Cats Host No. 3 ASU in Home Finale
May 19, 2009
No. 3 Arizona State (41-11) @ Arizona (27-24)
Tucson, Ariz. – Jerry Kindall Field
Wednesday, May 20 – 7 p.m.
(Radio – 1290 A.M. / Spanish – 990 A.M.)
Some Series Themes: The Wildcats and Sun Devils meet for the final time this season, as UA seeks its first victory in the series in ’09 … The second non-conference meeting of the year will serve as one final tune-up for each squad before the regular season Pac-10 finale this coming weekend … The Sun Devils have won eight straight games – all at home – while the Wildcats have won 11 of their last 16 contests … The two teams rank either first or second in most all offensive categories in the Pac-10, including batting average, slugging, on-base, runs scored, RBI, triples and total bases … The difference between the two teams this year has certainly been depth of pitching, as is evidence by ASU’s staff which ranks first in ERA, opponent batting average and walks allowed, while UA ranks ninth, tenth and seventh in those categories, respectively … While UA has the higher batting average amongst the two teams, ASU reaches base at a .422 clip (compared to UA’s .392) thanks in part to 305 walks on the season (compared to UA’s 164).
Series History: The Wildcats and Sun Devils have met 426 times on the baseball diamond dating back over 100 years to the first contest in 1907. The two teams split the four games in 2008, with the Wildcats taking 2-of-3 in the Pacific-10 Conference series that concluded each school’s regular season. This year, the Sun Devils swept the Wildcats in Tempe, winning all three conference games March 20-22. In late April, ASU handed UA a 20-3 loss in the first of two non-conference showdowns between the two teams in Tucson. Arizona leads the all-time series 231-193-1.
A Glance at the Sun Devils: The Sun Devils enter the week riding an eight-game winning streak and have moved up as high as No. 2 in the rankings in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, while Baseball America ranks ASU at No. 3 … The Sun Devils clinched at least a share of their third consecutive Pac-10 championship with a weekend sweep of Oregon in Tempe … ASU ranks second in the Pac-10 in batting at .305, but leads the conference in slugging (.508), on-base percentage (.422), runs scored (424) and runs batted in (387) … The Sun Devils have walked an astounding 305 times on the year, which is 57 more times than the Pac-10’s next highest mark, Oregon State (248) … ASU’s 64 home runs also lead the league, as does its 90 stolen bases.
UW Series Recap: After dropping the opener on Senior Night, 7-4, the Wildcats bounced back to take the final two games of the series by scores of 10-7 and 9-5 to win their third consecutive Pac-10 series … The series took a dramatic turn in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 2, when UA trailed the Huskies, 7-4, with the series victory on the brink. But, a six-run eighth propelled the Wildcats to come-from-behind victory to even the series … Arizona batted around in that eighth-inning rally and also did so in its first at bat in Monday’s series finale, jumping out to a 5-0 first inning lead before cruising to a 9-5 victory … In the series, the Wildcats hit .304 as a team, with three doubles, four triples and two home runs … Dwight Childs led the Cats offensively in the series, batting 6-for-10 at the plate with two runs scored and six RBI … Hunter Pace provided the offensive spark on Monday, driving in four runs and scoring three to account for seven of UA’s nine runs … The UA pitching staff struck out 23 Huskies in the series, while walking just four.
Peaking at the Right Time: The Wildcats enter the final week of the regular season playing their best baseball of the season. For a team that has yet to win more than three games in a row this season, UA still has a significant streak to point to its success. The Wildcats have won 11 of their last 16 games, including seven of their last nine Pac-10 games. UA opened the season winning 11 of its first 18 games.
Growing Pains: Arizona’s 10-14 mark in the Pac-10 certainly isn’t anything to brag about, but now that UA has won seven of its last nine league games, it has become clear that early season growing pains were the root cause of UA’s struggles. UA dropped its first four Pac-10 games this season and lost 12 of its first 15. However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Arizona has lost its last 11 Pac-10 games by a grand total of 25 runs or 2.27 runs per game. More frustrating, for the Cats, is that they have lost five game by one run and two others by just two runs, meaning half of their league losses have come by a two-run margin or less. Over their last nine league games, the Wildcats have found out what it takes to win games, and thus they have posted a 7-2 record.
In the Pac: While season overall statistics get the most notice, one of the better comparisons for players within a conference is how they fare against their league counterparts. Arizona has a handful of players who rank highly in offensive categories in conference-only games. Dillon Baird (.463 in Pac-10 games) has a 57 point advantage over OSU’s Ryan Ortiz for the top batting average, and also has the highest slugging percentage (.747) and on-base percentage (.536). His 44 hits are a league-best through 24 Pac-10 games, as are his 12 doubles and 71 total bases. UA catcher Dwight Childs, who has 34 RBI on the season, has a Pac-10-leading 26 RBI in conference-only games, and he ranks sixth in batting (.380), sixth in slugging (.620) and eighth in on-base percentage in such games. Hunter Pace is ninth in batting (.358), while teammate Bryce Ortega is tenth in batting (.357) and second in runs scored (25).
Dillon is Delivering: Junior first baseman Dillon Baird has turned in exceptional numbers during his second season with the Wildcats. The Prescott, Ariz., native is hitting a team-best .432, is second on the team with 47 runs scored, and leads all Wildcats with 47 RBI. He also leads the club in slugging (.688) and on-base percentage (.507). His batting average and on-base marks lead the Pac-10, while his slugging checks in at No. 5. The left hand hitter is third on the club with five home runs and his 21 walks are second most on the team. Additionally, Baird has shown marked improvement defensively, posting a fielding percentage of .986 while committing only six errors on the season – the fewest for any regular infield player on the club. He currently has an 18-game hitting streak, which is the team’s longest in 2009. During the streak, Baird is batting .474 and slugging .718, with 12 doubles, two triples and one home run.
Baird in Pac-10 Perspective: Not only is Dillon Baird batting a league-best .432 on the season, he holds a commanding lead over the Pac-10’s next best hitter, ASU’s Jason Kipnis, who is hitting .385. If Baird went hitless in his next 23 at-bats, he would still have a better average than Kipnis, at .386. Considering Pac-10 games only, Baird is hitting an unbelievable .463, which is 57 points better than OSU’s Ryan Ortiz, who is batting .406 in conference games. Additionally, Baird currently stands in some highly prestigious territory in Pac-10 history. Only 61 players have ever hit .400 or better in Pac-10 history. If Baird’s .432 average could hold up, it would be the eighth-best single season mark ever in the Pac-10 and the best for a Wildcat player in the Pac-10 era. Previously, Jeff Van Houten’s .413 season in 2003 stands as the best for an Arizona player. The last UA player to hit .400 in a season was Trevor Crowe, who hit .403 in 2005.
Childs Play: Arizona catcher Dwight Childs is turning in a breakout junior season. Through 51 games, Childs has started in 33, sharing time with classmate Daniel Butler. But Childs has made the most of his time, hitting a career best .344 one year removed from his .193 campaign as a sophomore. Childs, who had one career home run through two seasons, already has four in 2009 and his 34 RBI surpassed his 15 from the entire 2008 season and are a new career high. The 6-3 junior has been on a tear in his last five games, batting .500 (9-for-18) with two doubles and a home run to go with five runs scored and seven RBI. Childs leads all Pac-10 players with 26 RBI in conference-only games this season, and his .380 average in such games is sixth-best.
Seniors Finishing Strong: UA’s only two senior position players, Brad Glenn and Hunter Pace, are each doing their best to finish their careers on high notes. Glenn, who is hitting .267 on the season, is hitting .328 (20-for-61) over his last 15 games with three doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI. His classmate, Pace, has a .463 batting average (19-for-41) over the last 11 games, with 13 runs scored, three doubles and three triples, while reaching base at a .532 clip.
2 x 20: Jett Bandy and Dillon Baird lead the Pac-10 with 20 doubles apiece. The 20-20 feat marks the first time two UA players each hit 20 doubles in the same season since Trevor Crowe (25) and Jeff Van Houten (23) did so in 2005.
Selsky Steppin’ Up: Freshman Steve Selsky was one of UA’s top hitters during his first month of Division I baseball. In early March, his average was as high as .382 after nine games. But, his early season success fizzled out and he saw his average drop to .243 by April 10. Since, Selsky has been Arizona’s top hitter, batting .403 in his last 121 games with 19 runs scored and a quartet of home runs. He has collected 25 hits in his last 62 at bats, which has raised his average over 70 points to its current .318. Selsky is not only known for his offensive skills, as he has displayed a strong throwing arm in the outfield as evidenced by his five assists on the season, including one in Monday’s game against Washington.
Jett Re-Fueled: Earlier this season, Bandy approached the .300 mark when he hit .296 on March 11. Two weeks later, Bandy bottomed out at .243 on March 27. Now one of UA’s hottest hitters of late, Bandy is hitting .358 (24-for-67) in the games game he has played dating back to the Washington State series (April 17-19). Of his 24 base hits, 10 have been doubles, which has boosted his season total to 20 – a figure that ties Dillon Baird for most in the Pac-10. Bandy has also ripped two home runs in his current hot streak, in which he had a career-best 12-game hitting streak. He has scored 11 runs and racked up 14 RBI, while slugging .597 and reaching base at a .463 clip in the stretch. On the season, Bandy has been hit by a pitch 13 times, which is a new UA freshman record (previously held by Brad Glenn with 12 in 2006).
Burns Tops On Workload Chart: Cory Burns pitched in two games over the weekend against Washington, braking his tie with Tod Brown (1993) for most games pitched in a season. Burns, who had thrown in 35 games entering last weekend, as pushed UA’s new season-high mark to 37. On the season, Burns has pitched 44.1 innings, posting a 4.06 ERA. He has a 2-0 record and has one save to his credit, while he has struck out 50 batters. Two weeks ago against LMU he saw his streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings snapped. Just as impressive, he has allowed only 8-of-28 (28.6%) inherited runners to score on the season.
Gotta Get Guys On Base: One can look at all sorts of statistics and breakdowns to try and explain wins and losses. One can also oversimplify things and say the team that scores the most runs will win. For UA baseball in 2009, there is a pleasant middle ground: just get guys on base. Interestingly, Arizona has left more runners on base in games that it has won (220) than it has when it has lost (172). In UA’s 27 wins, the Wildcats have reached base at a .441 clip compared to just .332 in its 24 losses. Looking further, the Wildcats have walked 99 times in the wins, while drawing just 65 walks in the losses. One could point to leadoff hitters as being a key to setting the tone each inning. In UA’s wins, leadoff hitters are batting at a .473 pace, while in the losses that average is just .309. Lastly, in the wins, UA hitters have just 147 strikeouts compared 207 strikeouts in the losses, which shows that putting the ball in play and getting on base increases the chances of scoring runs.
We’ll Take Two, or Three! Out of Arizona’s 578 hits on the year, 201 have gone for extra bases. UA’s preferred extra base hit on the season seems to be the double, as they have hit a double in every game of the season except the April 14 game against New Mexico and last Sunday’s game against Washington. The Wildcats have hit 128 doubles on the season which averages out to 2.54 doubles per game. Entering the week, the per game figure ranked No. 14 in the nation. UA also has laced 32 triples on the season, which ranks No. 3 in the nation. Eight different Wildcats have tripled on the season, with six players tallying at least three triples (Dillon Baird, Bobby Coyle, Bryce Ortega, Brad Glenn, Hunter Pace). Bobby Coyle has a team-high seven triples, which is the most for a Wildcat since Jon Gaston’s eight in 2007. Coyle’s tally also ranks tops in the Pac-10 and 9th in the nation.
Slowly But Surely: The Arizona pitching staff if slowly but surely making a turnaround after a rough first half of the season. Pitching has certainly been a season long limitation for the Wildcats, but if the last 12 Pac-10 games are any indication, the staff has been making significant strides. In its last 12 Pac-10 games, the UA pitching staff has posted a 4.49 team ERA, much improved from its overall 5.58 ERA on the season. Opposing hitters are hitting just .266 in those games, again, much improved from the .296 season average. The Wildcats are 7-5 in the last 12 Pac-10 games, including wins in seven of the last nine.
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 season stands alone with 27 career saves. In mid April, Stoffel was named a mid-season watch list honoree for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award. The junior is also competing with teammate Cory Burns (school record 37 appearances) for most appearances on the season (currently 36). With 94 career appearances, Stoffel now holds the UA record for most appearances in Wildcat history.
Turning Two: Arizona is turning double plays at a remarkable pace entering this week and actually was the top club nationally in turning double plays earlier in the year. A season ago, the Wildcats turned only 47 on the entire season. This season’s tally of 58 (1.16 per game) ranks 19th in the nation, but the per-game figure ranks 14th.. The highest total in the Lopez era is the 60 turned by the 2003 team.
Glenny Hits No. 40: With his team-leading eight home runs on the season, senior Brad Glenn has a total of 42 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 42 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, he has played in 214 games as a Wildcat, which ranks eighth in UA history.
Hitting in the Clutch: The Wildcats have proven clutch at the plate with runners in scoring position in 2009. Arizona is hitting .338 on the season with runners in scoring position, .340 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and is scoring runs at a .640 clip with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 112 runs in 175 chances. On the season, the Cats have driven in 149 runners with two outs in an inning.
Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Preston Guilmet was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week last week after leading the Wildcats to an 11-1 victory at Stanford. A right hander, Guilmet picked up his first road win of the season and pushed his overall record to 3-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.63. Ranked No. 4 in Pac-10 history and No. 3 at Arizona for career strikeouts (385), Guilmet fanned only three Cardinal hitters last Friday, but turned in season lows for hits (5) and runs allowed (1). The native of Citrus Heights, Calif., stifled Cardinal hitters all evening long, preventing any chance of a Stanford rally as opposing hitters were 0-for-7 on the night with runners on base. The weekly award is the sixth-all-time for Guilmet, who was honored as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year in 2007 when he boasted a 12-2 record and a 1.87 ERA. He was recognized four times in his sensational sophomore season and once a year ago as a junior. Earlier this season, junior Jason Stoffel was tabbed Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17 after tallying a pair of saves in three dominating performances against Oklahoma State and Michigan. All-time, Arizona pitchers have been tabbed 42 times for the weekly award.
Coyle Named Pac-10 Player of the Week: Bobby Coyle was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after he turned in a sensational weekend at the plate as he helped the Wildcats to a three game sweep of visiting California May 1-3. In three games as UA’s designated hitter, Coyle combined to hit 6-for-13, including a triple in each game of the series, scored two runs and drove in a team-high nine RBI. Coyle was critical to the Wildcats’ success all weekend long, delivering clutch hits with runners on base. In fact, he was 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 2-for-2 with the bases loaded (both hits were triples). Additionally, Coyle was 3-for-4 batting with two outs in an inning and he drove in four two-out RBI. His three triples on the weekend increased his season total to six, which currently leads all Pac-10 players and is the most for a Wildcat since 2007.It is the first weekly honor for Coyle and the 51st player of the week all-time for Arizona.
On Deck: The Wildcats will conclude the 2009 regular season on the road in Eugene, Ore., against Oregon in a three-game series May 22-24. The first game of the series is set for Friday at 3 p.m.