Baseball Returns Home to Host USC

April 1, 2009

Arizona Baseball - Weekly Notes

USC (11-13, 2-4 Pac-10) at Arizona (12-12, 1-5 Pac-10)
Tucson, Ariz. – Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium

Friday, April 3 – 7 p.m.               Gametracker | Radio – 1290 A.M., 990 A.M.
Saturday, April 4 – 6 p.m.           Gametracker | Radio – 1290 A.M., 990 A.M.
Sunday, April 5 – Noon               Gametracker | Radio – 1290 A.M., 990 A.M.

- All three home games this weekend can be heard live on the Arizona Wildcats radio network. Brian Jeffries will call the action on KCUB 1290 A.M. Each game will also be broadcast in Spanish on KTKT 990 A.M. with Abelardo Oquita calling the action.

Arizona Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Preston Guilmet (2-3, 4.46 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Matt Veltmann (2-3, 8.06 ERA)
Sunday: To be announced

Some Series Themes: A pair of teams with sub .500 Pac-10 records hope this weekend will be the starting point for ascension to better standing as each are seeking their first Pac-10 series win … The offense-oriented Wildcats, tied with Cal for the top batting average in the league at .312, will face the pitching-dominated Trojans who boast a team ERA of 3.96 and limit opponents to a .245 batting average … Two of the conference’s top men for innings pitched, UA’s Preston Guilmet (34.1) and USC’s Brad Boxberger (40.1) will face off on Friday night … The Wildcats return to the friendly confines of Jerry Kindall Field where they have played 16 (9-7) of 24 games to open the year, while USC will play just its sixth road game of the season on Friday.

Series History: Two of the most prestigious baseball programs in the West will continue the historical series that has pitted the two teams in 206 games to date. The Trojans, winners of two-of-three in Los Angeles a year ago, own a 108-97-1 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to 1921.

A Quick Glance at the Trojans: USC enters this weekend series with an overall record of 11-13 and a Pac-10 mark of 2-4 … The Trojans dropped a mid-week game at No. 23 Cal Poly, 7-5, on Tuesday … The Trojans are led by a pitching staff that ranks in the upper half of most all pitching categories … USC boasts a 3.96 team ERA and limits opponents to a paltry .245 batting average … Only two Trojans – Grant Green and Joe DePinto – hit better than .300, but USC does have a knack for reaching base as evidenced by the .352 on base percentage compared to a .261 team batting average … USC is coached by Chad Kreuter , who is in his third season with the program … This weekend’s probable starters for the Trojans are RHP Brad Boxberger (2-3, 2.23 ERA, 50 K’s, 40.1 IP) on Friday and RHP Andrew Triggs (2-1, 2.51 ERA, 21 K’s, 28.2 IP) on Saturday. The Trojans have yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s game.

UCLA Series Recap: The Wildcats picked up their first Pac-10 win last Saturday in a 19-5 rout, but bookend victories by the Bruins on Friday (7-6) and Sunday (8-6) gave the host team the series victory … The Wildcats slugged eight home runs in the three games, improving their season total from 16 to 24 … Dillon Baird (6-for-12, 2 HR, 7 runs), Dwight Childs (6-for-8, 2 HR, 7 RBI), Shaun Cooper (6-for-14, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI), Bryce Ortega (7-for-15, 1 2B, 2 3B) and Hunter Pace (4-for-7, 2 RBI, 2 Runs) led the Wildcats offensively … UA’s 19 runs scored on Saturday were the most for a Wildcat club in over two years … Arizona, the national leader in double plays turned entering the weekend, turned only one in three games … For a second straight week, Sunday starter Bryce Bandilla failed to record an out in the first inning and was lifted in favor of Kyle Simon … Arizona out-hit UCLA .348 - .280 and out-scored the Bruins 31-20 in the series, but obviously the lopsided Saturday result played a part in those margins.

Dillon is Delivering: Junior first baseman Dillon Baird has turned in exceptional numbers during the first half of 2009. The Prescott, Ariz., native is hitting a team-best .438, is tied for the team high with 26 runs scored, and leads all Wildcats with 22 RBI. He also leads the club in slugging (.766) and on-base percentage (.538). Additionally, he is second on the club with four home runs and his 13 walks are also second best.

More Baird: As impressive as his overall numbers are, junior Dillon Baird has been sensational over the last eight games. Over the stretch, Baird is hitting .548 (17-for-31) with 15 runs scored and 11 RBI. Of his 17 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases, including seven doubles, one triple and three home runs. His slugging percentage is a staggering 1.129 and he has reached base at a .622 clip. For good measure, he as added five walks and been hit by one pitch in the last eight games.

Childs Play: Arizona catcher Dwight Childs is turning in a breakout junior season. Through 24 games, Childs has played and started in 14, sharing time with classmate Daniel Butler. But Childs has made the most of his time, hitting a career best .383 one year removed from his .193 campaign as a sophomore. Childs, who had one career home run through two seasons, already has three in 2009 and his 14 RBI nearly match his 15 from the entire 2008 season. Last weekend at UCLA, he hit a team best .750, reached base at a .846 clip and slugged an incredible 1.625 in three starts behind the plate at UCLA. Childs, in only eight official at bats, tallied six hits, including one double and two home runs. He scored five runs and batted in seven runs to pace the Wildcats. Childs also walked four times and was hit by a pitch once and reached base an amazing 12 consecutive plate appearances.

How Many Innings Are We Playing? Arizona is an even 12-12 on the season. Looking for something in common with each win and loss? Consider that Arizona is a perfect 12-0 on the season when leading after six innings. On the flip side, the Wildcats are 0-12 when trailing after six innings. On one hand, it shows the Wildcats can finish games it has the lead in, but on the other hand it shows they need to show more fight in coming back in the later innings.

Round Trippers: Through the first 21 games of the season, Arizona had only hit 16 home runs. But in Los Angeles last weekend, the Wildcats launched eight home runs to push their season tally to 24 through 24 games. Three Wildcats hit a pair of homers at Jackie Robinson Stadium, including Dillon Baird, Brad Glenn and Dwight Childs. Shaun Cooper hit his first career home run and Bobby Coyle added his third homer of the season.

Light Up the Scoreboard: In UA’s first Pac-10 win last Saturday at UCLA, the 19 runs scored by the Wildcats were their most in some time. In fact, UA last scored 19 runs back on March 13, 2007 at Hawaii-Hilo in a 19-3 victory. Arizona had not tallied that many runs in a Pac-10 game since a 27-4 rout against Washington State on May 13, 2006. For Pac-10 road games, it was the largest offensive output since a 20-9 victory in Los Angeles on May 8, 2004.

Time Is On Our Side: Arizona played its longest game of the season last Saturday at UCLA. The second game of the series, which the Wildcats won 19-5, last 3:56 minutes. It was certainly worth the wait as it marked the Wildcats’ first Pac-10 victory.

Ortega Gets Offensive: Sophomore shortstop Bryce Ortega has been one of UA’s steadiest offensive performers throughout the 2009 season. The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native is hitting .356 on the season and is tied with Dillon Baird with a team-high 26 runs scored. Ortega, who stole 13 bases in 15 attempts a season ago, is a perfect 11-for-11 in steals this season. Ortega, who has spent most of his time hitting in either the No. 9 hole or the leadoff spot, also has 18 RBI, which ranks second on the team. He is slugging .533 and is reaching base at a .449 clip.

TGIF? As a team, the Wildcats have struggled offensively on Friday nights as team’s typically throw their top pitcher. The Wildcats, who are hitting .312 overall, are hitting just .263 in six Friday night games this season. However, a few Wildcats stand out as playing well against top pitching, most notably Bobby Coyle. The sophomore outfielder is 11-for-25 (.440) with five runs scored and five RBI against Friday night pitching. In fact, all three of Coyle’s homeruns on the season have come in Friday games. Other Wildcats hitting well in first games of weekend series are Matt Presley (4-for-8, .500), Dillon Baird (6-for-16, .375) and Bryce Ortega (7-for-22, .318). All other Wildcats with at least one at bat per game on Friday’s is hitting below .300. Overall, Arizona is 3-3 in Friday games.

Look Beyond the Records: Friday night probable starters Preston Guilmet and Brad Boxberger have identical 2-3 records. But each has been much more impressive and valuable to their teams than the win-loss record shows. In fact, each ranks in the top nine in the Pac-10 for innings pitched, which has helped save bullpen arms for later in the weekend. For USC, Boxberger has allowed only 15 runs (10 earned) in 40.1 innings, but still has suffered three losses on the season. Guilmet has suffered two straight losses despite turning in quality starts to last into the sixth innings of games at ASU and UCLA, and has allowed just 18 runs on the season in six starts. Unfortunately, one of the two hurlers may be looking at a similar tough loss this week in the head-to-head showdown.

We’ll Take Two, or Three! Out of Arizona’s 270 hits on the year, 108 have gone for extra bases. UA’s preferred extra base hit on the season seems to be the double. The Wildcats have hit 69 doubles on the season which averages out to 2.88 doubles per game. The two figures rank No. 6 nationally and lead the Pac-10. But, the Wildcats are also sixth nationally with 15 triples on the season. Seven different Wildcats have tripled on the season, but Bobby Coyle leads all with three triples.

Stoffel is No. 1: 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 23 career saves.

Hammer Time: Junior closer Jason Stoffel seems to be at his best when the pressure is at its highest. In his career, Stoffel has blown only one save and the righty is 5-for-5 in save opportunities this season. While his overall numbers aren’t bad, they are still bit a un-Stoff-like. But looking at those “pressure” situations when he has come on to save a game, Stoffel has been nearly untouchable. In his five saves, Stoffel has pitched a total of 10.0 innings and boasts an ERA of just 0.90. In those innings, UA’s all-time saves leader has allowing just one run on five hits. He has struck out a staggering 20 batters and walked only three.

National Leaders: Arizona is turning double plays at a record pace entering this weekend’s series and the Wildcats lead the nation with 34 doubles plays turned. A season ago, the Wildcats turned only 47 on the entire season. This season’s tally of 35 (1.46 per game) projects to 80.3 on the season, which would come close to breaking the school record of 81 in a season set by the 1979 club. In fact, the highest total in the Lopez era is the 60 turned by the 2003 team. UA’s per-game mark leads the nation, while the 35 total double plays is second to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, which has 37 on the season.

Feeling the Burns: Senior RHP Cory Burns has been one of the club’s top options out of the bullpen early in 2009, having pitched in 18 of UA’s first 24 games … Burns, who has yet to earn a decision on the season, has pitched 22.2 innings and struck out 29 batters … At his current pace (appeared in 75 percent of UA’s games), he would break the UA record for appearances in a single season, which is currently held by Tod Brown, who pitched in 35 games in 1993 (Top-10 can be found on page 63 of UA media guide). Burns has been one of UA’s most reliable relievers in recent years and he is quickly moving up the UA career chart for career appearances. To date, Burns has appeared in 72 career games, which ranks No. 7 all-time at UA (Top-10 can be found on page 61 of UA media guide). He needs 16 more appearances to tie Ron Sismondo as UA’s all-time leader for appearances.

Glenny Moves Up: With his five home runs on the season, senior Brad Glenn has a total of 39 round-trippers in his four seasons at Arizona. That mark is No. 2 all-time at Arizona, trailing only Shelley Duncan, who blasted 55 home runs as a Wildcat. Glenn also has been hit by 40 pitches, which is also good for No. 2 all-time at Arizona. Again, he’ll have a tough time catching the leader, Colt Sedbrook, who was hit by a pitch 55 times in his career. Interestingly, 55 is the all-time mark in the two categories. Lastly, look for Glenn to move into the UA Top 10 for all-time games played later this season. To date, he has played in 187 games as a Wildcat and trails Kenny Corley’s 201 games played, which ranks No. 10 at Arizona.

Shutting ‘Em Out: The Arizona pitching staff has combined to throw three shutouts in the last nine games. The Wildcats shutout UMass in the series finale (9-0) and completed bookend shutouts of Michigan last weekend (2-0, 14-0). The 2008 club, which set a school record with 34.2 scoreless innings at one point, threw seven shutouts on the season.

Setting the Pace: One of the pleasant surprises early in 2009 has been the steady play of senior Hunter Pace. The veteran outfielder, who was relegated to a reserve role primarily as a pinch runner early in his career, has started 13 games to date in center field. Pace, who is hitting .404, is second on the club behind Dillon Baird for the top hitting mark on the club and has hit three doubles and a pair of triples. The speedster has stolen 8-of-11 bases and scored 15 runs.

Stacking Up the Pac: Despite the struggles at the plate last weekend at ASU, the Wildcats still rank favorably in the Pac-10 in several offensive categories. Entering the weekend, UA is near the top of the league in almost every offensive category. Here’s a look at the numbers:

Category          Stat                  Rank
Batting Ave.       .312                  t1
Slugging %        .510                  1
On Base %       .385                  5
Runs Scored     199                   2
Hits                  270                   2         
RBI                   176                   2
Doubles            69                     1
Triples               15                     1|
Homeruns         24                     4

Taking Form: After a couple of un-Preston-like performance to open 2009, senior RHP Preston Guilmet has begun to take to his old form that has made him one of the top pitchers in Arizona history. In his last four starts, Guilmet has lasted into the sixth or seventh innings and but has posted a 2-2 record. His ERA has lowered to 4.46 and he has struck out 34 batters in 34.1 innings on the season. Guilmet currently ranks No. 3 in UA history with 360 strikeouts and needs 62 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 359.2 innings in his three seasons plus 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 23 career wins are five shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA. Here’s a look at Guilmet’s career numbers:

ERA         W-L         App.        GS           CG           IP             H              R              ER            BB           SO
3.55         23-16       59            53            6              359.2       358          171          1142        107          360

Mix and Match: Due to a handful of nagging injuries, head coach Andy Lopez has been forced to shuffle his lineup on nearly a daily basis. In fact, no player has started all 24 games this season. In all, 15 different position players have started a game and all 15 have made at least three starts. Additionally, UA has not used the same batting order (with players hitting in same spot and playing in same defensive position) more than once on the entire season. On the mound, Arizona has used 12 different pitchers, with 11 making at least three appearances.

Swipin’ Bags: The Wildcats were second in the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 91 in 2008, and this 2009 version may be in line to challenge that mark. Through 24 games, Arizona has stolen 40 bases, which trails only Oregon’s 41. Bryce Ortega (11-for-11) and Hunter Pace (both 8-for-11) lead Arizona in the category, but 13 different players have stolen at least one base.

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 .327on the season with runners in scoring position, .356 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and .641 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 50 runs in 78 chances. On the season, the Cats have driven in 78 runners with two outs in an inning.

Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Junior Jason Stoffel was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17 following his dominating work out of the bullpen a week earlier against Oklahoma State and Michigan. Against the Wolverines, Stoffel earned a pair of saves, including a three-inning appearance in the Friday game to help UA to a 2-0 victory, and a five-up, five-down via strikeout affair in the Saturday game to give the Cats a 9-7 win. The right hander pitched 6.1 innings in three appearances on the week, allowing no runs on only hit. He struck out 10 batters and walked none. The weekly honor was the first of his career and the 40th all-time for a UA pitcher.

Young, But Talented: A total of 12 players with no prior Arizona experience have already played key roles for the Wildcats this season either as starters or key reserves. Offensively, Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy have found every day roles in the lineup, while newcomers are in the regular pitching rotation. That does not include Matt Chaffee or Joe Allison, each who are in their second year in the program but making their most significant contributions. Ryan Doyle also made his season debut against Oklahoma State, marking his second career appearance.

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 259-168-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 948-586-7. 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.

24 No More: With the addition of Oregon to mix of Pacific-10 baseball, the Conference season has been extended to a 27-game schedule from its previous 24-game slate. All league teams will play each other three times during the season. Like football, the home-away split will be unbalanced with nine opponents, meaning half the league will have five conference home series, while the other half will only play four at home.

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:

Pre-Season Honors
Jason Stoffel (’09 Junior) – Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American; 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; Pre-Season All-Conference

Preston Guilmet (’09 Senior) – 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 continue Pac-10 Conference action at home against Oregon State April 9-11. The three game series will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, at Jerry Kindall Field.


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