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Baseball Hosts UC Irvine For Two
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/23/2006
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Potential Starting Lineup
1 Brad Boyer L/R 2B Has scored a team-high 23 runs this season
2 Jason Donald R/R SS Hit his 16th career HR last weekend
3 Eric Berger L/L DH Five of 10 hits this year are doubles
4 Brad Glenn R/R 1B Has started 16 of 18 games at 1B 
5 Konrad Schmidt R/R C Hit two doubles against Fullerton last weekend
6 Jon Gaston L/L RF Has a double, two triples and two HR this year
7 T.J. Steele R/R CF Second on the team with 16 RBI
8 David Plante L/L LF Had a hit and two RBI against Fullerton
9 Colt Sedbrook R/R 3B Team leader with a .333 batting average
Pitching
Fri.. Eric Berger LHP Fifth in the Pac-10 in strikeouts 
Sat.  Preston Guilmet RHP Has a 3.80 ERA as a starter
Sun. Brad Mills LHP Went a career-high six innings last weekend
CP Mark Melancon RHP Has given up just one earned run out of the pen this year

 

Last Week

Arizona saw its losing streak extend to six straight games as No. 7 Cal State Fullerton came to Tucson and swept a three-game series at Kindall Field ... All three losses to the Titans were by two runs ... The series saw the Wildcats miss out on opportunities after having the go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth inning in both Friday and Saturday’s losses and surrendering a late lead on Sunday ... UA managed just a .172 team batting average in the three games ... The pitching staff posted a 5.00 ERA and struck out 25 in 27 innings pitched over the weekend.

 

A Quick Look at UC Irvine

The Anteaters enter Tucson with a 17-9 overall record and a five-game win streak ... UCI swept a three-game series with Oral Roberts last weekend, defeated Loyola Marymount in a mid-week contest and took the series finale against Houston to match its season high for consecutive wins ... Offensively UCI is batting .278 as a team and averaging 5.8 runs, nine hits and five RBI per game ... Senior Gary Dudrey has a team-best .415 batting average and has scored 20 runs and stolen 12 bases this season ... First baseman Jamie Martinez is one of four UCI hitters with two home runs and paces the club with 22 RBI ... On the mound, UCI has posted a 3.67 ERA in 26 games, and has struck out 178 batters in 235 1/3 innings pitched ... Right-hander Scott Gorgen is 3-1 this season, and has a 2.38 ERA ... Closer Blair Erickson, the current Big West Pitcher of the Week, is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA and eight saves in 14 appearances in 2006 ... UCI is led by second-year head coach Dave Serrano.

 

The History

Arizona and UC Irvine have met 22 times on diamond since 1971 ... The Wildcats hold a 14-6-2 advantage in the all-time series, but the Anteaters are 4-0-1 in the last five meetings over the last two years ... 2006 marks the fifth straight year the two schools have met in the regular season.

 

Last Season

UC Irvine swept a pair of games from Arizona in Sacramento last year ... UCI won a one-run game, 4-3, on Friday, and blew out the Wildcats 12-1 on a rainy Saturday in Northern California ... The weekend was total washout for the Wildcats, who also lost to host school Sacramento State on Sunday, while UCI defeated Sac State to wrap up a perfect weekend record.

 

The Big West

UC Irvine is the third and final Big West school scheduled to face Arizona in the regular season. The Wildcats have already taken two of three games from UC Riverside and were swept by Cal State Fullerton last weekend for a 2-4 record against the conference thus far. The weekend also marks the end of an eight-week string of non-conference games for Arizona. UA will open Pac-10 play next week when it travels to Berkeley for three games at Cal.

 

Offensive Numbers

Entering the weekend against UC Irvine, the Arizona offense is batting .270 as a team, and is averaging 6.1 runs, nine hits, 1.8 doubles and 5.7 RBI per game ... Arizona leads the Pac-10 with 17 triples, and is tied for third in the conference with  25 stolen bases.

 

Pitching Numbers

Through the first 21 games, the Wildcats have posted a 4.50 team ERA in 186 innings pitched, and have 206 strikeouts against 78 walks ... Arizona is currently fourth in the Pac-10 in strikeouts, and trails conference leader UCLA by just nine despite playing five less games ... UA is averaging 9.96 strikeouts per nine innings this season.

 

Losing Streaks

The Wildcats are currently mired in the longest losing streak since the end of the 2003 season. While the number of consecutive losses are the same, this season’s six-game streak and the ?'03 six-game streak’s similarities end at the length. The current one has seen UA drop two one-run decisions and three two-run decisions, the largest margin of defeat was a seven-run loss at Mississippi State. The 2003 losing streak had a single one-run loss, two three-run losses, a 16-run shutout loss, a 13-run defeat and an eight-run loss. All six of the UA’s defeats during the current streak have come from ranked opponents, while just three of the 2003 losses were to ranked foes.

 

The Competition’s Been Tough

Arizona has faced a pretty tough slate over the past three weeks. All seven of UA’s losses during that time have come from veteran teams ranked in the top 25. Nebraska, which was ranked 11th when it beat UA 3-1 on March 4, has won 11 straight games and is now ranked fourth in the Sports Weekly Coaches’ Poll. Mississippi State, which was No. 15 when it swept UA 3-2, 9-2, 5-4 in Starkville, remains the lone undefeated team in Division I at 16-0 and is currently ranked seventh in the nation. Cal State Fullerton, which was No. 7 in the polls when it swept UA 6-4, 5-3, 5-3 this past weekend, has won eight straight games, 17 of its last 20 and is currently ranked fifth in the nation. Added up, the three opponents have won 35 straight games and have an average ranking 5.3.

 

Close, but ...

Arizona has had its opportunities to halt a season-high six-game losing streak a number of times along the way. The Wildcats have stranded 30 runners on base during the stretch, including 18 on second or third, which is a huge factor when considering that three of the losses have been by two runs and two of them by just one. A key hit here or there, and who knows?

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
Totals 0-6 33-18 30 18

 

Going For One

During the six game losing streak the Wildcats have hit three more doubles (10-7), one more triple (4-3) and the same number of home runs (2-2) as their opposition. The two most glaring differences on offense is in the number of singles and walks. Mississippi State and Cal State Fullerton have combined for 47 one-base hits and 31 walks over the last six games. Arizona has managed just 23 singles over the same span and drawn just 10 walks.

 

Mound Construction

Engineering major Brad Mills has done some fine work on the mound as the third starter in the Arizona rotation. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA and 37 strikeouts overall this season. He has set a new career-high for strikeouts three times already, and he also helped team up with closer Mark Melancon for Arizona’s lone shut out of the year against Notre Dame. 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 3.74 2 0 33.2 37
 

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 an impressive 1.74 ERA (second-best in the Pac-10). Out of the pen, Melancon has struck out 34 batters and walked only six in 26 innings pitched. As the closer, opponents are hitting just .183 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) 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, .333 Opp BA
Relief (9 app) 3-1, 2 saves, 0.35 ERA, 26 IP, 16 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 34 K, .182 Opp BA

 

Not Your Typical Closer

As noted above, Mark Melancon has posted some very nice numbers out of the bullpen in the early going for Arizona. What makes them even more impressive is that the junior is not a typical one-inning closer. In nine relief appearances, the right-hander has gone two or more innings seven times, and has pitched three or more innings five time.. UA’s trip to Minneapolis proved the value to Arizona of his ability to go longer in games. Clinging to a 4-2 lead with the tying runs on base in the sixth inning against Minnesota on Friday, Melancon entered and ended the Gopher threat with a pair of strikeouts and then held them scoreless over the final three innings in an eventual 7-2 Arizona win. Two days later, Melancon entered a 0-0 game with Notre Dame and held the Fighting Irish scoreless over the final 4 2/3 innings, which allowed the Wildcat offense to pull off a 2-0, 10-inning victory despite getting out-hit 10 to 4 in the game.

 

Coulon Comes Through

Despite a minor blip against Cal State Fullerton last Sunday, left-hander David Coulon has done a fine job working out of the bullpen this season. In four relief appearances, the sophomore has worked 7 2/3 innings, struck out seven batters, issued just one walk and posted a 2.35 ERA.

 

Guilmet Gets the Nod

Freshman right-hander Preston Guilmet moved into the weekend rotation on Feb. 26, and has made an impression in three career starts. Starting against La Salle, No. 11 Nebraska, at No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 7 Cal State Fullerton, Guilmet has gone seven innings twice and given up a combined 10 runs on 25 hits, while striking out 24 and walking only seven.

Guilmet Relief vs. Starting Numbers

Relief (4 app) 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 9 1/3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 14 K, .243 Opp BA
Starting (4 starts) 1-3, 3.80 ERA, 23 2/3 IP, 25 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 7 BB, 24 K, .272 Opp BA

 

Preston Presses On

Freshman Preston Guilmet has been the recipient of a couple of tough losses. The right-hander is 1-3 this season, but in his three losses he has given up just a total of nine runs on 19 hits in 16 2/3 innings pitched. The Wildcat offense has posted a combined six runs in those three losses, a 3-1 decision to No. 11 Nebraska, a 9-2 defeat to No. 15 Mississippi State and a 5-3 loss to No. 7 Cal State Fullerton.

 

Taking a Dose

Maybe an orange safety vest should be required for the Arizona hitters this season. Opponent pitchers are averaging two hit batters per game through 21 contests this year. Should the Wildcat opposition keep plunking batters at such a rate, Arizona will end up crushing the 2002 school record of 69 hit batters set in 55 games (1.3/game). With the current average, Arizona is on pace for 112 HBP in the regular season and would break its single season record in just its 35th game.

        Individually, sophomore Colt Sedbrook has been plunked by a Pac-10-high 13 pitches in 21 games this season and is just six HBP away from tying teammate Jason Donald’s single season record of 19 set last season.

 

Bulls Eye

Getting plunked in back-to-back ABs against La Salle on .Feb. 25 moved junior Jason Donald past Kenny Corley for the top spot on the all-time HBP list at Arizona. Donald, who was hit by 10 pitches his freshman season and by 19 last year, has been hit by four pitches in 17 games this season for an all-time high of 33. To put Donald’s record-breaking wayward pitch magnetism in perspective, Corley’s former record of 32 was set in 201 games played over four seasons (1995-98). Donald’s 33 HBP have happened in two-plus seasons and just 143 games played.

 

Helping Hand

When not taking the mound as the Friday starter, left-hander Eric Berger has helped his pitching staffmates as the DH. Starting 11 games in the batting order, Berger has  found more than a little success. In 29 at-bats this season, the sophomore has 10 hits, five doubles, four runs scored and a very impressive 10 RBI. At Mississippi State, Berger became the first player at UA since Marc Kaiser in 2002 to start a game as the pitcher/DH.

 

The Nine Hole

The last spot in the batting order has been one of the most productive for Arizona this season. The No. 9 hole in the order has seen the seven players that have hit there hit a batting order-best .333 (23 for 99) with 13 runs scored, 12 RBI and two of UA’s seven home runs this season. Sophomore Colt Sedbrook, who has started eight games as the No. 9 hitter, leads all players with a .406 average, nine runs scored and five RBI out of the bottom spot in the order.

 

Double D on the DL

Outfielder Derek Decater will not be available this weekend after injuring his shoulder in a collision with the left field fence at the Metrodome on March 3. After entering the game as a defensive replacement against Minnesota, the senior collided with the wall on the first ball hit to him in the sixth inning. Decater’s injury led to a defensive adjustment that saw Arizona lose the DH in the batting order and allow reliever Mark Melancon to get two at-bats. Melancon went 0 for 2 with a pair of strikeouts.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Roger 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.

 

Johnny Bench Award Watch List

Junior Konrad Schmidt is one of 26 players nationwide to be named to the Johnny Bench Award which is annually presented to the top catcher in the country. Schmidt is currently hitting .263 with four doubles and eight RBI and he has thrown out 11 would-be base stealers this season. Former Wildcat Nick Hundley was one of three finalists for the award last year.

 

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

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