Arizona Baseball Notes
Feb. 18, 2003
Notes From the UC Irvine Series: The Arizona pitching staff dominated the UC Irvine hitters in UA's three-game road sweep in Irvine ... The Wildcat arms limited UCI to just 13 hits in the three games combined. The Anteaters hit a meager .144 (13 for 90) in the series, while Arizona's team ERA was a minuscule 0.33 after giving up just one run in 27 innings ... Junior Joe Little set the tempo for the UA pitching staff with seven solid innings in Friday's series opener. Little gave up just three hits while striking out a career-high 11 UCI hitters. Freshman John Meloan pitched a perfect eighth and ninth innings to close out the 3-0 win for his first collegiate save ... Junior Sean Rierson followed Little's Friday night gem by tossing a complete game 2-hitter in Saturday's 6-0 win. Rierson gave up just a pair of infield singles and did not allow a runner past first after the first inning. He struck out five and did not walk a batter in the game (more on Rierson's gem later in the notes) ... Richie Gardner closed out the outstanding starting pitching performances on the road with 7 1/3 innings of work in the series sweeping finale. Gardner gave up just one run on six hits. He struck out six for his second win of the season. Closer Mark Worrell tossed the final 1 2/3 innings, striking out three of the eight hitters he faced ... Offensively, sophomore Jeff Van Houten led the way at the plate. The right fielder led all Arizona players with six hits in 12 at bats (.500) and scored a team-high tying three runs ... Freshman Nick Hundley went 4 for 8 in two starts, including two doubles ... Classmate Trevor Crowe finished with six hits and a .400 average ... Freshman Derek Decater scored a team-high tying three runs, while junior Moises Duran posted only one hit, but made it count in the form of a grand slam ... As a team Arizona hit .310 for the weekend with seven doubles ... Arizona has now won seven straight games over the Anteaters and is 13-2-1 all-time against UCI.
Sean Rierson - National, Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Junior Sean Rierson's complete game 2-hitter against UC Irvine on Feb. 15 earned the right-hander Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger National and Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors. His national recognition is the seventh all-time at UA and the first for an Arizona pitcher since former Wildcat Ben Diggins was honored the week of Feb. 28, 2000. The conference honor is the 25th all-time for a Wildcat pitcher and the first in Rierson's career. Rierson became the first Arizona pitcher to toss a complete game 2-hitter in nearly 20 years. Former Major Leaguer Joe Magrane was the last Arizona pitcher to go the distance on the strength of a 2-hitter in a 10-1 win over UNLV on Feb. 4, 1984. Rierson's 2-hitter also had the added bonus of being a shutout which was last done by David Carley, James McDonald and Jeff Hird in a combined 1-0 shutout of Pepperdine on two hits on Feb. 6, 1986. Interestingly, the Wildcats got only one hit in that game, which was Todd Trafton's game-winning solo home run in the seventh inning.
Road Series Sweep: Arizona's three-game sweep at UC Irvine Feb. 14-16 was the first road series sweep for Arizona since the 1999 team swept three games at Washington State on April 17-18.
Holding 'Em Down: UC Irvine's one run scored in three games was the fewest allowed by an Arizona team in a three-game series since the 1997 team shutout California for three straight games April 4-6. The 1997 squad gave up just 14 hits to the Golden Bears, while the 2003 team surrendered just 13 to UCI in three games. The 1997 series against Cal was the last time Arizona posted back-to-back shutouts as well.
Still Streaking: Pat Reilly's carry-over hitting streak from last season lives on at 14-straight after the sophomore collected at least one hit in each of the three games he played against UC Irvine. Reilly hit successfully in each of Arizona's final six games last season and has at least one hit in all eight of the games he has played in 2003. The feat is even more impressive when considering that he had just one at bat as a defensive replacement in the Feb. 15 game against UC Irvine and still managed to extend the streak. Classmate Richard Mercado carried over a three-game hitting streak which now stands at eight in a row after getting a hit in all five games he has played this season ... On a similar note, Brian Anderson has collected at least one hit in all nine games for Arizona this season, while Brad Boyer and Trevor Crowe have at least one hit in all eight games they have played.
The Last Time...: ...Arizona played two extra inning games in a series was back in 1997 against California in Berkeley. Unlike the 2003 version against Baylor, Arizona went on to win both of those contests, defeating the Bears 8-7 in 15 innings on February 28 and again 2-1 in 10 innings a day later on March 1.
Back-To-Back: Brad Boyer and Trevor Crowe's home runs in Feb. 8's game against Baylor not only marked their first home runs at Arizona, but it was also the first time in nearly a year that UA players went yard in succession. Former Wildcat Marc Kaiser and current sophomore Jeff Van Houten went back-to-back on Feb. 22 of last season against UC Irvine.
Getting Offensive: The Wildcat offense has posted some impressive numbers through the first nine games of the season. The Wildcats are hitting .356 as a team and have posted 94 runs, 132 hits, 27 doubles and 11 home runs. The team has a .555 slugging percentage, a .400 on-base percentage and is averaging over 10 runs, 14 hits and nine RBIs per game this season.
Lucky Seven: So far this season the seventh inning has been very kind to the Arizona offense and not so kind to its opponents. Through nine games Arizona has out-scored its opponents 21-0 in the seventh inning alone. The 21 runs account for 22-percent of the total runs scored for UA this season. The Wildcats are also out-scoring their opponents 18-2 in the fifth inning. See page five of the notes for the inning-by-inning breakdown on Arizona's scoring
Wrapping Things Up: There is not an Arizona player that has gotten off to a hotter start than sophomore Jeff Van Houten. The right fielder leads Arizona in average, hits, runs and on base percentage through nine games in 2003. Although he has played well in nearly every game this year, his series finale performances are what have given him the lead over his teammates.
Van Houten's First Two Games of a Series vs. The Finale Games One and Two (Six games) Series Finale (Three Games)Average .400 (8 for 20) .688 (11 for 16)Hits 8 11Runs 8 9RBIs 7 5OB % .423 .688
Upcoming: Arizona returns home to host Minnesota for a three-game series at Sancet Field Feb. 21-23 and Oklahoma State for a single game on Monday, Feb. 24 ... The Wildcats last met up with Minnesota in the 1999 NCAA postseason. The Gophers defeated Arizona 4-3 in the opening round game ... The 2003 series against Arizona will mark the season opening games for Minnesota ... The Gophers return five starters, 14 pitchers and 24 letterwinners from last season's Big Ten regular season championship team ... Leading the way among the offensive returners is senior second baseman Luke Appert. Appert hit .361 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs as a junior in 2002. Joining him will be his double play partner and classmate Scott Welch. As a junior Welch hit .339 with 10 doubles and 33 RBIs ... On the mound UM returns starters CJ Woodrow, Jay Gagner and Craig Molldrem, as well as reliever Matt Loberg. Woodrow led Minnesota with eight wins and 81 strike outs last season. Gagner went 4-0 in 12 appearances and Molldrem recorded a 5-4 record with a 4.67 ERA in 15 appearances ... UM is coached by John Anderson. Now in his 22nd year in Minneapolis, Anderson has posted a 760-473-3 record with the Gophers.
Projected Arizona Pitchers vs. MinnesotaFriday - LHP Joe Little (2-1, 2.33 ERA)Saturday - RHP Sean Rierson (1-0, 6.19 ERA)Sunday - RHP Richie Gardner (2-0, 3.09 ERA)
Arizona-Minnesota All-Time: Minnesota leads the all-time series between the two schools 16-10-1. The two schools met for the first time in the 1956 College World Series with UM tallying two wins, including a 12-1 win in the national championship game, to Arizona's one. The last meeting between the two schools came in the 1999 NCAA tournament with Minnesota scoring a 4-3 win over the Wildcats in the opening game of the postseason.
Thanks To Minnesota: Arizona can thank Minnesota for providing it with one of the greatest collegiate coaches in baseball history. Three-time national championship winning coach Jerry Kindall graduated from Minnesota and was a key member of the 1956 team that defeated Arizona 12-1 for the national championship in Omaha. Kindall came to Arizona in 1973 after serving as an assistant coach at Minnesota for legendary Gophers' head coach Dick Seibert. In 24 seasons as Arizona's top man Kindall recorded a school record 860 wins, won the first of what is now 16 team national championships in school history in 1976, added College World Series titles in 1980 and 1986 and was also named national coach of the year three times.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys come to Tucson for a single game against the Wildcats ... OSU is one of four Big 12 teams that Arizona will take on this season ... The Cowboys will take on Dayton and Minnesota in single games on Saturday and Sunday before Monday's game against UA ... Entering the week, OSU is 2-3 on the season, having defeated No. 18 Stetson and Gonzaga ... The Cowboys return just one starter, seven pitchers and 17 letterwinners from last season's 37-21 team ... Senior Jose Virgil has gotten of to a fine start in the early season. The infielder is batting a team-high .400 with three runs scored through five games ... OSU is led by head coach Tom Holliday. Entering his seventh season in Stillwater, Holliday has posted a career 247-126 record.
Projected Arizona Pitcher vs. Oklahoma StateMonday - RHP John Meloan (1-0, 1.69 ERA)
Arizona-Oklahoma State All-time: A longtime nemesis of Arizona, the two schools met for the first time in the College World Series in 1954. OSU prevailed 5-4 in 14 innings to eliminate the Wildcats from Omaha. The Pokes proved to be a thorn in Arizona's CWS side as OSU also eliminated Arizona from the postseason in Omaha a year later in 1955 and again in 1959. Oklahoma State also ended Arizona's postseason run in the 1993 season with a come-from-behind, 11-10, win in the NCAA regional final game in Stillwater. The two schools last met in the 1999 season with the Cowboys prevailing 7-4. All-time OSU holds a 9-2 advantage in 11 meetings with the Wildcats.
Going Yard The First Time Out: Nick Hundley placed himself in some good company in his first game as an Arizona Wildcat. Hundley hit a home run in his first official at bat in the Cardinal and Navy on Jan. 30 against BYU, making him the first player to do so since former All-American Shelley Duncan did the same in his freshman season in 1999.
Individual Record Setting Game: Richard Mercado's six-hit afternoon against BYU on Feb. 1 was the first for an Arizona player in 10 seasons and tied the school record for base knocks in a single game. The sophomore backstop tied former UA greats John Glenn (1972), Ron Hassey (1974), Les Pearsey (1978) and Chris Gump (1993) for the record. His five runs scored on the afternoon tied him with 21 other former players for the second-most in a single game ... Freshman Derek Decater's 11 total bases in the blowout win placed him tied for sixth in school history.
Six-Hit Games At ArizonaJohn Glenn vs. Iowa 3/30/1972Ron Hassey vs. Colorado 3/22/1974Les Pearsey vs. Azusa Pacific 2/20/1978Chris Gump vs. Cal (10 inn.) 4/18/1993Richard Mercado vs. BYU 2/01/2003
Scoring At Will: Arizona's 52 runs scored in the three games against BYU is tied for the third-most in a series in school history. Arizona posted 64 runs in two games against St. Francis in 1995 to establish the school record and the 1965 team scored 56 times in three games against New Mexico. In 1998 Arizona scored 52 total runs in a three-game series with Portland State. The 32-run game marks the third-highest run total for a single game at Arizona. The Wildcats tallied a school record 40 runs in a game against St. Francis in 1995 and put up 36 against the Lobos in 1965. The 29-run margin of victory against the Cougars ties for the second-largest ever at Arizona, trailing only the 30-run advantage the 1995 team enjoyed over St. Francis.
Runs in a Series Most Runs in Game1995 64 vs. St. Francis (2 games) 40 vs. St. Francis (2/22/95)1965 56 vs. New Mexico (3 games) 36 vs. New Mexico (5/7/65)1998 52 vs. Portland State (3 games) 32 vs. BYU (2/1/03)2003 52 vs. BYU (3 games) 31 vs. Colorado (3/19/51)
Waving Them In: Of the 15 players that had at least one plate appearance in the three-game series with BYU (Jan. 30 -Feb. 1), 14 of them scored at least one run. A total of 12 of those players scored at least two runs and of which seven players came around to touch home five or more times.
Record Tying Afternoon: Arizona's 32-3 win against BYU on Feb. 1 tied a number of aged records at UA. The Wildcats sent 61 hitters to the plate and rapped out 32 hits in the win. Both marks tied school records for a nine inning game set 38 years ago (5/7/65) against New Mexico.
Starting Spots To Be Tough To Come By: It appears coach Lopez will face a 'good' problem this season. A couple of different spots in the lineup will be hotly contested this year, with playing time coming as the big reward. Freshman Nick Hundley and sophomore Richard Mercado both made a strong claim to the starting catcher role. Hundley has made five starts behind the dish this season and has hit .400 with a home run, four doubles and three RBIs. Mercado is currently second on the team in average (.478) and has six RBIs and eight runs scored. The outfield situation also appears to be up for grabs. Freshman Derek Decater, who is limited to the DH role early on due to off season shoulder surgery, has played in five games, making four starts. The first-year Wildcat is batting .421 with three RBIs and seven runs scored. Joining Decater in the mix is sophomore Jeff Van Houten. The second-year starter is taking full advantage of Decater's rehab with a team-high .528 average, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored in nine games. Starting center fielder Brian Anderson is hitting .359 with nine runs and six RBIs, while freshman Trevor Crowe is batting .452 with eight RBIs and nine runs scored in his first eight games. Throw in Chris Frey (.333, 3 RBIs and a run) and JC transfer Dallas Haught, who is hitting .286, and there will certainly be a lot at stake during practices this season.
Game In Nogales, Ariz.: The Arizona baseball team will host New Mexico for one game in Nogales, Ariz., this season. Although it has been a while since UA made a trip south of Tucson to play, the appearance is not all together unprecedented. Looking back into the past schedules it has been found that the 1963 team played a game in the Arizona border town. The Wildcats defeated former WAC foe Wyoming 8-1 on April 2 in the only other known game played in Nogales.
Head Coach Andy Lopez: Andy Lopez, now in his second season at Arizona, has posted a career 724-445-6 (.619) record. In his three previous coaching stops, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine and Florida, he has averaged eight more wins in his second year than in the first. At Florida his second-year team won a school record 50 games, 18 more than the year before, and advanced to the College World Series.
Andy Lopez's First vs. Second SeasonsCal State Dominguez Hills Pepperdine Florida1983 15-27 (.357) 1989 41-19-1 (.680) 1995 32-24 (.571)1984 25-35-1 (.418) 1990 37-23 (.617) 1996 50-18 (.735)
Surpassing 2002 Early On: Arizona's opening series provided the Wildcats an opportunity to surpass a number of single game highs from last season. In just three games, the Wildcats either equaled or went by the game highs of last season in team runs in an inning, runs scored, team hits, team RBIs, individual at bats, individual hits, individual doubles, individual triples, stolen bases and total bases for a single game. (All the single game marks can be found on page five of the notes)
Single Game Highs - 2002 vs. 2003 2002 2003Team Runs (inning) 10 10Team Runs scored 23 32Team Hits 17 32Team RBIs 20 25Extra Base Hits 8 8Individual Runs 4 5Individual Hits 5 6Individual Doubles 2 2Individual Triples 2 2Individual Stolen Bases 3 3Individual Total Bases 9 11
100 Years Of Arizona Baseball: This year will mark the 100th year of Arizona baseball. Since beginning with a 6-1 record in 1904 under head coach B.L. Cosgrove, the Wildcat program has found enormous success in its first 99 seasons. Arizona has recorded 2,248 victories (seventh all-time among Division I teams), won three national championships, finished second three other times, appeared in 14 College World Series, made 29 NCAA regional appearances, had 128 players get drafted and sign professional contracts (of which 52 reached the Major Leagues) and placed 73 players on 54 different All-America teams.
The Fall Season: The Wildcats played 14 intra squad games last fall and a number of players stood out in the early competition. Returning starter Joe Little led all pitchers with 21 strike outs in just 16 innings pitched. The southpaw also tallied an impressive 2.25 ERA. Newcomer Richie Gardner got a leg up for the third spot in the starting rotation with a 3-0 record and a team best 1.13 ERA in 16 fall innings. Fellow newcomer Jordan Brown went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 12 strike outs. Junior Sean Rierson, the staff ace the past two seasons, tallied nine K's and a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings pitched. Offensively, junior Mo Duran led all players with a .412 average and six home runs. John Hardy trailed closely with a .409 average and a team-high 14 RBIs. Newcomers Nick Hundley and Trevor Crowe impressed in their first appearances in the Cardinal and Navy, hitting .310 and .386 respectively. Crowe led all players with 17 hits, 10 stolen bases and 16 runs scored, while Hundley chipped in with 12 RBIs and a pair of home runs.