420, is second on the team with 40 runs scored, and leads all Wildcats with 41 RBI. He also leads the club in slugging (.671) and on-base percentage (.500). His batting average leads the Pac-10, while his slugging and on-base percentages check in at No. 3 and No. 2, respectively. The left hand hitter is second on club with five home runs and his 19 walks are second most on the team. Additionally, Baird has shown marked improvement defensively, posting a fielding percentage of .986 while committing only five errors on the season - the fewest for any regular infield player on the club. He currently has a 10-game hitting streak.
Jett Re-Fueled: Earlier this season, Bandy approached the .300 mark when he hit .296 on March 11. Two weeks later, Bandy bottomed out at .243 on March 27. Now, Bandy boasts a .318 batting average entering the Cal series, thanks to a remarkable eight game stretch. Now one of UA's hottest hitters of late, Bandy is hitting .472 (17-for-36) in the games game he has played dating back to the Washington Stated series (April 17-19). Of his 17 base hits, eight have been doubles, which has boosted his season total to 18 - a figure that leads all players in the Pac-10. Bandy has also ripped two home runs in his current hot streak, in which he has a career-best 10-game hitting streak. He has scored eight runs and racked up 11 RBI, while slugging .861 and reaching base at a .583 clip in the stretch. Like his teammate Baird, Bandy is riding a 10-game hitting streak.
Ace in the Pen: In 15 appearances dating back to the UCLA series (March 27-29), Cory Burns has been phenomenal in relief for the Cats. Burns boasts a team-best 0.95 ERA in the span, which includes allowing just two earned runs in 19.0 innings pitched. Opposing hitters have collected just 13 hits in the span, but more impressive, have only tallied two extra base hits. Burns has picked up two wins and a save in his last five games, and has lowered his season ERA to 3.55.
Streaking: A number of Wildcats are currently in the midst of solid hitting streaks. As mentioned above, Dillon Baird and Jett Bandy have hit safely in each of their last 10 games, but four other Wildcats have a hitting streak of four games or better. Freshman Steve Selsky is next in line with a seven game hitting streak, and is followed by Kyle Stiner and Bobby Coyle, who have respective five-game hitting streaks. Hunter Pace, who is second on the club with a .369 average, has hit safely in his last four games.
Standard Ortega: Sophomore shortstop Bryce Ortega gets the moniker for his steady play in the field that has been exceptional at times and is backed up by the fact he has committed only one error in 21 Pac-10 games and leads all conference players with 155 assists on the season. But, Ortega has been one of UA's steadiest offensive performers throughout the 2009 season as well. The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native is hitting .354 on the season - third on club - and leads the team with 47 runs scored. Ortega, who stole 13 bases in 15 attempts a season ago, is a 15-for-17 in steals this season. Additionally, Ortega, who has spent most of his time hitting in the leadoff spot, also has 29 RBI, which ranks fifth on the team. He is slugging .488 and is reaching base at a .457 clip, thanks in part to his 26 walks and six hit-by-pitches this season.
Childs Play: Arizona catcher Dwight Childs is turning in a breakout junior season. Through 43 games, Childs has started in 27, sharing time with classmate Daniel Butler. But Childs has made the most of his time, hitting a career best .327 one year removed from his .193 campaign as a sophomore. Childs, who had one career home run through two seasons, already has three in 2009 and his 27 RBI already surpassed his 15 from the entire 2008 season and are a new career high. Last month at UCLA, he hit a team best .750, reached base at a .846 clip and slugged an incredible 1.625 in three starts behind the plate at UCLA. Childs, in only eight official at bats, tallied six hits, including one double and two home runs. He scored five runs and batted in seven runs to pace the Wildcats. Childs also walked four times and was hit by a pitch once and reached base an amazing 12 consecutive plate appearances.
We'll Take Two, or Three! Out of Arizona's 494 hits on the year, 170 have gone for extra bases. UA's preferred extra base hit on the season seems to be the double, as they have hit a double in every game of the season except the April 14 game against New Mexico. The Wildcats have hit 109 doubles on the season which averages out to 2.53 doubles per game. Entering the week, the per game figure ranked in the Top 15 in the nation. UA also has laced 26 triples on the season, which ranks in the Top 5 in the nation. Seven different Wildcats have tripled on the season, with four players tallying at least three triples (Dillon Baird, Bobby Coyle, Bryce Ortega and Dwight Childs).
Step Away From League Play: Arizona will play five non-conference this week, including a three game series in Tucson against Loyola Marymount this weekend, as it steps away from Pac-10 action. In non-conference games, the Wildcats have notched a 14-8 overall record, including a 3-0 mark away from home. A handful of Wildcats have been keys to UA's success in such games, with Kyle Stiner leading the way offensively. Stiner is batting .414 (12-for-29) in non-league games, and has scored 10 runs and driven in six. Hunter Pace, who is a .369 hitter overall, has seen a modest boost in his batting average in non-conference games, hitting .382 (21-for-55) with 12 RBI. A third Wildcat with stellar numbers is Rafael Valenzuela, who has compiled a .367 average with nine doubles, a triple, 11 runs scored and nine RBI in non-conference games.
Slowly But Surely: The Arizona pitching staff if slowly but surely making a turnaround after a rough first half of the season. Pitching has certainly been a season long limitation for the Wildcats, but if the last nine Pac-10 games are any indication, the staff has been making significant strides. In its last nine Pac-10 games, the UA pitching staff has posted a 3.86 team ERA, much improved from its overall 5.58 ERA on the season. Opposing hitters are hitting just .261 in those games, again, much improved from the .298 season average. The Wildcats are 5-4 in the last nine Pac-10 games, including wins in five of the last six.
Stoffel is No. 1: 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 season stands alone with 26 career saves. In mid April, Stoffel was named a mid-season watch list honoree for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award. The junior is also competing with teammate Cory Burns for most appearances on the season (currently 30), as both are within reach of breaking the school record for appearances in a season. With 90 career appearances, Stoffel now holds the UA record for most appearances in Wildcat history.
Feeling the Burns: Senior RHP Cory Burns has been one of the club's top options out of the bullpen in 2009, having pitched in 31 of UA's first 43 games. Burns, who earned his first victory of the year last Sunday at Stanford and has one save, has pitched 34.2 innings and struck out 40 batters. At his current pace (appeared in 72 percent of UA's games), he will surpass the UA's all-time mark for appearances in a 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, who leads all Pac-10 pitchers in appearances this season, 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 85 career games, which is No. 3 all-time at UA (Top-10 can be found on page 61 of UA media guide). He needs three more appearances to tie Ron Sismondo as UA's No. 2 all-time pitcher for appearances. He also trails teammate Jason Stoffel, who currently has 90 appearances and recently topped the all-time chart.
Turning Two: Arizona is turning double plays at a remarkable pace entering this week and actually was the top club nationally in turning double plays earlier in the year. A season ago, the Wildcats turned only 47 on the entire season. This season's tally of 53 (1.23 per game) projects to nearly 70 on the season, which would fall short of breaking the school record of 81 in a season set by the 1979 club. But, the highest total in the Lopez era is the 60 turned by the 2003 team. UA's per-game mark was No. 8 in the nation entering the week, and UA turned four in the three-game series at Stanford and four more last week in four games.
Glenny Hits No. 40: With his six home runs on the season, senior Brad Glenn has a total of 40 round-trippers in his four seasons at Arizona. That mark is No. 2 all-time at Arizona, trailing only Shelley Duncan, who blasted 55 home runs as a Wildcat. Glenn also has been hit by 42 pitches, which is also good for No. 2 all-time at Arizona. Again, he'll have a tough time catching the leader, Colt Sedbrook, who was hit by a pitch 55 times in his career. Interestingly, 55 is the all-time mark in the two categories. Lastly, look for Glenn to move into the UA Top 10 for all-time games played later this season. To date, he has played in 199 games as a Wildcat and trails Kenny Corley's 201 games played, which ranks No. 10 at Arizona.
Stacking Up the Pac: The Wildcats continue to be one of the top offensive teams in the Pac-10 Entering the weekend, UA is near the top of the league in almost every offensive category. Here's a look at the numbers entering the weekend series:
Category Stat Rank
Batting Ave. .321 1
Slugging % .494 2
On Base % .396 2
Runs Scored 337 2
Hits 494 1
RBI 306 2
Doubles 109 1
Triples 26 1
Homeruns 35 7
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, no player has started all 36 games this season. In all, 15 different position players have started a game and all 15 have made at least seven starts. Additionally, UA has used 39 different lineups (out of 43 possible), using the same lineup multiple times on four occasions. 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 43 games, Arizona has stolen 66 bases, which ranks second in the Pac-10 and trails only Arizona State (70). Bryce Ortega (15-for-175) and Hunter Pace (both 13-for-18) lead Arizona in the category, but 13 different players have stolen at least one 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 .329 on the season with runners in scoring position, .332 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and is scoring runs at a .631 clip with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 94 runs in 149 chances. On the season, the Cats have driven in 126 runners with two outs in an inning.
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.
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.
Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Preston Guilmet was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week last week after leading the Wildcats to an 11-1 victory at Stanford. A right hander, Guilmet picked up his first road win of the season and pushed his overall record to 3-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.63. Ranked No. 4 in Pac-10 history and No. 3 at Arizona for career strikeouts (385), Guilmet fanned only three Cardinal hitters last Friday, but turned in season lows for hits (5) and runs allowed (1). The native of Citrus Heights, Calif., stifled Cardinal hitters all evening long, preventing any chance of a Stanford rally as opposing hitters were 0-for-7 on the night with runners on base. The weekly award is the sixth-all-time for Guilmet, who was honored as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year in 2007 when he boasted a 12-2 record and a 1.87 ERA. He was recognized four times in his sensational sophomore season and once a year ago as a junior. Earlier this season, junior Jason Stoffel was tabbed Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17 after tallying a pair of saves in three dominating performances against Oklahoma State and Michigan. All-time, Arizona pitchers have been tabbed 42 times for the weekly award.
On Deck: Arizona will return home to host Loyola Marymount in a three game series that begins on Saturday, May 9, at 7 p.m. at Jerry Kindall Field in Tucson. The series continues on Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 6 p.m.