Cats Battle Trojans This Weekend
April 29, 2010
No. 19 Arizona (28-11, 8-7 Pac-10) at USC (17-23, 3-12 Pac-10)
Los Angeles | Dedeaux Field
Some Series Themes: Two of the nation’s seven programs that have won 2,500 or more games in their respective histories … Arizona seeks a second Pac-10 road series win while the Trojans are hoping for their first Pac-10 series victory … USC has a 6-10 record at home while the Wildcats are an even 4-4 away from home … UA appears to be the hitting team by average (.346 to .282), but the Trojans have some power and have blasted 35 homers on the season, led by conference leader Ricky Oropesa’s 11 bombs … Don’t let the Friday night pitching matchup deceive you. UA’s Kurt Heyer may have the 6-0 record, but even with a 1-7 record, USC’s Andrew Triggs has given his club a chance to win. Triggs has suffered four of his seven losses by a combined five runs, including games to Stanford, Oregon State, California and Arizona State … The Wildcats have struck out 100 fewer times than the Trojans on the season (198-298) … USC has been caught stealing 23 times in 52 attempts, while the Wildcats have been caught just 26 times in 103 total attempts … Each game could be a six-inning race, as USC is 13-2 when leading after six innings while the Wildcats are 25-2 in such situations … The first of four-straight road games for the Wildcats, who play at Arizona State on Tuesday, May 4, for a single non-conference game.
UCLA Series Recap: One of those “what could have been” series in which the Wildcats carried a one-run lead into the ninth inning, but a two-out error allowed the tying run to score before the Bruins took the opener, 6-3, in 10 innings … UCLA captured Game 2, 6-2, before the Wildcats salvaged a victory with a steady 6-4 win on Sunday … Arizona hitters struggled to come up with timely hits and were victim of the strikeout 10 times in the opener and 13 times – all by Trevor Bauer – in the second game … UA roughed up UCLA Sunday starter Rob Rasmussen and handed him his first loss of the year as he was forced from the game in the fourth … Kurt Heyer limited the Bruins to one run in six innings of work as he struck out eight batters in a no-decision effort in Friday’s opener… Bryce Bandilla effectively moved to the bullpen last week, pitching in three games, and he earned the victory on relief of Daniel Workman on Sunday … The Wildcats hit just .269 in the series, but UA’s staff held the Bruins to a .247 clip … After five errors in the first two games, the Cats played error-free baseball on Sunday.
Cats in the Rankings: The Wildcats, after a 2-2 mark last week against a pair of highly ranked teams in Arizona State and UCLA, improved to 28-11 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. 19 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and the Baseball America top 25. The Wildcats check in as high as No. 17in the Rivals.com ratings, and appear at No. 21 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 19 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30.
RPI Facts: Arizona continued its climb in the official NCAA RPI ratings released on Tuesday, checking in at No. 13 this week … The Wildcats, with their 2-2 split last week, are now 8-7 against Top 50 RPI opponents – all of which appear in the top-34 of the ratings. Additionally, UA is 7-3 against teams rated No. 53-74, for a total 15-10 mark against Top 100 RPI teams … The Cats have 13 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 74 of the RPI, with seven in the top 29 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 Road Ahead: The Wildcats will hit the road for four straight games, including this weekend’s Pac-10 series at USC and a non-conference game next Tuesday at Arizona State. After that, the Wildcats are looking forward to a nice late-season stretch of home games. Arizona will play nine of its last 12 games at home at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium, where it is 24-7 on the season. 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 May.
Alive With Five: One of those interesting “magic number” statistics that can indicate, to a strong likelihood, the outcome of a game this season for Arizona is the number of runs its opponent scores in a game. In 21 such games, the Wildcats are 20-1 this season when holding an opponent to five or fewer runs in a game this season. The lone blemish on the record was a 4-3 loss at Berkeley on April 3. The statistic is complemented by the fact the Wildcats are 27-3 on the year when scoring five runs or more.
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. .346 9
Runs/game 8.6 28
Hits 481 23
Triples 21 5
Stolen Bases 77 26
Sacrifice Bunts 30 35
ERA 3.85 23
Double Plays 42 26
Winning % .718 23
Way To Go Failo: Rafael Valenzuela, nicknamed “Failo”, has been UA’s top offensive performer over the last 11 games. The senior first baseman is hitting .391 (18-for-46) with 12 RBI and 11 runs scored – both team highs – in the recent hot streak. With three doubles, two triples and two homers, Valenzuela is slugging .674 in the last 11, which is second on the club. Included in the recent stretch are some notable highlights: 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 in the third game against Washington State on April 18, 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.
Selsky Powering Up: Sophomore right fielder Steve Selsky has racked up 21 extra base hits in his last 28 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 28 games. Selsky is now hitting .420 for the season and has collected 10 doubles, five triples and six homers in the last 28 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 68 hits on the season and his .420 average is No. 2 in the league. The right fielder’s on-base percentage of .489 is tied for No. 2 in the conference with Jett Bandy, while his .667 slugging percentage is No. 2 in the Pac. He is tied for second with Rafael Valenzuela in triples (5) and is tied for eighth in home runs (6) among all league players. Selsky, who drove in only 21 runs last season, is No. 5 with 39 RBI and is No. 2 in runs scored with 44. In his career, Selsky is hitting .371 with 60 RBI, 20 doubles, seven triples and 13 home runs.
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 in mid-April. The 6-foot-4 Bandy, who has started all 39 of UA’s games, including 32 behind the plate, is fourth in the Pac-10 with a .404 batting average. He has collected 61 hits and scored 45 runs, marks that rank with Steve Selsky as two of the top three figures in each category. Bandy’s on-base percentage (.489) and slugging percentage (.623) rank second and sixth in the conference, respectively. He is one of five Wildcats with 30 RBI. In 86 career games, Bandy has a .349batting average with 110 base hits. He has belted 39 doubles in his one and a half seasons and roped nine homers. He has nearly as many career walks (31) as strikeouts (32), 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 8.1 runs and 12.3 hits per game … UA’s pitchers have held opponents to 4.9 runs and 9.1 hits per game … 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 22 games under the three-hour mark out of 39 games this season … The Cats have 103 two-out RBI this season, which is 39 more than their opponents have. In fact, UA hits .322 as a team with two outs compared to opponents .242 clip … Alex Mejia (SS), Joey Rickard (CF) and Steve Selsky (RF) are the only three players to start all 39 games at the same position. Jett Bandy has started all 39 games, but has 32starts 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 997 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 997-613-7 (.619).
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 310-195-1 (.614).
Clean Takeoff: Sophomore catcher/first baseman Jett Bandy has been one of UA’s top offensive performers in the team’s first 38 games. Bandy, who tied for the team lead with 21 doubles a year ago, leads the club in on-base percentage (.489), while his .667 slugging percentage and .404 batting average trails only Steve Selsky for second-best. He also is second in runs (45), is second in hits (61) and home runs (5), and fourth in RBI (33). Just as impressive, in 151 official at-bats, Bandy has struck out only 13 times on the season while walking 17 times and being hit by 13 pitches. For his career, Bandy has struck out just 32 times in 315 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 .385 (90-for-234) with 40-percent of his hits going for extra bases (29 2B, 8 HR). In the 61-game span, Bandy has collected 50 RBI and scored 55 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 .401 batting is fifth-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 .401 batting average to go with 29 runs scored and 34 RBI. His batting average currently ranks No. 5 in the Pac-10, while his .467 on base percentage is No. 8 in the league. His 59 hits are third-most on the club and fourth-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 315-192 on the season, they have dominated opponents by a margin of 176-85 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 25-2 this season when it leads after the sixth inning, much because the early leads in games have led to a 238-117 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 39 games, the Wildcats have just 24 home runs. However, UA has shown a propensity to hit more home runs away from the spacious Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium. 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. The Cats added another home run at Gonzaga on the back end of the trip to the Pacific Northwest. All told, the Wildcats have eight home runs in eight road games this season, compared to 16 round trippers in 31 home games. For the season, UA has a record of 16-4 when it hits at least one home run and is 12-7 in games without one.
‘K’urt Heyer: Entering this week’s action, freshman Kurt Heyer is third amongst all Pac-10 pitchers with 76 strikeouts. Of his 76 strikeouts, 28 have been looking, which checks in tops in the league. Heyer’s arm has accounted for 76 of UA’s 261 strikeouts as a team (25.9 percent) despite throwing just 18.2 percent of UA’s innings as a team. On the year, Heyer has a 6-0 record in 10 starts with an ERA of 2.09, which is No. 2 in the Pac-10 and No. 15 in the NCAA. He has allowed just 12 walks on the season and his 1.67 walks per nine innings ratio is the best mark of all Pac-10 pitchers. In his five Pac-10 starts, Heyer has a 2.08 ERA, eerily close to his 2.09 season mark. Opponents are hitting just .230 against him for the season and Pac-10 foes are batting .215.
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 six starts, including two weeks ago in Seattle. The recent run of success has pushed his record to 6-3 on the season with a 3.79 ERA. In his last 55.1 innings pitched, Simon has allowed just 26 runs – 20 earned (a 3.25 ERA) – and has 26 strikeouts against 13 walks.
Workman Back to Work: Daniel Workman has worked his way back into the Sunday spot in UA’s starting rotation. After a bit of a rough start to the season, Workman went nearly a month between pitching appearances. He was forced into an emergency start on April 20 at Arizona State when scheduled starter Cory Bernard injured his arm warming up. Workman responded and turned in a sensation 6.1 innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. The performance earned him the starting nod against UCLA last Sunday and he’ll be back in the Sunday spot this weekend. Workman’s combined efforts against Arizona State and UCLA on April 20 and April 25 earned him recognition as on the Primetime Performer Weekly Honor Roll by collegebaseball360.com.
Joltin’ Joey: Freshman centerfielder Joey Rickard has kicked off his collegiate career in impressive fashion. Through 39 games – all starts – Rickard is hitting .319 with eight 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 ranks second for the Wildcats, but ranks sixth for all Pac-10 players. 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.
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 .368. Mejias-Brean has also been UA’s fifth-best run-producer during the stretch, collecting 25 RBI over the last 30 games while scoring 22 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: On the season, the Wildcats are 4-3 against teams ranked in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll at the time of the game. In 2009, Arizona was just 1-14 against Top 25 teams, including 1-9 against such teams in 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 42 double plays (37 on ground balls) on the season which is third-most in the Pac-10. The total double plays ranked No. 28 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. Alex Mejia leads the Pac-10 in total assists (141), followed closely by Ortega, who is tenth(102). 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 2,527-1,336-22.
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 35 of the 39 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 89 of their last 96 games (93 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 89 on the season averages out to 2.28 per game. Jett Bandy, who tied for the team lead with 21 a season ago, again leads the club with 18 to date, while Steve Selsky has 12 and Rafael Valenzuela has 11.
.300 Club: Through 28 games, the Wildcats are hitting .346 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.
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 1,072 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. .350 2
Slugging % .492 2
On Base % .418 2
Runs Scored 315 2
Hits 481 2
RBI 284 2
Doubles 89 3
Triples 21 2
HR 24 6
Walks 133 9
Strikeouts 198 10 (fewest)
HPB 52 4
Stolen Bases 77 2
On Deck: Arizona will return to Tucson after this weekend’s series, but will take a bus trip to Arizona State for a non-conference on Tuesday, May 4. The Wildcats then close out their home schedule with nine-straight home games, starting against Cal State Bakersfield May 7-9.