Cats Take On No. 6 Bruins
April 23, 2010
No. 6 UCLA (27-6, 5-4 Pac-10) at No. 17 Arizona (27-9, 7-5 Pac-10)
Tucson, Ariz. |Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium
Series Schedule/Probable Starting Pitchers
Some Series Themes: A pivotal mid-season conference series between two teams jockeying for positioning near the top of the Pac-10 standings … A former No. 1 team in UCLA brings a lofty national ranking to Tucson despite a recent slump in which it has dropped six of its last 11 games following a 22-0 start to the season … Meanwhile, Arizona seems to have recovered from a rough patch of its own by winning six straight games following a slide of four straight games earlier this month … On paper, the true battle in this series will be between UA’s offense and UCLA’s pitching staff. The Wildcats entered the week as the No. 4 hitting team in the nation by average, while the Bruins boasted the No. 2 team ERA in the country. UA hits .352 as a team, while UCLA opponents have hit just .208 for the season … The Cats hope they have settled into a weekend rotation as Kurt Heyer and Kyle Simon anchor the Friday/Saturday spots and Daniel Workman will reassume the Sunday role for this week … UA head coach Andy Lopez, who played shortstop at UCLA, seeks his first season series victory over his alma mater since 2005 when the Cats swept the Bruins in Los Angeles … UA hosts its annual “Bark in the Park” day on Sunday when fans can bring their dogs to the game.
Last Time Out: The No. 17 Wildcats knocked off No. 1 Arizona State, 4-2, in a mid-week game in Tempe that does not count in the conference standings … The win was UA’s sixth-straight and improved the Wildcats to 3-1 on the season against ranked opponents (at the time of the game) … Daniel Workman pitched a solid 6.1 innings in an emergency start after scheduled starter Cory Bernard injured his throwing arm while warming up in the bullpen 20 minutes prior to the game. Workman answered the call, however, allowing just two runs with four strikeouts and no walks … Robert Refsnyder scored a run and collected two RBI in a 3-for-4 day at the plate. Bobby Brown added an RBI double and Seth Mejias-Brean hit a sacrifice fly to account UA’s other two RBI in the 4-2 game … Shortstop Alex Mejia turned in some sterling plays, including a bare-handed throw on the run and a diving catch on a line drive, both in the bottom of the ninth inning … Bryce Bandilla pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and Nick Cunningham earned his second save in the ninth.
WSU Series Recap: The Wildcats swept their first Pac-10 series of the season to improve to 7-5 in lead play with three wins over Washington State … Kurt Heyer set the tone on Friday, pitching 8.2 innings with 14 strikeouts to push his record to 6-0 … On Saturday, Kyle Simon pitched 8.0 innings and Rafael Valenzuela collected a career-high five RBI in a 16-hit effort for the Cats … On Sunday, UA blew an eighth inning lead and trailed 11-8 going to the bottom of the ninth, but the Wildcats scored four runs capped by Valenzuela’s two-out RBI single to win, 12-11 … The Wildcats hit .394 as a team in the three games, outscoring the Cougars 30-20 … The Wildcats rapped out 12 doubles and three triples in the series, while they walked nine times and struck out just eight at the plate … Augey Bill pitched effectively in all three games out of the bullpen, turning in 2.0 innings of work in which he gave up one hit and no runs. He earned his first career save on Friday … UA’s pitching staff held the Cougs to a .262 clip at the plate and issued just four walks in the series.
Cats in the Rankings: The Wildcats, after a weekend sweep of Washington State, improved to 26-9 on the season, their best start since opening the 2007 season with a 30-6 record. Arizona appears in all five major collegiate baseball polls, including No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and the Baseball America top 25. The Wildcats check in as high as No. 15 in the Rivals.com ratings, and appear at No. 18 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 16 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30.
RPI Facts: Arizona checked in at No. 16 in this week’s NCAA RPI release that is updated weekly … The Wildcats, with their win over No. 1 Arizona State on Tuesday, are now 7-5 against Top 50 RPI opponents – all of which appear in the top-28 of the ratings. Additionally, UA is 7-3 against teams rated No. 51-73, for a total 14-8 mark against Top 100 RPI teams … The Cats have 16 games remaining this season against schools rated No. 1-73, which means that nearly 70-percent of UA’s games will be against such teams this season … All 10 Pac-10 schools rank in the top 73 of the RPI, with seven in the top 27 spots … The Pac-10 is the only conference to have all of its schools rated in the top-75, although the SEC has 11 of 12.
The Last Six: The Wildcats, who earlier this season strung together 15-consectuive victories, have put together a modest six-game winning streak while outscoring their foes 48-27. It’s a welcomed stretch after UA was swept at California earlier this month and actually dropped five of six. Since then, the Cats have found their winning ways with half of the wins coming on the road, including on Tuesday at No. 1 Arizona State. Here’s a quick look at what UA has put together during the six-game streak: UA is hitting .349 over its last six, just under its .352 season clip … The Cats have 20 doubles, four triples and four homers in the stretch, which is a total 28 extra base hits out of 73 base-knocks as a team … Robert Refsnyder (.440), Steve Selsky (.435) and Rafael Valenzuela (.417) lead the club offensively … UA’s pitching staff has an ERA of 3.17, an opposing batting average of .223 and has struck out 37 batters against nine walks.
The Road Ahead: Well, it’s really not the road ahead; rather, the Wildcats are looking forward to a nice late-season stretch of home games. Arizona will play 12 of its next 16 games at home at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium. Included is this weekend’s series against the Bruins, followed by a weekend in Los Angeles against USC and a single non-conference game again in Tempe against ASU. From there, Arizona hosts Cal State Bakersfield, Arizona State and Stanford in consecutive weekends to close out the 2010 home schedule. UA finishes the regular season on the road in Corvallis, Ore., against Oregon State.
In the NCAA: Arizona ranks highly as a team in the NCAA in several statistical categories. Here’s where the Wildcats ranked at the start of this week:
Category Stat NCAA Rank
Batting Ave. .355 4
Runs/game 8.8 19
Hits 445 19
Triples 19 6
Stolen Bases 71 24
Sacrifice Bunts 32 28
ERA 3.96 27
Double Plays 39 21
Winning % .743 21
Way To Go Failo: Rafael Valenzuela, nicknamed “Failo”, was one of UA’s key players last week as the Wildcats swept Washington State and extended their modest win streak to five games. Valenzuela capped off a sensational week for himself and the team with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to hand Arizona a 12-11 come-from-behind victory on Sunday against Washington State, clinching UA’s first Pac-10 series sweep of the season. The Wildcats trailed 11-8 entering the bottom of the ninth, but rallied for four runs in the final frame to win with Valenzuela lining a single to left field with two outs in a tie game to plate the winning run. The Sunday performance came on the heels of a career-high five-RBI game on Saturday for Valenzuela when the senior helped lead the Wildcats to a 13-6 rout of the Cougars. Among Valenzuela’s three hits on the night was a three-run double to right center to break open and 8-4 game and extend the lead to 11-4. On Tuesday at ASU, Valenzuela was 1-for-3 with a double, a hit by pitch and a run scored. He is hitting .438 (14-for-32) with 11 runs scored and 11 RBI in his last eight games.
Bandy On Bench Award Watch List: Arizona sophomore catcher Jett Bandy was added to the official watch list for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John’s Pizza, The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced last week. The 6-foot-4 Bandy, who has started all 36 of UA’s games, including 29 behind the plate, is third in the Pac-10 with a .424 batting average. He has collected 59 hits and scored 44 runs, marks that rank with Steve Selsky as the two best figures in the conference. Bandy’s on-base percentage (.514) and slugging percentage (.655) rank second and fourth in the conference, respectively. He is one of five Wildcats with 30 RBI. In 83 career games, Bandy has a .356 batting average with 108 base hits. He has belted 38 doubles in his one and a half seasons and roped nine homers. He has more career walks (30) than strikeouts (28), and already ranks in UA’s top-5 for career hit by pitches with 27.
Miscellaneous Diamond Notes: Arizona continues to be one of the nation’s top offensive teams, boasting averages of 8.44 runs and 12.58 hits per game … UA’s pitchers have held opponents to 4.8 runs and 9.1 hits per game … Steve Selsky saw his 18-game hitting streak come to an end last Friday, while Jett Bandy’s 13-game streak ended on Tuesday… UA has six players who have strung together 10+ games consecutively with a hit … UA has three players with five home runs or more – Steve Selsky (6), Jett Bandy (5) and Joey Rickard (5) – which matches the total number of players with 5+ homers from a season ago … The Cats have played 21 games under the three-hour mark out of 36 games this season … The Cats have 98 two-out RBI this season, which is 43 more than their opponents have. In fact, UA hits .322 as a team with two outs compared to opponents .233 clip … Alex Mejia (SS), Joey Rickard (CF) and Steve Selsky (RF) are the only three players to start all 36 games at the same position. Jett Bandy has started all 36 games, but has 29 starts at catcher, three at first base and four as designated hitter.
Approaching 1,000 Wins: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez is quickly approaching one of the greatest coaching milestones: 1,000 Division I career victories. To date, Lopez has 996 career victories. Already this year, Ohio State’s Bob Todd and LSU’s Paul Mainieri, Sam Houston State’s Mark Johnson, and South Carolina’s Ray Tanner and Rutgers’ Fred Hill have reached 1,000 Division I coaching victories. Currently, 45 coaches have reached the milestone. Lopez’s career Division I coaching record is 996-611-7 (.620).
300 Wins: Arizona coach Andy Lopez already has reached one coaching milestone this season: 300 wins as the skipper of the Wildcats. UA’s 11-7 victory over New Mexico on March 24 marked win No. 300 in Lopez’s nine seasons in Tucson. At Arizona, Lopez holds a record of 309-193-1 (.616).
Selsky Powering Up: Sophomore right fielder Steve Selsky has racked up 20 extra base hits in his last 25 games after hitting just two extra base hits in the first 10 games of the season. Not that Selsky was struggling at the plate to begin the season as he was actually hitting an even .400 through 10 contests. Interestingly, Selsky’s batting average has risen with increased power numbers in the last 25 games. Selsky is now hitting .432 for the season and has collected 10 doubles, four triples and six homers in the last 25 games.
More on Steve: Steve Selsky has asserted himself as one of the top offensive players in the Pac-10 through the first half of the 2010 season. Selsky leads all conference players with 65 hits on the season and his .430 average is No. 2 in the league. The right fielder’s on-base percentage of .500 is tied for No. 3 in the conference, while his .682 slugging percentage is No. 2 in the Pac. He is third in triples (4) and is tied for fourth in home runs (6) among all league players. Selsky, who drove in only 21 runs last season, is tied with teammate Joey Rickard for No. 3 with 38 RBI and is tied for No. 1 with Bandy in runs scored with 44.
Clean Takeoff: Sophomore catcher/first baseman Jett Bandy has been one of UA’s top offensive performers in the team’s first 35 games. Bandy, who tied for the team lead with 21 doubles a year ago, leads the club in in on-base percentage (.514), while his .655 slugging percentage and .424 batting average trails only Steve Selsky for second-best. He also is tied for first in runs (44), is second in hits (59) and home runs (5), and third in RBI (33). Just as impressive, in 139 official at-bats, Bandy has struck out only nine times on the season while walking 17 times and being hit by 13 pitches. For his career, Bandy has struck out just 28 times in 300 at-bats, or less than once every 10 at-bats. Pretty good figures for a power bat in the lineup. Bandy was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the first time in his career on March 22.
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 .396 (88-for-222) with 40-percent of his hits going for extra bases (28 2B, 8 HR). In the 58-game span, Bandy has collected 49 RBI and scored 54 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 now 5th all-time at Arizona in career HBP after being hit 13 times this season for a career total of 27.
Refsnyder Rollin’: Freshman Robert Refsnyder is one of four regular freshman starters for the Wildcats and he as quietly put together a sensational first half of the season. In fact, Refsnyder has become one of the Pac-10’s top hitter as his .419 batting is fourth-best in the league. Refsnyder, who can play various positions including left field, third base and second base, is third among UA regulars with that 4.19 batting average to go with 28 runs scored and 34 RBI. His batting average currently ranks No. 4 in the Pac-10, while his .484 on base percentage is No. 7 in the league. His 57 hits are third-most on the club and third-most in the conference. Refsnyder has also stolen six bases in eight attempts on the season and has been hit by a pitch eight times, which is tied for second-most on the squad.
Scoring Early And Often: One thing that the Wildcats have been extremely consistent at doing over the course of the season is scoring runs in bunches early in games. While the Wildcats have out-scored opponents 304-176 on the season, they have dominated opponents by a margin of 172-78 through the first four innings of games. The early leads have been welcomed by the pitching staff and often led to victories. In fact, Arizona is 24-2 this season when it leads after the sixth inning, much because the early leads in games have led to a 229-109 margin after six innings of play. Indeed, the Cats like to score early and often in games.
The Long Ball: Arizona isn’t known as a big home run hitting team in 2010. In fact, through 36 games, the Wildcats have just 24 home runs. However, UA has started to drive more balls out of the park recently, particularly in the trip the Pacific Northwest two weeks ago. The Cats had a pair of multi-homer games (they have three on the season) against Washington in Seattle, including a three home run day on Sunday. Another homer at Gonzaga last Monday pushed the UA’s tally to 16 round-trippers in the team’s last 16, much improvement over the open stretch of the season when the Cats tallied just eight dingers in 17 games. But, the Cats went without a homer last weekend in the WSU series and still stand at 24 on the year. For the season, UA has a record of 16-4 when it hits at least one home run and is 11-5 in games without one.
‘K’urt Heyer: Entering this week’s action, freshman Kurt Heyer is fourth amongst all Pac-10 pitchers with 68 strikeouts. Of his 68 strikeouts, 27 have been looking, which checks in tops in the league. Heyer’s arm has accounted for 68 of UA’s 261 strikeouts as a team (26.1 percent) despite throwing just 18.4 percent of UA’s innings as a team. On the year, Heyer has a 6-0 record in nine starts with an ERA of 2.15. He has allowed just 11 walks on the season and his 1.69 walks per nine innings ratio is the best mark of all Pac-10 pitchers.
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. Heyer surpassed the 13-strikeouts with a 14-strikeout performance on April 16 against Washington State.
Simon Says: Arizona sophomore right-hander Kyle Simon has steadied himself after an up-and-down start to the season and turned in the best performance of his career at Washington on April 11. In the game against the Huskies, Simon tossed a complete game as he allowed just one run on three hits. Earlier this year, Simon won his first decision of the year on Feb 21 against Utah Valley in an eight-inning effort in which he allowed just one run and struck out seven. He then struggled in his next two starts and saw his ERA peak at 5.06 following a second-straight loss on March 6 against Cal State Fullerton. Since, Simon has been brilliant, picking up four wins in five starts, including last week in Seattle, to improve his record to 6-2 and lower his ERA to 3.39. In his last 50.1 innings pitched, Simon has allowed just 20 runs – 15 earned (a 2.66 ERA) – and has 22 strikeouts against 10 walks.
Save What? Despite having the third-most wins of any Pac-10 team, Arizona has the fewest saves of any team – four. There are several plausible explanations for that. First, UA has lacked a go-to pitcher that has performed well in the role as a closer. Bryce Bandilla got the first crack, then Nick Cunningham and Tyler Hale. While all have been solid overall, no one has claimed the job permanently, and recently Cory Bernard has had a few ninth-inning appearances despite no save situations. Last month, UA’s 15-game winning streak was snapped after Nick Cunningham allowed four runs in the ninth and Oregon won 9-8. A second reason for the lack of saves is the fact that Arizona has 18 wins with margins of victory greater than four runs, including five games with double-digit margins. Lastly, when Arizona has failed to close out games on the mound, it has had the luxury to do so at the plate more times than not at home. Playing 28 of 36 games at home, Arizona is 7-3 in games decided by one run or less, with four walk off wins and two decided by UA’s last at-bat of the game in the eighth inning. Interestingly, Arizona has picked up two saves in its last four games, with Augey Bill earning one Cunningham picking up his second of the year.
Joltin’ Joey: Freshman centerfielder Joey Rickard has kicked off his collegiate career in impressive fashion. Through 36 games – all starts – Rickard is hitting .338 with seven doubles, three triples and is second on the team with five home runs, including a grand slam against Sacramento State on March 20. The Las Vegas native’s 38 RBI not only lead the Wildcats, but ranks third for all Pac-10 players. He also ranks tied for fourth in the league in hits (52) and sixth in total bases (80). He was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on March 15 following a sensational five-game stretch. In the field, he’s patrolled the spacious Kindall Field outfield like a veteran, serving as a key component in the middle of UA’s defense.
Steady Senior: On the youngest team in the Pac-10, Rafael Valenzuela offers a dose of veteran leadership. The senior first baseman is hitting .329 on the season and is one of the team’s top run-producers. Valenzuela, who has played every position in his career except catcher, pitcher and centerfield, has scored 43 runs and collected 34 RBI. He is one of the club’s top extra-base threats with 11 doubles, five triples and three home runs on the season, for a solid .538 slugging percentage. He is also a swift 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts. Valenzuela turned in one of his best weekends in the Pacific Northwest April 9-12, as he helped lead UA to two wins over Washington and one over Gonzaga. In the four games, Valenzuela was 8-for-16 at the plate with two homers, a double and a triple. He scored six runs and collected four RBI.
Seth Steps Up: One of UA’s top performers during the first half of the season is freshman third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean. The first-year Wildcat is hitting .400 since March 5, which has improved his season batting average from .176 on March 6 all the way to its current .369. Mejias-Brean has also been UA’s fourth-best run-producer during the stretch, collecting 24 RBI over the last 29 games while scoring 19 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 (twice) – have been named Pac-10 Player/Pitcher of the Week this season, along with sophomores Jett Bandy and Steve Selsky … Selsky was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on March 29 after hitting 10-for-20 on the week and accounting for 17 total runs to go with two home runs … Bandy was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on March 22 after hitting .600 over a five-game stretch in which the Wildcats improved their winning streak to 11 games … 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 what was then the 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 was again named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on April 19 after striking out 14 hitters in 8.2 innings against Washington State. The 14 K’s are the second-most ever by a UA freshman.
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. The Wildcats improved to 3-1 on the season against ranked teams with a 4-2 victory at No. 1 Arizona State on April 20. UA’s season total of games against Top 25 teams will nearly double this weekend as the No. 6 Bruins come to Tucson.
UA’s 15-Game Winning Streak: Arizona mounted a 15-game winning streak from March 7 – March 27, the sixth-longest winning streak in program history and the seventh-longest home winning streak. Included in the streak were wins over Cal State Fullerton (1), Saint Joseph’s (2), Northern Colorado (3), Wichita State (2), Sacramento State (3), New Mexico (2) and Oregon (2).
Turning Two: The Wildcats have turned 40 double plays (36 on ground balls) on the season which is second-most in the Pac-10 with Bryce Ortega and Alex Mejia factoring into 27 and 30, respectively. The total double plays ranked No. 19 in the entire nation entering the week and has been a pitcher’s best friend throughout the season. The two usual suspects in turning two have also been UA’s busiest defenders. Mejia leads the Pac-10 in total assists (130), followed closely by Ortega, who is third (100). That’s some good early season work for the middle of UA’s infield.
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 (2,601 in 98 seasons). All-time, Arizona is 2,526-1,334-22.
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.
Double the Fun: The Wildcats have hit at least one double in 33 of the 36 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 87 of their last 93 games (93.5 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 doubles in the double-header against Saint Joseph’s on March 11, improving the season total to 30. The Cats added seven in three games against Northern Colorado and seven more against Wichita State, and their current total of 83 on the season averages out to 2.31 per game. Jett Bandy, who tied for the team lead with 21 a season ago, again leads the club with 17 to date, while Steve Selsky has 12 and Rafael Valenzuela has 11.
.300 Club: Through 28 games, the Wildcats are hitting .355 as a team, in line with recent UA clubs that have finished the season over .300. 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 1,071 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.
Hitting in the Pac-10: Here’s a look where Arizona ranks statistically in the Pac-10 in offensive categories (all games) entering this weekend:
Category Stat Pac-10 Rank
Batting Avg. .352 1
Slugging % .502 2
On Base % .427 2
Runs Scored 304 t-1
Hits 453 1
RBI 275 1
Doubles 83 t-2
Triples 19 2
HR 24 5
Walks 130 5
Strikeouts 168 10 (fewest)
HPB 50 t-2
Stolen Bases 74 2
On Deck: The Wildcats will hit the road for a three-game series at USC April 30 – May 2. Arizona will then play a single road game the following Tuesday on May 4 at Arizona State, before returning home for nine-straight games.