Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Baseball Sets Out to UC Riverside
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 08, 2006
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Potential Starting Lineup
 Player  B/T  Pos  Notes
1  Brad Boyer  L/R  3B  Scored four runs and stole three bases against LMU
2  Jason Donald  R/R  SS  Led all players with four RBI last weekend
3  Stephen Pearson  L/L  1B  Collected three hits in three starts
4  Konrad Schmidt   R/R  C  Hit .455 with a RBI and two runs last weekend
5  Eric Berger  L/L  DH  Fri. starter on the mound could DH for other two games
6  Colt Sedbrook  R/R  2B  Scored three runs and drove in two vs. LMU last week
7  Derek Decater  L/L  LF  Went 3 for 4 in series finale vs. LMU last week
8  T.J. Steele  R/R  CF  Drove in three runs vs. LMU last weekend
9  Jon Gaston  L/L  RF  Hit HR on first pitch thrown to him last week vs. LMU
Fri.  Eric Berger  LHP  Picked up win with five-inning appearance against LMU
Sat.  Mike Colla  RHP  Lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his first career start
Sun.  Brad Mills   LHP  Will be making first career start
CP  Mark Melancon  RHP  All-time saves leader at UA with 15

Head West Young Men
The Wildcats will get their first taste of life on the road this weekend as they head west on I-10 to Riverside, Calif. The 2006 season marks the earliest that Arizona has taken to the road in a year since opening the 2001 season at Hawaii-Hilo ... The Wildcats have won their season-opening road series each of the last three years, including a sweep of UC Irvine in 2003 ... Arizona last lost its first road series of the season in 2002, head coach Andy Lopez’s first year at UA, in a three-game sweep at Texas A&M.

A Quick Look at UC Riverside
The Highlanders are coming off a season-opening sweep of San Francisco and are 3-0 to start the year ... UCR returns eight position starters and its top three rotation starters from last year’s 28-27 NCAA Regional team ... Highlighting the offensive returners is outfielder Aaron Grant. The senior opened the season with an impressive weekend against the Dons, going 3 for 7 (.583) with two RBI and three runs scored ... JC transfer D.J. Hollingsworth also made an instant impact with five RBI, three runs scored and four stolen bases against USF ... The UCR pitching staff limited USF to seven total runs in three games last weekend and posted a 1.67 ERA ... Sophomore James Simmons was the lone starter to tally a win, while relievers Pat Cassa, a former ASU Sun Devil, and Dan Runzler earned victories out of the bullpen ... Head coach Doug Smith is in his second year at the helm of the Highlanders and is 31-27 overall at the school.

The History
Arizona and Riverside have faced each other 25 times in a series that dates back to 1975 ... UA owns a 15-10 advantage all-time, but UCR took two of three games from the Wildcats in Tucson last season ... Arizona head coach Andy Lopez is 6-3 all-time against UCR and is 4-2 against them while at Arizona.

Last Season
UC Riverside took two of three from Arizona in Tucson in 2005. The Highlanders opened the series with a 12-8 win on Saturday, clinched the series win with a 3-1 victory on Saturday and narrowly missed being the only team last season to sweep a three-game series vs. Arizona with a 5-4 loss on Sunday. In doing so, UCR joined Texas, Cal State Fullerton and Cal as the only four schools to win a three-game series against the Wildcats in the regular season. UCR hit .308 to UA’s .269 in the series and posted a 3.81 ERA on the mound. Aaron Grant, UCR’s leading hitter this season, led all players by batting .455 (5 for 11) with three walks, a double, a RBI and two runs scored in the series.

Offensive Numbers
After the initial three games of the year, the Arizona offense is batting an even .300 (30 for 100) and is averaging 10 hits, 6.7 runs, 1.3 doubles and 6.0 RBI per game. Collecting four doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs have led to a .440 slugging percentage. The Wildcats were patient when needed, drawing 14 walks while striking out 15 times. Led by three HBP from Colt Sedbrook, LMU hurlers also plunked six UA batters which helped lead to a .410 on-base percentage in the series.

Pitching Numbers
The Arizona arms have opened the first three games of the year with a 4.67 ERA in 27 innings pitched. The UA hurlers have struck out 23 hitters and walked nine through the first three games. LMU batted .271 (29 for 107) as a team against the Wildcat staff on opening weekend.

One Pitch, One Swing, Two Accomplishments
Freshman Jon Gaston hit the first collegiate pitch thrown to him over the right field fence at Kindall Field in UA’s season-opener last Friday. The home run marked the first time since Nick Hundley in 2003 that a UA player homered in his first career at-bat. Hitting the home run as pinch hitter, Gaston’s HR was also the first for a replacement batter at Arizona since Dallas Haught went yard for the Wildcats as a PH against Washington State on 4/19/2003.

Firsts All Around
In addition to Jon Gaston’s dramatic HR in his first career AB, the opening game of the year against LMU provided a number of firsts for Arizona players. RS freshman Daniel Schlereth tallied his first save in his first UA appearance and sophomore starter Eric Berger picked up his first win as a starting pitcher (he went 6-2 last season with all the decisions coming in relief). True freshman T.J. Steele posted his first career hit and RBI in his first collegiate AB, while JC transfer Tyson Moll picked up his first DI hit and RBI in a pinch hitting role later in the game. Fellow JC transfers Colt Sedbrook and Konrad Schmidt each posted their first multi-hit games (the pair finished with two hits each) against the Lions.

Bullpen Bullies
The Arizona bullpen pulled more than its fair share of weight in UA’s series against Loyola Marymount last weekend. The relief staff teamed up for a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings of work against the Lions. They finished the three-game set with 15 strikeouts against only four walks and tallied one win and a pair of saves. Highlights out of the pen included Brad Mills (3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K) who got his career first win, Daniel Schlereth (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K) who picked up his first career save, Preston Guilmet (3 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and closer (for now) Mark Melancon (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K).

Move Over Moskau
Junior right-hander Mark Melancon made a bit of history in his season debut last weekend. UA’s closer posted his 15th career save in three hitless innings of relief in Saturday’s 5-3 win over LMU. The effort pushed him out of the tie he shared with Ryan Moskau for the all-time saves lead at Arizona. Melancon posted three saves his freshman season of 2004, including a pair in UA’s run to the College World Series, and a single season school record 11 last year to tie the record at 14.
Moskau, who like Melancon tallied his former record 14 saves in two seasons, pitched at Arizona from 1997-98 and posted six saves in his first year and eight his second season after transferring from Pepperdine. Moskau was a sixth-round pick as a junior in the 1998 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

No Move For Melancon
While it might not hold up for the rest of the year, Mark Melancon will remain as Arizona’s closer for the upcoming series against UC Riverside. The starting rotation however has been slightly altered with sophomore LHP Eric Berger (1-0) and freshman RHP Mike Colla (0-0) remaining on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Junior LHP Brad Mills (1-0) will toe the rubber as a the Sunday starter, taking over for sophomore LHP David Coulon (0-1) who will move into middle relief out of the bullpen. Mills will be making his first career start against the Highlanders.

Getting Off to a Slow Start
The bad news is that through the first three games this season Arizona has trailed after the first inning in all three games. The Wildcats have been out-scored 4-1 in the first inning, 6-3 in the first two frames and 13-9 after three. The good news is that the relatively young offense has overcome the early deficits twice and has out-scored the opposition 11-7 over the final six innings, including a 6-2 advantage in the fourth inning. The pitching staff has also done its part after surrendering an early lead, giving up just two runs in the fourth while blanking the opposition in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

Newcomers Chipping In
With the departure of so many offensive stars from last year, there was no doubt that the influx of newcomers would have to contribute, and so far they have. Freshman Brad Glenn has two doubles and two RBI in three career ABs. Sophomore Matt Denker is 2 for 4 with a double and RBI in one career start. Classmate Colt Sedbrook is batting .333 with three runs scored and two RBI in three starts. Junior Konrad Schmidt leads all players with five hits and has scored a run and driven in a pair thus far. Freshman T.J. Steele has three RBI and junior Stephen Pearson has three hits in the early going. As the saying goes ?'One series does not make a season’, but the newcomers have already shown they are ready to be steady contributors to the Wildcats’ cause.

Don’t Forget About Us
Not be outdone by the newcomers, returners Jason Donald (HR, 3B, 4 RBI, 3 R), Brad Boyer (3B, 4 R, 3 SB) and Derek Decater (.300, 2 R) have all done their part in the early season success.

Preseason Pac-10 Poll
The Wildcats have been picked to finish in a tie for fifth in the conference this year in the annual preseason coaches poll. Defending champ Oregon State was selected to hold on to the top spot, while USC was picked to finish second, Stanford and Arizona State to share third and the Wildcats and Cal earned a tie for the fifth spot.

The Non-Conference Slate
Arizona is set to meet up with 12 teams outside of the Pac-10 Conference and twice with rival Arizona State in non-conference games. Some non-conference opponents Arizona faced just last year (Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UNLV, UC Riverside, New Mexico, Arizona State and Mississippi State), some in the not so distant past (Loyola Marymount 1999, Minnesota 2003, Notre Dame 2004, and Southern Utah 2002), one in the way bygone (Nebraska 1939) and one never at all (La Salle). The Wildcats went 22-14 in non-conference action last year including the NCAA tournament.

Preseason Awards
Arizona juniors Jason Donald and Mark Melancon have been honored by Baseball America with preseason All-America honors. Donald was named to the preseason second team, while Melancon garnered third-team honors.

Clemens Award Watch List
Junior Mark Melancon was one of 40 collegiate players nationwide to be named to the early watch list for the 2006 Roger Clemens Award. The award is presented to the top player in the nation upon the conclusion of the year. UA’s John Meloan was named to the watch list a year ago for the Wildcats.

Attendance Accolade
The opening day crowd of 2,205 against LMU on Feb. 3 this year was the largest at Sancet Stadium to open a season since 3,287 fans came to see New Mexico defeat the Wildcats 10-4 in 10 innings in 1993. The ?'93 cats were just two outs shy of making an appearance in Omaha and finished the season with 35-26 record. After the first three home games of the year, Arizona is averaging 1,354 fans per contest.

Renovations Replay
The offseason was busy time around Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium. After the July summer camps wrapped up the heavy equipment moved in, tore out the entire playing surface, a total of six rows of bleachers and the old score board. In their stead was placed a laser-leveled playing surface, grass berms for seating down both the right and left field lines and a new score board and video board. Also added was a billboard in right field with UA’s 15 CWS appearances and three national titles represented. The left field area behind the grass berm, which is still under construction, is being remade into a Legends Plaza and picnic area. The plaza will honor all the individual award winners at UA, as well as the team members from UA’s 15 CWS teams.

Looking Ahead
The recently completed/on going renovations are just phase one of a two-part job. On the drawing board are a new entranceway, concourses, concession stands and restrooms. Sun shades over some of the seating areas in the main grand stand and a new press box. Work is scheduled to begin at the conclusion of the 2006 baseball summer camps.

Doing the Streak
Entering Friday’s game senior Brad Boyer has started the most consecutive games for any of the current UA players (68 straight) and he and Konrad Schmidt have collected at least one hit in all three contests for the longest current hitting streaks ... Dating back to last year Boyer has also been successful in his last six stolen base attempts (three last year, three in 2006).

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