Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Baseball Opens Pac-10 Slate at Cal
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 28, 2006
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Potential Starting Lineup
1 Brad Boyer L/R 2B Has scored a team-hig h23 runs this season
2 Stephen Pearson L/L 1B Started both games vs UC Irvine at first
3 Jason Donald R/R SS Leads UA with 21 RBI
4 Bill Rhinehart L/L RF Batted .429 with a HR and three RBI against UCI
5 Konrad Schmidt R/R C Johnny Bench Award Watch List honoree
6 David Plante L/R DH Went 1 for 3 in one start last week vs. UCI
7 Brad Glenn R/R LF Made just second career start in the OF last weekend
8 T.J. Steele  R/R CF Has started the last 14 straight games in CF
9 Colt Sedbrook R/R 3B Team leader with a .338 batting average
Thu.  Preston Guilmet RHP His 2.97 ERA as a starter is the lowest for any UA starter
Fri. Brad Mills LHP Has given up three or less earned runs in six of seven starts
Sat. David Coulon LHP First start since opening weekend - Feb. 
Sun. TBA
CP Mark Melancon RHP Has given up just one earned run out of the pen this year


On the Air
This weekend marks the beginning of 1290 AM’s broadcast schedule. Brian Jeffries will bring all the play-by-play action of the Wildcats live to Arizona fans over the radio and Internet. All four games that Arizona plays this weekend will be broadcast live. Thursday’s, Friday’s and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on 1290 AM. Saturday’s game has been moved to 1400 AM KTUC ... Sunday will also mark UA’s television debut this season, as Fox Sports Net Arizona will show the game against Arizona State at Chase Field live. Trey Bender and former UA head coach Jerry Kindall will call the game for the viewers.


Last Week

Arizona split a two-game series with UC Irvine in Tucson ... The Wildcats snapped a season-high six-game losing streak with a 5-1 win on Saturday, but couldn’t complete the two-game sweep after falling 7-1 on Sunday ... Arizona batted .281 in the series and posted a 3.50 ERA on the mound.


A Busy Stretch

Beginning with Thursday’s Pac-10 opener at Cal, the Arizona baseball team will kick off a stretch of 20 games in 32 days that will cover the end of March and the entire month of April. The pro-like schedule will feature three home series (vs. UCLA April 13-15, Stanford April 21-23 and Southern Utah April 25-26), three road trips to Berkeley (March 30-April 1), Corvallis (April 7-9) and Seattle (April 28-30) that will cover a total of 6,124 round trip miles traveled, a neutral-site game against Arizona State (April 2) in Chase Field and a exhibition game against the Tucson Sidewinders (April 4) at TEP.


A Quick Look at Cal

The Golden Bears, who play a non-conference game at Sacramento State on Tuesday, are coming off a two-to-one series win over Washington in their Pac-10-opening series last weekend in Berkeley ... After opening the season 1-4, Cal has won 13 of its last 20 games, with its season-high winning streak standing at four straight ... As a team, the Golden Bears are hitting .272 and are averaging five runs, 8.8 hits and 4.4 RBI per game through 25 contests ... Senior infielder Craig Allen leads the team with a .388 average in 25 games and has scored a team-best 19 runs ... Brennan Bosch and Chris Errecart are tied with six home runs each this year and have combined to drive in 32 runs ... On the mound, Arizona is likely to face Brandon Morrow, Tyson Ross and Michael Cooper ... Morrow is the staff ace with a 5-0 record, a 1.65 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched this season.


The History

Arizona and Cal have played 149 games prior to this weekend in a rivalry that dates back to 1951 ... The Wildcats hold an 87-62 advantage in the all-time series, but Cal took two of three from Arizona last season - which kept the Wildcats from sharing the Pac-10 title with eventual champion Oregon State.


Last Season

As noted above, the Golden Bears won two of three games in Tucson to close out the regular season last year to keep Arizona from sharing the Pac-10 title with Oregon State ... The series was played during severe thunder and lightening storms that caused the opening game to be held over to Saturday and the conclusion of the regularly scheduled Saturday contest to be held over until Sunday. Cal won the opening game 6-3, lost the middle contest, 10-5, and took the series 7-4 on Sunday.


Pac-10 Openers

Arizona will open its Pac-10 Conference schedule this weekend at Cal. The Golden Bears are already 2-1 in the conference after meeting up with Washington last weekend ... The year marks the first season since 2001 (at UCLA) that the Wildcats will open the league schedule on the road ... The Wildcats are 37-41-1 all-time on Pac-10-opening weekend dating back to 1979 ... UA has won two of three games in their league-opening series each of the last three years (UW, WSU and USC) ... The Wildcats last lost a conference-opening series in 2002 when it fell two games to one to ASU ... Arizona has opened conference play against Cal four times previous to this season, twice in Tucson (2000, 1981) and twice in Berkeley (1997, 1990) ... The Wildcats own an 8-4 record against the Golden Bears when UA has opened the Pac-10 slate against them ... Cal is the only conference school Arizona has swept on opening weekend (1997).


A Quick Look at Arizona State

The Sun Devils, who will travel to Washington State before taking on Arizona at Chase Field, head into the week of play with a 21-7 overall record and are currently ranked 10th in the Sports Weekly/USAToday Coaches Poll ... ASU has yet to begin Pac-10 play, but will remedy that against the Cougars in Pullman ... The Devils have team batting average of .322 and are averaging 7.7 runs. 11.3 hits and 7.2 RBI per game Willy Fox currently leads ASU with a .380 batting average and has scored a team-high 30 runs ... On the mound, ASU has a team ERA of 4.27 and has struck out 246 in 251 innings pitched.


The History

Arizona and Arizona State have met 408 times on the baseball diamond in a rivalry that dates back to 1907. The Wildcats currently enjoy a 224-183-1 overall record in the series, and took four of five games from the Devils in 2005.


Challenge at Chase

The Wildcats and Sun Devils will be meeting at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year marks the first time the two schools will meet in the downtown venue, with plans to play a non-conference game there on an annual basis. Proceeds from the game will go to help build a baseball field in Arizona through the Diamondbacks’ “Diamonds Back” organization.


Playing Where The Pros Play

The game at Chase Field against Arizona State will be the second of three professional venues Arizona will play in this year. The Wildcats went 2-1 in the Dairy Queen Classic hosted by Minnesota in the Metrodome earlier this month, and will play the Tucson Sidewinders, the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Tucson Electric Park in an exhibition game next week.


M * A * S * H

The Wildcats have recently been bitten by the injury bug. Senior Derek Decater was hurt in a collision with the outfield fence in the Metrodome on March 3 and will be out for another couple of weeks. Classmate Brad Boyer strained his hip in practice last week and missed the two-game series against UC Irvine, but he should return for this weekend’s action. Sophomore Eric Berger (elbow) and freshman Jon Gaston (wrist) also missed the series with the Anteaters and will be evaluated throughout the week for future playing status. Add in a case of food poisoning for Berger and junior Jason Donald at Mississippi State, and Arizona has certainly been hit hard.


Rotational Movement

Eric Berger’s ailing elbow has caused a change in the Arizona pitching rotation for the series at Cal. Freshman right-hander Preston Guilmet will move from his normal No. 2 spot into the No. 1 slot. Left-hander Brad Mills will also jump up a day and will pitch in the second game of the series, while fellow southpaw David Coulon will return to the rotation as the No. 3 starter, a spot he held at the opening of the season. UA’s starter for the game against Arizona State in Phoenix on Sunday is TBA.


Offensive Numbers

Entering the week of play, the Arizona offense is batting .271 as a team, and is averaging 5.8 runs, nine hits and 5.4 RBI per game ... Arizona currently leads the Pac-10 with 17 triples.


Pitching Numbers

Through the first 23 games, the Wildcats have posted a 4.41 team ERA in 204 innings pitched, and have 226 strikeouts against 82 walks ... Arizona is second in the Pac-10 in strikeouts and is just 20 behind conference leader Arizona State despite playing five fewer games thus far.


The Competition’s Been Tough

Arizona has faced a pretty tough slate in the month of March. The Wildcats have taken on three ranked teams, No. 11 Nebraska, No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 7 Cal State Fullerton, that have a combined overall record of 56-11 thus far. The Huskers, who are currently fifth in the nation in the Sports Weekly/USAToday Coaches Poll and just saw a 13-game win streak come to an end, scored two late runs to defeat Arizona 3-1 at the Dairy Queen Classic. The Bulldogs, currently ranked No. 2 overall, went undefeated through the first 18 games of the year ( including a 3-2, 9-2, 5-4 series sweep of Arizona) and is currently 19-1 overall. The Titans, who were swept on opening weekend by Stanford and have since won 20 of their last 24 games (including a series sweep of the Wildcats), are currently ranked No. 4 in the poll


Close, but ...

Arizona has had its opportunities to win some of the close games they have lost during the past three weekends. Missing a key hit here or there has left numerous runners on base, a lot of them in scoring position. Listed below are Arizona’s last seven losses and the number of LOB and runners in scoring position

Date Opp Score LOB Scoring Pos.
March 10 No. 15 Mississippi State 3-2 6 4
March 11 No. 15 Mississippi State 9-2 10 6
March 12 No. 15 Mississippi State 5-4 5 3
March 17 No. 7 Cal State Fullerton 6-4 3 2
March 18 No. 7 Cal State Fullerton 5-3 6 3
March 19 No. 7 Cal State Fullerton 5-3 0 0
March 26 UC Irvine 7-1 14 9
Totals 40-19 44 27

The Big Inning

A stumbling block for the Wildcats this season has been surrendering the big inning. In seven of UA’s 12 losses this year Arizona has given up three or more runs in a frame. In most cases the big inning has been a factor in the final score, in a few others, not so much

Opponent Inning Runs Final Score
2/5 Loyola Marymount 8th 3


2/10 UC Riverside* 2nd 3 8-5
2/10 UC Riverside* 6th 4 8-5
2/17 New Mexico 3rd 4 6-5
2/18 New Mexico 8th 4 7-3
3/11 Mississippi State 8th 5 9-2
3/17 Cal State Fullerton 5th 4 6-4
3/16 UC Irvine  8th 6 7-1


Mound Construction

Engineering major Brad Mills has done some fine work on the mound as a starter in the Arizona rotation. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 42 strikeouts overall this season. He has set a new career-high for strikeouts three times already, helped team up with closer Mark Melancon for Arizona’s lone shut out of the year against Notre Dame and he has given up three earned runs or less in si x of his seven starts this season. All the numbers are impressive on their own, but when taking into consideration that Mills has already surpassed his first two seasons innings pitched totals in just this year alone, they stand out even more.

Mills First Two Seasons vs. 2006

Year(s) ERA W L IP K
2004-05 4.63 0 1 23.1 19
2006 3.38 2 1 40 42


Melancon Mows ?'Em Down

Wildcat closer Mark Melancon has been nearly untouchable out of the bullpen this season. Having surrendered just one earned run in relief this season, the right-hander currently leads the Wildcats with a Pac-10 Conference-best 1.62 ERA. Out of the pen, Melancon has struck out 39 batters and walked only seven in 28 1/3 innings pitched and opponents are hitting just .168 against him. The “as the closer” qualifier must be used because in his one start this season the junior surrendered a career-high six runs on five hits to New Mexico, and thus his return to the bullpen.

Melancon Starting vs. Relief Numbers This Season

Starting (1 start)
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