Baseball Welcomes Holy Cross
March 3, 2009
Arizona (4-4) vs. Holy Cross (0-3)
Jerry Kindall Field
Tues., March 3 – 7 p.m.
Wed., March 4 – 7 p.m.
Some Series Themes: One of the two clubs will snap a three-game losing streak on Tuesday as both are coming off a three-game sweep over the weekend … For the Wildcats, the visiting Georgia Bulldogs handed them their first home sweep since 2006, when Cal State Fullerton (3/17-3/19) and Mississippi State (3/10-3/12) won six straight games in Tucson … The Crusaders continue a west coast swing to open the 2009 season after dropping three games at Loyola Marymount over the weekend … Both teams struggled offensively in their respective weekend series’, with Wildcats batting .243 against UGA and the Crusaders hitting .270 against LMU … The pitching staffs for each are also reeling from rough outings, as UA’s rotation posted a 9.67 ERA over the weekend compared to a 12.58 mark by the Holy Cross staff.
UGA Series Recap: After sweeping a pair of road games at UNLV with relative ease, the Wildcats ran into one of the nation’s hottest teams early in the 2009 season … The Georgia Bulldogs handed UA a series sweep in Tucson – the first for an opponent since Cal State Fullerton and Mississippi State did so in back-to-back weekends in March 2006 … The Pac-10’s top offensive team through the first five games of the season, Arizona struggled to hit .243 in three games against Georgia to score 15 runs through three games … A pitching staff depleted by some nagging early season injury issues also was stretched thin, yielding a 9.67 ERA and a .392 opponent batting average in the three games … Only four Wildcats hit better .300 on the weekend (Rafael Valenzuela, 4-for-7; Mike Weldon, 2-for-6; Dillon Baird, 2-for-6; Steve Selsky, 3-for-10) … Bobby Coyle was the top run-producer, driving in three runs in the series with a pair of doubles and a solo home run.
Arizona vs. Holy Cross — The All-Time Series: Tuesday’s game will mark the first meeting in the history of the two programs.
A Quick Glance at the Crusaders: Holy Cross opened its 2009 season with a three-game road trip at Loyola Marymount … The Crusaders dropped all three games, losing 4-3 in the first game, 16-5 in the second game and 14-3 in the finale … The Crusaders are hitting .270 and have scored 11 runs through the three games … Of the team’s 27 hits, only six have gone for extra bases … The pitching staff posted a 12.58 ERA in the opening weekend, allowing 19 walks while striking out only five hitters … Nick Ciardiello has been an impressive performer at the plate, hitting 7-for-11 (.636) and driving in three runs … Eric Oxford (4-for-10) and Josh Sills (4-for-13, 3 runs) have also chipped in at the plate.
Closing Time: 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 stands alone with 20 career saves.
Off to the Races: The Wildcats are in the midst of a rigorous schedule that includes only six off days in the first month of the season. The Wildcats are in the middle of a stretch that includes 18 games in 24 days. Fortunately, last week’s road trip to UNLV were the only games on the road. UA will continue a 13-game home stand with Holy Cross (two games) and UMASS (three games) this week, then will turn around and welcome Oklahoma State and Michigan to town next week to close out the home stand.
Butler Stepping Up: Junior catcher Daniel Butler has been on of the top surprises early in the season, showing an improved bat to compliment his defensive skills. Butler has started five of UA’s first eight games at catcher and has gone 8-for-17 (.471) at the plate, which leads the team. He has scored six runs and driven in five, while slugging .706 and reaching base at a .625 clip.
Moving Up: Bryce Ortega opened the season batting out of the No. 9 slot in the order. Last week he was moved up to the No. 2 spot, and was inserted as the leadoff hitter on Sunday when Rafael Valenzuela missed a game with a hamstring injury Ortega’s rise to the top of the order is due to his consistency, proving to be on of the club’s top offensive threats early in the season. Ortega leads the team with 13 runs scored (five more than the next Wildcat) and is tied for the second-most RBI on the team with seven. The sophomore shortstop is hitting .433 (13-for-30) on the season and has an on-base percentage of .541. Once on base, Ortega has been the top base-stealer, stealing five bases in five attempts.
Banged Up: Several Wildcats are battling through non-serious injuries early in the season. UA starter Matt Veltmann has been dealing with an ailing back injury that has lingered from pre-season workouts, while Rafael Valenzuela and Dillon Baird both suffered injuries in the Georgia series. Valenzuela tweaked a hamstring in Saturday’s game and missed Sunday’s game, while Baird injured his shoulder while diving for a ball in foul territory late in Saturday’s ballgame. Both are listed as day-to-day.
Offensive Output: Though Arizona struggled offensively against Georgia, its season offensive numbers are still pretty solid. The Wildcats are hitting .310 as a team and have scored 68 runs on 98 hits. The team is slugging .478, with 24 doubles, four triples and six home runs. In all, 12 different Wildcats have scored at least two runs and those same 12 all have at least one RBI. The Wildcats have been caught stealing just twice in 17 attempts (15-17).
Two-Out Pitching Needs to Improve: One of the areas the Arizona pitching staff needs to improve is pitching tough with runners on base and two outs. Opponents, who are hitting .326 overall, are hitting even better with runners on base in scoring situations. With runners on base and two outs, opponents are hitting .352 (25-for-71) on the season. With runners in scoring position and two outs, opponents are hitting .353 (18-for-51) on the season.
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 .358 on the season with runners in scoring position and .654 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 17 runs in 26 chances. Of course, more chances in the situations would be nice, too.
Steady Behind the Plate: Arizona has the luxury of playing two excellent defensive players behind the plate. Juniors Dwight Childs and Daniel Butler both will help mentor a young Wildcat pitching staff as they bring a wealth of experience to the field. Childs (40) and Butler (19) split the starting duties a year ago and will continue to do so this season to keep each other fresh. Already in 2009, both have proved valuable behind the plate as they have been on the receiving end of 48 strikeouts from the UA pitching staff.
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.
Head Coach Andy Lopez: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez enters his eighth season as the Wildcats’ skipper with a 254-163-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 943-581-7. Last season, Lopez notched his 900th career victory against Sacramento State and guided the Wildcats to consecutive 40+ win seasons -- a feat the UA program had not accomplished since 1985-86.
Strong Finish: After bottoming out at a season-low .193 with the batting average after going 0 for 5 against Indiana State on April 11, Brad Glenn went on a tear at the plate to finish the 2008 season. Over the final 30 games of 2008, Glenn hit a team-best .373 and drove in a team-high 35 runs over the final half of the season. In addition, he led all Wildcats with 34 runs scored over the stretch, and tied Jon Gaston for the second-most homeruns in the 30 games (8). He also posted the team’s top mark for slugging percentage (.667) and was second in on-base percentage (.441).
One More Time Around: Senior RHP Preston Guilmet returns for his senior year and should lead the UA staff once again as the Friday Night starter. Guilmet currently ranks No. 4 in UA history with 326 strikeouts and needs 97 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 325.1 innings in his three seasons at UA, and has a chance to become UA’s all-time leader in the category (Ed Vosberg, 405.1). He stands at No. 6 in program history in fewest walks per nine innings at 2.46. Additionally, his 21 career wins are six shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA.
Pitching Has Been Pretty Special: Under head coach Andy Lopez, the Wildcat pitching staff has re-written the record books. Here’s a look at some of the notable tidbits.
- Two Pitchers Selected in the First Round of the MLB Draft in 2008
- Four 10-Game Winners Since 2004
- Nine Different Pitchers Selected in the First 10 Rounds of the MLB Draft Since 2003
- Top Three Strikeout Staffs in School History in Three of the Last Four Years
- Broke School Record For Lowest Opponent Batting Average in 2007 and 2008
- Four times under Lopez UA has recorded the second-most saves in a season
- Preston Guilmet One of Four UA Pitchers With 300+ Strikeouts
- Top 5 Nationally in Strikeouts Per Nine Innings Last Two Seasons
More Pitching Props: Here’s a look at some more pitching marks set by the 2007 and 2008 pitching staffs:
2008 – Set School Record with 572 Strikeouts
2008 – School Record Seven Shutouts Most Since 1976
2008 – Three Pitchers Named All-Pac-10
2007 – Lowest Team ERA in 30 Years (3.90)
2007 – Fewest Home Runs Allowed in 34 Years (20)
2007 – Fewest Hits (516) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 – Fewest Runs (273) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 - Fewest Earned Runs (228) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 – Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet
2007 – 386 out of 527 Innings Pitched Were Shutout Innings (73%)
Early Recognition: Several Wildcats have received some notable pre-season media attention and are on watch lists for some of the nation’s top honors. Here is the list:
Jason Stoffel (’09 Junior) – Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American; BaseballInsider.com Pre-Season Second Team All-American; Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American (Third Team), Preseason NCBWA All-American (Third Team), 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List; Rivals.com Pre-Season All-Conference
Preston Guilmet (’09 Senior) – Rivals.com Preseason Top 10 Returning Senior, 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
Bryce Ortega (’09 Sophomore) - 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
On Deck: Arizona will host Massachusetts for a three-game series this weekend. Game one is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, March 6 at Jerry Kindall Field. Game two is scheduled for 2 p.m. (previously listed as 6 p.m.) on Saturday and the series will wrap up on Sunday at Noon.