UA Hosts Mid-Week Baseball Series
March 2, 2010
UNLV at Arizona
Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium
Series Schedule/Probable Starting Pitchers
Some Series Themes: The Wildcats host their first mid-week series of the season in search of replenishing lost momentum over the weekend … The Rebels on the other hand are fresh off a four-game sweep of Temple and are hoping to pay back the Cats for a pair defeats handed down in Las Vegas last season … The UA pitching staff, in need of a big confidence boost, will have its depth tested early in the season with five games in the next six days … Stephen Manthei, the scheduled starter for Game 3 of the Long Beach State series that was rained out, will get the ball for the Wildcats on Tuesday, while Daniel Workman will get a shot at redemption on Wednesday … The Rebels used 12 pitchers over the weekend in their series against Temple, and neither of the projected starters for the mid-week series – Brad Nading and Stephen Singer – were among them .. Both squads have shown the ability to hit the ball early on, with the Wildcats sporting a .326 team batting average and the Rebels a .338 clip … It is interesting to note the Wildcats have just 15 extra base hits through five games, while the Rebels have 29 through eight games, including 10 home runs.
A Look Back: It was a tough weekend for the Wildcats as they hosted Long Beach State for a scheduled three-game set last weekend, which became a two-game series when Sunday’s finale was cancelled due to rain … Things looked promising for six innings in the opener with the Wildcats taking a 7-4 lead into the late innings, but LBSU score a run in the seventh, one in the eighth and two in the ninth to rally and win 8-7 … The 49ers controlled Saturday’s game as UA struggled in all areas of the game, including a season-high three errors and a season-low six hits … On the mound, UA pitchers struggled for control by issuing 10 walks in the two games to go with 13 strikeouts … Freshman Kurt Heyer, who did not factor in the decision on Friday, followed up his brilliant first game with a seven-strikeout performance, but did allow four runs on seven hits … At the plate, the Wildcats hits just .278 as a team despite roughing up LBSU ace Jake Thompson on Friday night and forcing him from the game in the fifth innings.
2,500-Win Club: Arizona’s 8-1 season-opening victory over Utah Valley was the 2,500th win as a program dating back to its first season in 1904. Only six other schools have reached the milestone, including Fordham (4,022 wins in 149 seasons), Texas (3,148 in 113 seasons), Southern California (2,647 in 115 seasons), Michigan (2,629 in 136 seasons), Stanford (2,592 in 116 seasons) and Arizona State (2,592 in 98 seasons). Good company for sure.
Arizona-UNLV Series History: The Wildcats and Rebels have met 23 times on the diamond in a series that dates back to 1984. Arizona owns a 14-9 edge in the all-time series and claimed both games in a two-game mid-week series in Tucson in 2008 and both games in 2009 in Las Vegas.
UA-UNLV 2009 Flashback: The Arizona Wildcats hit the road for the first time in 2009, picking up a pair of mid-week victories at UNLV … 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
Across State Lines: Arizona’s scheduled starter for Tuesday’s game is right-hander Stephen Manthei, a native of Las Vegas. He’ll make his first collegiate start against his hometown college after prepping at Bishop Gorman High School. Manthei and classmate Joey Rickard both played four seasons at Bishop Gorman, helping lead the school to four-straight state championships. On the other side of the diamond, the Rebels will have three players who call Arizona their home state, including catcher Drew Beuerline (Scottsdale/Desert Mountain HS), outfielder Brandon Bayardi (Phoenix/Brophy Prep) and pitcher Kyle Conroy (Scottsdale/Notre Dame Prep). Bayardi hails from the same school as Wildcats Matt Chaffee and Josh Garcia.
Where the Cats Stack Up: Thanks to a rainout and an open slate of mid-week games to open the season, the Wildcats have played the fewest games in the Pac-10 … As a team, the Wildcats rank fifth in the league in batting (.326), fifth in slugging (.470) and fifth in on-base percentage (.414) … UA’s pitching staff checks in seventh in ERA (4.89) and eighth in opponent batting average (.287) … Despite four errors in two games last week, the Cats are second in the league in fielding percentage (.979) … Individually, Steve Selsky’s .500 batting average is third-best amongst all players while his .542 ob-base clip is seventh-best … Jett Bandy is tied for second in home runs (3) and ranks tied for sixth in slugging at .870 … Kurt Heyer tops the league’s strikeout chart with 20, while Kyle Simon’s 12.2 innings pitched are eighth-most.
MLB Players: Arizona has a rich tradition in baseball and the excellence has continued well into the Andy Lopez era, evidenced by the number of former Wildcats who play in the major leagues. In 2009, 10 different Wildcats – eight coached by Lopez – played at the highest level of baseball. Here’s the list: Brian Anderson (CWS, BOS), Trevor Crowe (CLE), Shelley Duncan (NYY), Trevor Hoffman (MIL), Nick Hundley (SD), Mark Melancon (NYY), John Meloan (OAK), Brad Mills (TOR), Ryan Perry (DET) and Daniel Schlereth (AZ).
Heyer Standards: Arizona freshman pitcher Kurt Heyer set the bar pretty high for himself in his collegiate debut. He was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week and one of “Louisville Slugger’s” National Player’s of the week as announced by Collegiate Baseball for his effort against Utah Valley. Additionally, CollegeBaseballInsider.com named Heyer as its West Region Pitcher of the Week. In just six innings of work, the 6-foot-2 right hander struck out 13 batters, tying for second-most ever in a single game by a UA freshman pitcher. A native of Huntington Beach, Calif., Heyer struck out 13 of the 22 batters he faced, allowing just one run on three hits and only one walk. Heyer’s performance paced the Wildcat pitching staff to 17 strikeouts, the most for a UA staff in a single game since the Wichita Regional opening game against Oral Roberts in 2007. Heyer’s 13 strikeouts were the most for a UA pitcher in over two seasons, dating back to Preston Guilmet’s masterful 15-strikeout performance against Stanford in 2007.
Miscellaneous Diamond Notes: Two themes did not carry over into UA’s second series of the season: quick pace of play and good control by pitchers … The Wildcats played two games in excess off 3:50 against Long Beach State, both nearly an hour longer than any of UA’s first two games … Meanwhile, UA pitchers threw five wild pitches and the team allowed on passed ball over two games … The Wildcat’s 8-7 come-from-behind victory in 10 innings over Utah Valley marked UA’s first extra-innings victory since taking Game 1 of the Coral Gables Super Regional over Miami, 6-3, on June 6, 2008 … Arizona played just one extra innings game in 2009, losing 8-7 to Washington State in 11 innings on April 19 … The Wildcats’ last extra innings victory at home came against Arizona State, 4-3, on May 23, 2008 … All three games in the UA-UVU series checked in under the three-hour mark, including UA’s 18-1 victory in Game 2 and the 10-inning series finale … Arizona last played a regular season doubleheader in 2008, splitting a pair of games at USC … In 2007, the Wildcats played a doubleheader against Northern Colorado in Tucson, winning both games … Not one wild pitch or passed ball was charged in the opening series.
Familiar Faces: Despite having one of the youngest clubs in the nation, the Wildcat lineup last weekend featured some familiar faces that showed experience can pay of. Senior Rafael Valenzuela and sophomores Jett Bandy and Steve Selsky got off to excellent starts offensively last weekend. Selsky checked in second on the team in batting average (.571) and scored three runs and collected four RBI. Valenzuela hit .538, scored four runs and batted in seven, including five two-out RBI. Bandy meanwhile hit a home run in each game and led the team with eight runs scored and eight RBI.
Wildcat Debuts: A handful of Wildcats made their debuts in the Utah Valley series … Most notable, perhaps, was freshman RHP Kurt Heyer, who got the win in his first start and was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week … Freshman CF Joey Rickard turned in an impressive opening weekend, going 7-for-12 at the plate with three runs and four RBI. He hit his first career home run … Freshman OF/INF Robert Refsnyder got a pair of starts in left field and hit .333 at the plate … Freshman SS Alex Mejia helped lead the Wildcats defensive and collected two RBI and two runs scored while batting .300 in his first series … Freshmen Seth Mejias-Brean and Cole Frenzel split time starting at third base … Junior college transfers Josh Garcia and Jacob Meskin (played at UA in ’08) also saw time as starters at DH and catcher, respectively, while OF Bobby Rinard appeared in one game … Freshman RHp Stephen Manthei turned in a strong long-relief appearance on Sunday, going 4.1 innings of shutout baseball … Freshman set-up men Nick Cunningham and Tyler Hale took over for Heyer late in Friday’s game and looked solid, while Mark Hawkenson pitched one shutout inning on the weekend.
Set Up Shop: The Wildcats are in the midst of a season-long homestand in which it will play 23 games in 31 days, a total of just eight off days over the next month as mid-week series commence. Counting UA’s opening weekend series against Utah Valley, the Cats play 26 games in 38 days to open the season.
Young Cats: With only two seniors and 17 freshmen, Arizona is the youngest team in the Pac-10 conference this season. In fact, the Wildcats have 23 underclassmen on their roster, which doesn’t include three junior college transfers to the program. A look around the rosters at other league schools finds that UCLA and California have 15 freshmen apiece. While the Conference is thin on seniors at most every school, only Oregon State has as few seniors as the Wildcats do.
Mix and Match: Do not be surprised to see head coach Andy Lopez mix and match his lineup over the first several weeks of the season. The Wildcats have a lot of young but inexperienced talent on the roster and players will need to prove themselves in game situations to earn their spots throughout the season. With multiple options at nearly every position on the field, flexibility is benefit that Lopez and his staff rarely had a year ago.
Home Sweet Home: The Arizona Wildcats are in the midst of a 26-game homestand to open the season at Jerry Kindall Field. That’s right, the Cats don’t hit the road until their Pac-10 opener at California on April 1 – and that’s no April Fools’ joke. It’s the longest stretch of home games in over 30 years for Arizona, which has stretches of 11 (2002) and 16 games (1998) to open seasons in recent years. The 1979 club opened its season with 24-straight games, but even that pales in comparison to the school’s longest streak. In 1967, the Wildcats hosted 39 home games before ever going on the road. As it relates to this year’s group, the Wildcats hope to continue success at home. Since the current Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium opened in 1967, the Wildcats have emerged victorious in 1,063 games overall, having won nearly 70 percent of the games played. UA has posted 39 home winning seasons since 1967 with an average of 25 wins per year at the field. In 1974 the Wildcats were nearly perfect in Tucson, posting a 37-1 home record, and they went 28-4 at home in 2007 to record the best home winning percentage (.875) since 1976.
New Coaches: Head Coach Andy Lopez has introduced two new coaches to the program. Sean Cole, who served as the baseball operations director last season, as assumed an assistant coaching position this season and he will work with the pitching staff. Brett Scyphers, a former player under Lopez in the 2005-06 seasons before becoming a three-year team manager, has been named the volunteer assistant coach. The duo brings a youthful combination of playing experience and baseball knowledge that hits home with players. Both officially joined the program prior to the start of the fall practice 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 seven 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.
The “Veterans”: Look at this year’s roster and you’ll find exactly two seniors: Nogales, Ariz., native Rafael Valenzuela and Grayson Adams. Valenzuela is a multi-talented player who can play essentially any position on the field, while Adams rejoins the program after missing last season following Tommy John surgery that kept him out of baseball. Bryce Ortega leads the junior class returning after a First Team All-Pac-10 season a year ago. It is interesting to note that coaches may slide Ortega to second base with the emergence of freshman Alex Mejia as a masterful defensive shortstop. Redshirt junior Daniel Workman should team with sophomore Kyle Simon to lead the starting pitching staff. Sophomores Jett Bandy and Steve Selsky return after impressive freshman seasons that earned them Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America accolades. Bandy has moved back to his natural position of catcher while Selsky will anchor the right field position.
2009 Quick Review: The Wildcats wrapped up the 2009 season with an overall record of 30-25 and a 13-14 mark in the Pacific-10 Conference, good enough to tie for fifth in the league ... Arizona made a late-season push for a third-consecutive NCAA tournament bid by winning 14 of its last 20 games overall and 10 of its final 12 Pac-10 contests, but missed out on postseason play for just the second time in the last seven seasons ... The Wildcats led the Pac-10 in batting average (.314), and ranked second in slugging percentage (.487) and runs scored (419) ... Dillon Baird captured the Pac-10 batting crown finishing the season with the eight-best single season average in league history (.433) ... Baird, a finalist for the Pac-10 Player of the Year Award, was joined by Dwight Childs and Bryce Ortega on the All-Conference team.
2009 Offensive Review: After consecutive seasons in which the UA pitching staff turned in record-breaking season performances, it was the Cats' bats that carried them in 2009 ... Arizona scored 419 runs (7.62 runs per game) on the season - second most in the conference ... The Wildcats led the Pac-10 in hitting with a .314 team average and checked in second in slugging with a .487 average ... Arizona hit a conference-best 133 doubles on the season, the most for a UA club since 2005 (153) and the 10th-most in the last 50 years ... The club's .314 batting average is the highest since the 2005 season (.328) and the seventh-best for a UA team since 1990 ... Interestingly, Arizona batters were hit by a pitch 74 times on the season, a mark that ties for third most in program history. But, the Wildcats drew the fewest walks in school history - 177.
2009 Pitching Review: A year after losing five of the top seven pitchers on its staff - including two in the first round of the '08 MLB draft - a significant drop-off was nearly inevitable for Arizona as 10 of its 13 pitchers were either freshmen or sophomores with no more than 15 combined innings pitched ... The result was a bumpy first half of the season as the Wildcats struggled to settle on a weekend rotation behind Preston Guilmet while also having to piece together a mid-week staff ... UA pitchers struck out just 379 hitters on the season, the fewest since 2003 (345) ... The 355 runs allowed were also the most allowed since 2003 (367), while the 5.46 staff ERA was the highest since 2000 (7.48) ... No Wildcat tossed a complete game, marking the first time since 1998 and only the second time in school history a pitcher did not throw a complete game ... The staff was able to turn things around down the stretch helping UA in its late-season surge. In the last 15 Pac-10 games, the UA staff turned in a 4.12 ERA, limiting opponents to just a .255 average to go along with 103 strikeouts in 133.1 innings against just 47 walks.
2009 Draft Recap: One year after seeing a school-record 11 players drafted in the 2008 draft - including two first round selections - a total of six Wildcats were selected in 2009, including seniors Preston Guilmet and Brad Glenn, who each turned down professional from the '08 draft ... The two seniors were joined by classmate Cory Burns, and juniors Dwight Childs, Dillon Baird and Jason Stoffel ... All-time, 206 Arizona baseball players have been drafted, including 67 in the last 11 seasons. Of the 206 selections, 54 have been taken in the first five rounds ... The six draftees in 2009 push Arizona's total draftees to 39 under head coach Andy Lopez, who took over the program in 2002.
Pos. Player Organization Round (Overall)
RHP Jason Stoffel San Francisco Giants 4th (114)
RHP Cory Burns Cleveland Indians 8th (245)
RHP Preston Guilmet Cleveland Indians 9th (275)
1B/3B Dillon Baird L.A. Angels 11th (351)
C Dwight Childs Cleveland Indians 18th (545)
IF/OF Brad Glenn Toronto Blue Jays 22nd (700)
On Deck: The Wildcats will continue their 26-game homestand to open the season as they host Cal State Fullerton for a three-game set this weekend. The series will open on Friday at 6 p.m. at Jerry Kindall Field.