Cats Host Shockers In Mid-Week Series
March 15, 2010
Wichita State (10-3) at Arizona (11-4)
Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium
Series Schedule/Probable Starting Pitchers
Some Series Themes: A pair of historically successful programs will meet for just the third and fourth times in the history of the two schools … WSU took a pair of games from the Wildcats to bounce the Wildcats out of the 2007 Wichita Regional, after Arizona won its first two games at the regional … Both teams bring prolific offensive numbers and stifling defense numbers into the series … Arizona hits .358 on the season, while WSU checks in at .322, but the Shockers have hit 21 homers on the year to the Cats’ eight … On the mound, WSU boasts a 2.97 team ERA while the Wildcats sport a 3.93 ERA … UA’s hurlers have struck out 135 opposing hitters while the Shockers’ 86 … At the same time, WSU hitters have struck out 94 times on the season with 64 walks compared to UA’s 69 strikeouts and 71 walks at the plate … The teams are nearly identical in the field, with WSU committing one more error (24) than UA (23) … Both teams also are quick on the bases, with UA stealing 36 bases and WSU 30 … The Shockers have scored at least five runs in all 10 of their wins, while scoring four or less in each of the three losses … Arizona has yielded at least six runs in its four losses, and it has not scored fewer than seven runs in the last six games.
UA-UNC Series Notes: The Wildcats swept the series from Northern Colorado by scores of 9-1 on Friday, 7-6 on Saturday and 18-4 on Sunday … Arizona captured its second weekend series sweep of the season, improving to 11-4 on the season with a six-game winning streak … Dating back to the end of the 2009 season, Arizona has won eight of its last nine weekend series, which includes five sweeps … Also dating back to 2009, the Wildcats have won 25 of their last 35 games … As a team, UA hit .454 in the series against the Bears, outscoring UNC 34-11 … A total of 10 Wildcats scored runs in the series and 11 collected at least one RBI … The pitching staff turned in a combined 2.33 ERA, lowering its season ERA to 3.93 … Arizona hitters walked a total of 22 times and were hit by a pitch three times, while striking out just seven total times … Of UA’s 49 hits in the series, only 10 went for extra bases … UA’s only home run of the series was hit by Seth Mejias-Brean on Sunday. The homer was the first of the freshman’s career, and he finished the series with four runs scored and seven RBI … Joey Rickard and Robert Refsnyder each hit 8-for-12 in the series, respectively, leading the team with a .667 average for the weekend … Arizona stole 12 bases (in 14 attempts), improving its season total to 36 steals in 43 attempts … UA pitchers struck out 26 batters, led by Kurt Heyer’s 10 in his complete game effort in the opener on Friday … The Bears hit just .218 as a team in the series and collected only three extra base hits … A total of 10 Arizona pitchers saw action on the weekend.
Miscellaneous Diamond Notes: Arizona is 8-1 on the season when it out-hits opponents … The Cats have collected at least 10 hits in a game in 13 of the 15 games, including the last six straight … UA has at least one extra base hit in all 15 games … On seven occasions, UA hitters have totaled more walks than strikeouts in a game, and have been even in two other games … A Wildcat has been hit by a pitch in 11 of 15 games … UA pinch hitters are a combined 3-for-7 on the year, led by Ethan Chavez’ 2-for-2 total … The Wildcats are hitting .374 with runners on base and .381 with runners in scoring position … Steve Selsky has collected at least two hits in 10 of the 15 games … Joey Rickard leads the club with six multi-RBI games … Three Wildcats have current seven-game hit streaks, including Bryce Ortega, Rafael Valenzuela and Bobby Brown … Steve Selsky (RF), Joey Rickard (CF), Alex Mejia (SS) and Bryce Ortega (2B) have started every game at the same position.
Behind the Streak: Arizona’s modest six-game winning streak can be highlighted by some pretty impressive statistics: UA is hitting .446, slugging .595 and is reaching base at a .522 clip during the streak … The Wildcats have stolen 21 bases in 25 attempts … UA has outscored the opposition 73-17 … The pitching staff has a combined ERA of 2.00 and is yielding just a .235 opponent batting average … UA hitters have walked 33 times while striking out just 19 times … UA has hit 21 doubles, but just three triples and only two homers … Eight players have scored at least five runs, while six have at least five RBI … UA pitchers have struck out 49 batters against 17 walks … Opposing pitchers have committed eight balks and hit nine batters, while UA pitchers have zero of each … The Cats have scored 10 runs or more in four of the games and have not scored fewer than seven in any game … The average time of the game has been 2:46 for the six games, with no game lasting longer than 3:12.
Seth Steps Up: One of UA’s top performers during the current six-game winning streak is freshman third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean. The first-year Wildcat is hitting .435 over the past six games, which has improved his season batting average from .176 on March 6 all the way to its current .325. Mejias-Brean has also been UA’s top run-producer, collecting 15 RBI over the last six while scoring five runs. Included was his first career home run on March 14 against Northern Colorado, a solo shot to center field. The week prior, Mejias-Brean began to break out of his early-season slump as he delivered a clutch game-winning single in the 11th inning of opener of the Cal State Fullerton series on March 5. Two days later, Mejias-Brean drove in three runs in the 10-1 series clincher. For his performance, Mejias-Brean was named to the Primetime Performer Weekly Honor Roll by collegebaseball360.com.
Pac-10 POWs: A pair of freshmen – Joey Rickard and Kurt Heyer – have been named Pac-10 Player/Pitcher of the Week this season … Rickard helped lead the Wildcats to a pair of sweeps last week over Saint Joseph’s (March 10) and Northern Colorado (March 12-24). The 6-foot-1 native of Las Vegas hit .579 for the week, scored six runs and collected nine RBI in five games. Additionally, Rickard reached base five times with a walk and was twice hit by a pitch, yielding a .692 on base percentage, to go with five stolen bases … Heyer, in just six innings of work, struck out 13 batters against Long Beach State on Feb. 25, 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.
Now and Then: Taking a look at the first 15 games of 2010 compared to the first 15 games of 2009, some noticeable improvements stand out. For one, the Wildcats are 11-4 this year compared to 8-7 a year ago. But, perhaps the most notable is the fact the Wildcats are hitting .047 points higher than a year ago, while the pitching staff’s ERA is 1.34 runs lower. Two other trends favor the 2010 club on both the offensive and pitching charts: Arizona’s hitters have actually walked more times (71) than struck out (69) on the season, while the pitchers have thrown 14 fewer walks this season but struck out 15 more batters than a year ago. Below is a look at the ‘09/’10 statistical comparisons for batting and pitching through 15 games.
Avg. Slg% OB% R H 2B 3B HR BB K SB-ATT
2010 .358 .497 .446 141 187 37 8 8 71 69 36-43
2009 .311 .491 .384 130 171 43 10 12 57 100 33-37
ERA IP H R ER BB K 2B 3B HR b/avg.
2010 3.93 142.0 145 73 62 46 135 17 7 8 .262
2009 5.27 135.0 167 103 79 60 120 31 10 8 .305
It’s Gotta Start Somewhere: Arizona’s modest six-game winning streak isn’t a whole lot to brag about, but any potential big streak has to start off small. The Wildcats will be tested over the next two days by Wichita State, which will look to snap a two-game losing streak. Should the Cats be able to extend their six-game winning streak, it will be the longest since an eight-game winning streak in April of the 2008 season. That same season, the team had a 12-game winning streak after losing its season opener. A year ago, UA’s longest win streak was three games on multiple occasions.
K’s and BB’s: Arizona’s hitters are walking more and striking out fewer, while the pitchers are walking fewer and striking out more. Indeed, Wildcat hitters have walked more times (79) than they have walked (69) on the season. It amounts to 5.3 walks per game, significantly higher than last season’s 3.2 walks per game. At the same time, the pitchers have seen a rather dramatic turnaround from a year ago. Through 15 games, the staff has 135 strikeouts to just 46 walks for an average of 3.1 walks per game compared to 3.9 a year ago.
Cats in the Pac: On offense, the Wildcats rank second in batting (.358), fourth in slugging (.497), second in on-base percentage (.446), second in runs scored (141), second in triples (8), seventh in home runs (8), second in walks (71) and have the fewest strikeouts (69). Individually, Jett Bandy checks in the top-5 of most all categories, including batting (.476, 2nd), slugging (.794, 4th), on base percentage (.560, 2nd), runs scored (22, 1st), hits (30, t-1st), RBI (16, 6th), doubles (8, t-2nd) and home runs (4, 3rd). Joey Rickard leads the league in RBI (20), while Steve Selsky ranks fourth in hitting (.448) and Robert Refsnyder seventh in the category (.423) … As a pitching staff, UA is sixth in ERA (3,93), fifth in opposing hitting (.262), fourth in batters struck out (135), and has the fourth-fewest walks (46). Individually, Kurt Heyer is third with 36 strikeouts and leads the league with 15 strikeouts looking. Nick Cunningham is tied for the second-most appearances with nine … Additonally, the Wildcats lead the league in double plays (16), have the second-most stolen bases (36), and have been caught stealing the fourth-fewest amount of times (7), are third in sacrifice bunts (14) and tied for second in sacrifice flies (8).
Clean Takeoff: Sophomore catcher/first baseman Jett Bandy has been one of UA’s top offensive performer in the team’s first 15 games. Bandy, who tied for the team lead with 21 doubles a year ago, is the club leader in average (.476), slugging (.794) and on-base percentage (.560). He also leads in runs (22), hits (tied with 30), home runs (4) and is third in RBI (16). Just as impressive, in 63 official at-bats, Bandy has struck out only twice on the season. For his career, Bandy has struck out just 21 times in 227 at-bats, or once every 10 at-bats. Pretty good figures for a power bat in the lineup.
Carry Over: Jett Bandy’s hot start to 2010 can be traced back to the second half of the 2009 season when he was one of UA’s steadiest offensive weapons. Including the final 22 games he played as a freshman, Bandy is hitting a robust .404 (59-for-146) with nearly half of his hits going for extra bases (19 2B, 7 HR). In the 37-game span, Bandy has collected 36 RBI and scored 35 runs. As a freshman, Bandy earned freshman All-American recognition by Collegiate Baseball and set a UA record for freshmen by being hit by a pitch 14 times. He was plunked three times against Cal State Fullerton March 5-7, and is one shy of reaching UA’s career top-10 in the category.
‘K’urt Heyer: Entering this week’s action, freshman Kurt Heyer is thirdamong all Pac-10 pitchers with 36 strikeouts. Of his 36 strikeouts, 15 have been looking, which checks in tops league. Heyer’s arm has accounted for 36 of UA’s 135 strikeouts as a team (26.7 percent) despite throwing just 18.3 percent of UA’s innings as a team.
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.
Double the Fun: The Wildcats have hit at least one double in 14 of the 15 games this season. A year ago, UA hit a double in 52 of 55 games, including the first 30 of the season. Adding in the final two games of 2008, the Wildcats have doubled in 68 of their last 72 games (94 percent). Interestingly, after hitting 133 doubles a season ago (2.42 per game), UA had just 17 through the first 10 games of 2010 (1.7 per game). However, the Wildcats belted 13 triples in the double-header against Saint Joseph’s on March 11, improving the season total to 3. The Cats added seven in three games against Northern Colorado, and their total of 37 on the season averages out to 2.47 per game. Jett Bandy, who tied for the team lead with 21 a season ago, again leads the club with eight to date.
Singles For Selsky: The power numbers are not there yet for sophomore Steve Selsky, but that could be a good thing as it has not resulted in a dip in his batting average. Selsky has refrained from over-swinging and has let base hits come to him one single at a time. The right fielder is tied for the team lead in hits with 30 – which also leads the Pac-10 with Jett Bandy – but only six have gone for extra bases (four doubles and two triples). The result has been a .448 average that is second-best on the club. He has 18 runs scored and 14 RBI through 15 games.
Ortega Bouncing Back: Junior Bryce Ortega did not start the season the way he had hoped offensively, but he steadily began to bounce back last week. After entering the week at .174, Ortega finished the week with a .254 batting average thanks to a nice five-game stretch in which he batted .41 (8-for-19). On the season, Ortega has team-high 10 walks and has scored 18 runs. He now has scored 109 runs in his two-plus seasons at Arizona. For his career, Ortega is a .316 hitter with 19 doubles, five triples, five homers and 64 RBI. He is 37-for-41 in stolen base attempts (90.2 percent), which narrowly stands as the best mark in UA history in the category. Currently, the next-best percentage is T.J. Steele’s 90.0-percent success rate from 2006-08. Lastly, Ortega has more career walks (66) than strikeouts (59).
Top 25 Wins: Taking two-of-three games from No. 18 Cal State Fullerton March 5-7 was significant to the Wildcats for a handful of reasons. But, perhaps the most significant reason was that they picked up a pair of wins over a Top 25 team. In 2009, Arizona was just 1-14 against Top 25 teams, including 1-9 against such teams in Tucson. Starting off 2-1 at home against ranked foes should give the Wildcats a confidence boost when they face some of the remaining ranked teams on the schedule later this season.
Double Play Combo: Shortstop Alex Mejia and second baseman Bryce Ortega, who was UA’s starting shortstop for his first two season, have developed some early-season chemistry as a dynamic defensive duo up the middle. The Wildcats have turned 15 double plays on the season with Ortega and Mejia factoring into 10 and 11, respectively. Mejia leads the Pac-10 in total assists (46), while Ortega checks in third with 42. That’s some good early season work for the middle of UA’s infield.
Don’t Miss The Scoring: You better get to the ballpark on time if you want to see the Wildcats scoring. On the season, Arizona has scored 101 runs in the first five innings of games compared to just 35 runs over the final four innings. The Wildcats most productive innings have been the second (23), third (23) and fifth (22) frames while out-scoring opponents 101-42 in the first five innings. If you stick around to the end of the game, you might see some thrilling finishes. Arizona has played – and won – three extra innings games on the season by outscoring teams 5-2 in extras. On the season, the Wildcats are 9-1 when leading after six innings.
Targeting Bandy: Sophomore Jett Bandy was hit three times by a pitch in the Cal State Fullerton Series (March 5-7). In his career, Bandy has been plunked 17 times by a pitch, including 14 as a freshman, which set a new freshman record in the category at UA. The tally of 17 is already just one shy of tying two other players (Les Pearsy and Gar Millay) for 10th-most in a career for a Wildcat.
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 (4,024 wins in 149 seasons), Texas (3,157 in 113 seasons), Southern California (2,652 in 115 seasons), Michigan (2,633 in 136 seasons), Stanford (2,596 in 116 seasons) and Arizona State (2,599 in 98 seasons). All-time, Arizona is 2,510-1,329-22.
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.
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.
.300 Club: Through seven games, the Wildcats are hitting .358 as a team, in line with recent UA clubs that have finished the season around that mark. In fact, Arizona’s last seven teams have hit .300 or better for the season. The best figures were turned in by the 2003 and 2005 clubs, which each hit .328 respectively. Last year’s ’09 team was next in line with a .314 average. The 2004 College World Series team hit .305 as did the 2006 team. The Wildcat clubs of 2007 (.306) and 2008 (.301) also were above .300.
Unselfish Play: Arizona’s 5-4 victory in 13 innings over UNLV on March 3 included a record-tying performance by the Wildcats. UA executed five different sacrifice bunt plays to move runners up, tying the school single-game record previously establish at California on April 1, 2006. Interestingly, that game also lasted 13 innings. The last of this year’s five sacrifice hits proved to be the game winner as Alex Mejia successfully put a bunt down with a runner a second and an errant throw to first allowed the winning run to come in to score from second. On the season, UA has 13 sacrifice bunts in 12 games.
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).
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 1,066 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. Shaun 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.
On Deck: The Wildcats host Sacramento State for a three-game series March 19-21. The series will begin on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
TOMORROW | 1:00pm PTLive