Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Baseball Preps For New Mexico
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 14, 2006
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Potential Starting Lineup
1 Brad Boyer L/R 3B Collected five hits and scored two runs at UCR
2 Jason Donald R/R SS Hit .333 with three doubles and three RBI at UCR
3 Eric Berger L/L DH Will also start on the mound on Sat
4 Konrad Schmidt R/R C Has at least one hit in all six games this season
5 Brad Glenn R/R 1B Three of his six hits this year are doubles
7 Derek Decater L/L LF Has batted in three different spots in the order
6 Colt Sedbrook R/R 2B Went 3 for 9 with two runs against UCR last weekend
8 T.J. Steele R/R CF Team leader with eight RBI this year
9 Jon Gaston L/L RF Batting .313 in six games this year
Fri. Mark Melancon RHP Will be making his second career start on Friday
Sat. Eric Berger LHP Is 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts 
Sun. Brad Mills LHP Made his first career start against UCR last weekend
CP Daniel Schlereth  LHP Has two saves, nine Ks and a 0.00 ERA in 7 2/3 IP

Last Week
The Wildcats went out on the road for the first time in 2006 and took two of three games from UC Riverside in Southern California. Arizona dropped the series-opener 8-5, but bounced back to take the three-game set with a 4-2 win on Saturday and an 11-5 victory on Sunday ... Arizona batted .318 as a team against the Highlanders (34 for 107) and finished the series with six doubles and a pair of triples ... On the mound, UA posted a 4.50 ERA in 26 innings pitched and finished with 25 strikeouts against just four walks. UCR batted .295 against the Wildcats.

A Quick Look at New Mexico
The Lobos have opened the 2006 season with a 3-1 overall record, winning two of three from Texas State last weekend after defeating New Mexico State in their season opener ... UNM plays Texas Tech on Tuesday before heading to Tucson for the three-game series with the Wildcats ... The Lobos are getting it done on the mound thus far, posting a 2.19 ERA though the first four games with 22 strikeouts against seven walks ... At the plate UNM is hitting .202 as a team and has collected just four extra base hits, all doubles ... Head coach Rich Alday, a native Tucsonan, is in his 17th season at UNM and has compiled a 460-455-3 record with the Lobos. Alday started the baseball program Pima Community College in Tucson in 1973 and spent 17 seasons as the head coach there.

The History
Arizona and New Mexico have met 184 times dating back to 1939. The Wildcats own a 156-28 record against the Lobos and have won the last 23 straight ... Arizona and New Mexico were conference rivals in WAC from 1963-1978 ... During its WAC days, Arizona posted a 75-21 advantage between the two and lost a six-game season series only once (2-4 in 1970).

23 In a Row
Dating back to Jan. 31, 1997, the Wildcats have won 23 straight games against New Mexico. After dropping a 7-3 decision in the opening game of a three-game series in Tucson in 1997, Arizona won the next two games that season, swept three-game series from 1998-2002, won a pair of games in 2003 and triumphed in all four contests last season. During the current winning streak the Wildcats have out-scored the Lobos 246-86 with all but five of the contests being decided by two or more runs. There have been a pair of one-run UA victories during the current streak, a 5-4 win in 1999 and a 9-8 victory in 1998. UNM had the tying run at third in the 1999 contest and it took a four-run eighth inning from the Wildcats in 1998 to keep the streak alive. Under current head coach Andy Lopez, Arizona is 9-0 against New Mexico. Andy Lopez recorded his first victory ever at Arizona against New Mexico in 2002..

Last Season vs. New Mexico
Arizona swept a three-game series in Tucson to open the 2005 season and won a mid-week contest later in the year against the Lobos. In the four games, the Wildcats batted .414 (67 for 162) as a team, and hit 20 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs. The pitching staff put together a 2.25 ERA in 36 innings, limited UNM to a .189 batting average and finished with 49 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Offensive Numbers
Through the first six games of the year, Arizona is batting .309 as a team, and is averaging 6.7 runs, 10.7 hits, 1.7 doubles and 6.2 RBI per game. The Wildcats have collected 16 extra base hits (10 doubles, four triples, two HR) to help them to a team .425 slugging percentage. A total of 21 walks and 16 HBP have factored into an impressive .411 team on-base percentage through six games.

Pitching Numbers
The Arizona pitching staff enters the third week of the season with a 4.58 team ERA in 53 innings of work. The UA arms have struck out 48 batters against just 13 walks for a better than three-to-one ratio. Opponents are batting .283 against the Wildcat staff and have hit just one HR this year.

Ouch, Take Your Base
The Wildcats have been pitch magnets thus far. Including a school record-tying six HBP against UC Riverside last Sunday, Arizona hitters have been plunked 16 times in six games in 2006 (an average of 2.6 HBP per game). Taking a dose at the plate might be something from the junior college ranks as JC transfers Colt Sedbrook (3), Stephen Pearson (3) and Konrad Schmidt (4) have been pelted a combined 10 times this year. Ironically, UA’s single season HBP record holder Jason Donald has yet to be hit by a pitch this year. Donald, who was hit by 10 pitches his freshman season and by 29 last year, "needs" just three more HBP to tie Kenny Corley for the career record at Arizona.

Bullpen Bullies
The Arizona bullpen is getting after it this year. In 27 2/3 innings, the UA relievers are 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA. They have saved three games, struck out 28 hitters and issued but six walks. The opposition is hitting a meager .190 against them and has just two extra base hits (both doubles).

Thanks to Schlereth, Melancon To Move
In what appears to be an even swap, Arizona is getting a new closer this weekend. All-time saves leader Mark Melancon will take the mound as the Friday night starter for the first time this season. His loss as the closer is tempered somewhat by the emergence of fellow Coloradan Daniel Schlereth. The southpaw transfer from UNLV has matched Melancon nearly pitch-for-pitch out of the pen this season allowing the coaching staff to make the move.
Schlereth vs. Melancon in 2006

Schlereth 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 2 Saves
Melancon 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 Save

Melancon Moves To Friday
As noted above,
Mark Melancon will take the ball from the get-go on Friday. The right-handed junior will be making his 66th appearance in a game at Arizona, but only his second start. His lone career start with the Wildcats came in his freshman season in 2004 against Arizona State in a mid-week non-conference game in Tempe. In a no-decision effort against the Sun Devils, Melancon went 4 1/3 innings, gave up five runs, four earned, on seven hits, struck out three and walked two. Arizona eventually lost the game 9-5.

Fitting Right In
Who says freshmen have to struggle? Certainly not T.J. Steele, Brad Glenn and Jon Gaston. The freshman trio has gotten off to a hot start for the Wildcats right from the word go. Steele, who is hitting .304, leads all players on the Arizona roster with eight RBI. He has scored five runs and four of his seven hits thus far have been for extra bases (two doubles, two triples). Glenn, who has played in four of six games and made three starts, is hitting .500 (6 for 12) with three doubles and three RBI, while Gaston is 5 for 16 (.313) with a HR, four RBI and two runs scored. Combined the freshmen trio is 18 for 51 (.352), with five doubles, two triples, a home run, 15 RBI and eight runs scored in six games.

Transfers Take Off
Much like their freshmen counterparts, the transfers on the Arizona roster have helped chip in thus far as well. Offensively, catcher Konrad Schmidt leads the way with a .375 batting average, a six-game hitting streak and three runs scored. Second baseman Colt Sedbrook is hitting .333 with a pair of runs driven in and five runs scored. As noted above, transfer Daniel Schlereth has held his own on the bump without giving up a run this season, while allowing just two hits and punching out nine hitters in 7 2/3 innings.

Leading It Off
Senior Brad Boyer has fit in nicely into the leadoff spot in the batting order, a spot held by first-round pick Trevor Crowe the last two years. In six games thus far, Boyer is batting .320 and has scored a team-best six runs. He has drawn five walks and been hit by a pitch to help lead to a .452 on-base percentage. He also leads the team with four stolen bases. Out of the leadoff spot as a freshman in 2003, Boyer batted .351 and finished the year with 71 runs, 16 doubles and 25 stolen bases.

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 against LMU on Feb. 3. 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.

Move Over Moskau
Junior right-hander Mark Melancon made a bit of history in his season debut against Loyola Marymount on Feb. 4. UA’s right-hander posted his 15th career save in three hitless innings of relief in a 5-3 win over the Lions. 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.

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.

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