April 28, 2009
No. 3 Arizona State (31-9, 15-3 Pac-10) Arizona (19-20, 5-13 Pac-10)
Wednesday, April 29 – 3 p.m.
Tucson, Ariz. – Jerry Kindall Field
Catch the Cats on the Radio: If fans can't make it to the game on Wednesday, Brian Jeffries will call the action live on the Arizona Wildcats Radio Network on 1290 A.M. Arizona All-Access subscribers can also watch a live webcast of the game here. Free live stats are also available through Gametracker.
Some Game Themes: Intra-state rivals UA and ASU meet for the fourth time in 2009, as the Sun Devils swept the Wildcats in Tempe back in March to open the Pac-10 season for both teams … Wednesday’s game, and another on May 20 in Tucson, are non-conference games … Both teams are expected to utilize their pitching staffs on a “staff day” and neither has declared a starter … The top two hitting clubs in the Pac-10, Arizona holds a slight edge (.302-.301) against Pac-10 Conference teams … The only two hitters in the league hitting over .400 – UA’s Dillon Baird (.416) and ASU’s Jason Kipnis (.405) – seek to continue their spectacular campaigns … The two squads top the Pac-10 in stolen bases, with ASU (66) edging out UA (58) for the top spot … The Sun Devils have an edge on the mound as they lead the Pac-10 with a .266 ERA compared to UA’s ninth-ranked 5.41 ERA.
Series History: The Wildcats and Sun Devils have met 425 times on the baseball diamond dating back over 100 years to the first contest in 1907. The two teams split the four games in 2008, with the Wildcats taking 2-of-3 in the Pacific-10 Conference series that concluded each school’s regular season. This year, the Sun Devils swept the Wildcats in Tempe, winning all three conference games March 20-22. Arizona leads the all-time series 231-193-1.
A Glance at the Devils: Arizona State continues to lead the Pac-10 with a 15-3 league mark that gives it a 3.5 game lead in the standings, and its 31-9 overall tally has helped put the Sun Devils at No. 3 in this week’s Baseball America rankings … ASU (.302) is one of three Pac-10 clubs batting over .300 on the season, and is led by Jason Kipnis (.405), who trails only UA’s Dillon Baird (.416) for the conference batting title chase … The big key to ASU’s dominance in the league this year is certainly its outstanding pitching, as the Sun Devils boast a 2.66 ERA that is a full run per nine innings better than any other Pac-10 club … ASU certainly has shown discipline at the plate, as well, coming in with the fourth fewest strikeouts in the league (280), while leading the way in walks (227) … ASU also leads the Pac-10 with 66 stolen bases.
Stanford Series Recap: Arizona won its first Pac-10 series of the season at Stanford, capturing Games 1 and 3 by scores of 11-1 and 8-7 … The Wildcats outscored the Cardinal 27-17 over the three games, and out-hit Stanford .330-.253 in terms of batting average … Brad Glenn led the Wildcats offensively, breaking out of a lengthy slump as he went 6-for-12, drove in five runs, scored three and hit his 40th career home run … On Friday night, Preston Guilmet turned in a solid seven innings of work while limited Stanford to only one run … Guilmet was rewarded with his sixth career Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor … On Sunday, Jason Stoffel earned his eighth save of the season as the Wildcats hung on to win the game and the series … A pair of freshman – Jett Bandy (5-for-10) and Steve Selsky (4-for-5) – turned in stellar weekeneds at the plate, which pushed their averages over .300 to .311 and .307, respectively … The Pac-10’s top hitter, Dillon Baird (.416), also was steady at the plate, going 6-for-13, and drove in three runs.
Dillon is Delivering: Junior first baseman Dillon Baird has turned in exceptional numbers during his second season with the Wildcats. The Prescott, Ariz., native is hitting a team-best .416, is second on the team with 35 runs scored, and leads all Wildcats with 36 RBI. He also leads the club in slugging (.664) and on-base percentage (.503). His batting average leads the Pac-10, while his slugging and on-base percentages check in at No. 5 and No. 2, respectively. The left hand hitter is second on club with five home runs and his 19 walks are second most on the team. Additionally, Baird has shown marked improvement defensively, posting a fielding percentage of .987 while committing only four errors on the season – the fewest for any regular infield player on the club.
Standard Ortega: Sophomore shortstop Bryce Ortega gets the moniker for his steady play in the field that has been exceptional at times and is backed up by the fact he has committed only one error in 18 Pac-10 games and leads all conference players with 147 assists on the season. But, Ortega has been one of UA’s steadiest offensive performers throughout the 2009 season as well. The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native is hitting .356 on the season – second on club – and leads the team with 44 runs scored. Ortega, who stole 13 bases in 15 attempts a season ago, is a 13-for-15 in steals this season. Additionally, Ortega, who has spent most of his time hitting in the leadoff spot, also has 27 RBI, which ranks third on the team. He is slugging .503 and is reaching base at a .455 clip, thanks in part to his 23 walks and five hit-by-pitches this season.
A Chance at Redemption: Arizona will get two chances to redeem themselves against ASU after dropping a three-game conference series at ASU in March. The first chance comes on Wednesday while the last will be on May 20. The series in Tempe to open the conference season was certainly forgettable for the Wildcats, as they hit just .220 over the three games and were outscored 34-13 in the series, mostly lopsided thanks to a 23-9 loss in the finale. The series was kind, however, to a pair of previously mentioned Wildcats – Dillon Baird and Bryce Ortega. Baird went 5-for-10 in the series, ripped four doubles and drove in three runs, while Ortega went 6-for-10 with three runs scored. Pitching was certainly a downfall for the Wildcats, as they combined walk 22 batters, allow 34 runs (31 earned) and total a 11.62 team ERA (eight pitchers saw action).
Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Preston Guilmet was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday after leading the Wildcats to an 11-1 victory at Stanford. A right hander, Guilmet picked up his first road win of the season and pushed his overall record to 3-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.63. Ranked No. 4 in Pac-10 history and No. 3 at Arizona for career strikeouts (385), Guilmet fanned only three Cardinal hitters last Friday, but turned in season lows for hits (5) and runs allowed (1). The native of Citrus Heights, Calif., stifled Cardinal hitters all evening long, preventing any chance of a Stanford rally as opposing hitters were 0-for-7 on the night with runners on base. The weekly award is the sixth-all-time for Guilmet, who was honored as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year in 2007 when he boasted a 12-2 record and a 1.87 ERA. He was recognized four times in his sensational sophomore season and once a year ago as a junior. Earlier this season, junior Jason Stoffel was tabbed Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17 after tallying a pair of saves in three dominating performances against Oklahoma State and Michigan. All-time, Arizona pitchers have been tabbed 42 times for the weekly award.
Back Home Again: After a season-long seven game road trip, the Wildcats are back at home for the next four. Looking further ahead, the Wildcats play 11 of the remaining 16 games at home, which includes 11 of the next 13 games. Arizona travels to Oregon to end the season.
Childs Play: Arizona catcher Dwight Childs is turning in a breakout junior season. Through 39 games, Childs has started in 24, sharing time with classmate Daniel Butler. But Childs has made the most of his time, hitting a career best .330 one year removed from his .193 campaign as a sophomore. Childs, who had one career home run through two seasons, already has three in 2009 and his 24 RBI already surpassed his 15 from the entire 2008 season. Last month at UCLA, he hit a team best .750, reached base at a .846 clip and slugged an incredible 1.625 in three starts behind the plate at UCLA. Childs, in only eight official at bats, tallied six hits, including one double and two home runs. He scored five runs and batted in seven runs to pace the Wildcats. Childs also walked four times and was hit by a pitch once and reached base an amazing 12 consecutive plate appearances.
We’ll Take Two, or Three! Out of Arizona’s 438 hits on the year, 151 have gone for extra bases. UA’s preferred extra base hit on the season seems to be the double, as they have hit a double in every game of the season except the April 14 game against New Mexico. The Wildcats have hit 98 doubles on the season which averages out to 2.51 doubles per game. Entering the week, the per game figure ranked No. 16 in the nation. UA also has laced 20 triples on the season, which ranks No. 8 in the nation. Seven different Wildcats have tripled on the season, with four players tallying three triples (Dillon Baird, Bobby Coyle, Bryce Ortega and Dwight Childs).
Stoffel is No. 1: Jason Stoffel continues to close out games for the Wildcats at a record-breaking clip. In fact, each save he earns the rest of the way in his career will break his own career record for saves. On Feb. 20, Stoffel earned his 19th career save to surpass Mark Melancon as the program’s all-time leader in the category. Now, the Baseball American pre-season first team All-American season stands alone with 26 career saves. In mid April, Stoffel was named a mid-season watch list honoree for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award. The junior is also competing with teammate Cory Burns for most appearances on the season (currently 27), as both are within reach of breaking the school record for appearances in a season.
Turning Two: Arizona is turning double plays at a record pace entering this week and actually was the top club nationally in turning double plays earlier in the year. A season ago, the Wildcats turned only 47 on the entire season. This season’s tally of 49 (1.26 per game) projects to nearly 75 on the season, which would come close to breaking the school record of 81 in a season set by the 1979 club. In fact, the highest total in the Lopez era is the 60 turned by the 2003 team. UA’s per-game mark was No. 8 in the nation entering the week, and UA turned four in the three-game series at Stanford.
Feeling the Burns: Senior RHP Cory Burns has been one of the club’s top options out of the bullpen early in 2009, having pitched in 28 of UA’s first 39 games … Burns, who earned his first victory of the year on Sunday at Stanford and has one save, has pitched 34.0 innings and struck out 38 batters … At his current pace (appeared in 72 percent of UA’s games), he would break the UA record for appearances in a single season, which is currently held by Tod Brown, who pitched in 35 games in 1993 (Top-10 can be found on page 63 of UA media guide) … Burns, who leads all Pac-10 pitchers in appearances this season, has been one of UA’s most reliable relievers in recent years and he is quickly moving up the UA career chart for career appearances … To date, Burns has appeared in 82 career games, which is No. 3 all-time at UA (Top-10 can be found on page 61 of UA media guide). He needs six more appearances to tie Ron Sismondo as UA’s all-time leader for appearances.
Glenny Hits No. 40: With his six home runs on the season, senior Brad Glenn has a total of 40 round-trippers in his four seasons at Arizona. That mark is No. 2 all-time at Arizona, trailing only Shelley Duncan, who blasted 55 home runs as a Wildcat. Glenn also has been hit by 42 pitches, which is also good for No. 2 all-time at Arizona. Again, he’ll have a tough time catching the leader, Colt Sedbrook, who was hit by a pitch 55 times in his career. Interestingly, 55 is the all-time mark in the two categories. Lastly, look for Glenn to move into the UA Top 10 for all-time games played later this season. To date, he has played in 199 games as a Wildcat and trails Kenny Corley’s 201 games played, which ranks No. 10 at Arizona.
Shutting ‘Em Out: The Arizona pitching staff has combined to throw three shutouts in the last nine games. The Wildcats shutout UMass in the series finale (9-0) and completed bookend shutouts of Michigan last weekend (2-0, 14-0). The 2008 club, which set a school record with 34.2 scoreless innings at one point, threw seven shutouts on the season.
Stacking Up the Pac: The Wildcats continue to be one of the top offensive teams in the Pac-10 Entering the week, UA is near the top of the league in almost every offensive category. Here’s a look at the numbers entering the weekend series:
Category Stat Rank
Batting Ave. .315 1
Slugging % .486 3
On Base % .392 3
Runs Scored 301 2
Hits 438 2
RBI 271 2|
Doubles 98 1
Triples 20 1
Homeruns 33 7
Mix and Match: Due to a handful of nagging injuries, head coach Andy Lopez has been forced to shuffle his lineup on nearly a daily basis. In fact, no player has started all 36 games this season. In all, 15 different position players have started a game and all 15 have made at least seven starts. Additionally, UA has used 36 different lineups (out of 39 possible), using the same lineup multiple times on three occasions. On the mound, Arizona has used 12 different pitchers, with 11 making at least three appearances.
Swipin’ Bags: The Wildcats were second in the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 91 in 2008, and this 2009 version may be in line to challenge that mark. Through 39 games, Arizona has stolen 58 bases, which ranks second in the Pac-10 and trails only Arizona State (66). Bryce Ortega (13-for-15) and Hunter Pace (both 11-for-15) lead Arizona in the category, but 13 different players have stolen at least one base.
Hitting in the Clutch: While the season is young, the Wildcats have proven clutch at the plate with runners in scoring position. Arizona is hitting .332 on the season with runners in scoring position, .342 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and is scoring runs at a .645 clip with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 78 runs in 121 chances. On the season, the Cats have driven in 117 runners with two outs in an inning.
Young, But Talented: A total of 12 players with no prior Arizona experience have already played key roles for the Wildcats this season either as starters or key reserves. Offensively, Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy have found every day roles in the lineup, while newcomers are in the regular pitching rotation. That does not include Matt Chaffee or Joe Allison, each who are in their second year in the program but making their most significant contributions. Ryan Doyle also made his season debut against Oklahoma State, marking his second career appearance.
Flying Under the Radar: Since Andy Lopez took over the Arizona baseball program the Wildcats have made a return to the national scene. After disappearing nationally nearly all together from 1994-2001, Arizona has made five postseason appearances (2003-05, 2007-08) in the last six seasons, has played for four regional championships (2004-05, 2007-08) – winning two of them (2004 and 2008), won a super regional title (2004), and made its 15th trip to Omaha (2004). Impressive feats on that very basic level, but when you factor in that UA still hasn’t hosted a postseason game at home since 1992, the simple fact that Lopez and Wildcats have been able to achieve so much on the road makes it just that more impressive.
Light Up the Scoreboard: In UA’s first Pac-10 win last month at UCLA, the 19 runs scored by the Wildcats were their most in some time. In fact, UA last scored 19 runs back on March 13, 2007 at Hawaii-Hilo in a 19-3 victory. Arizona had not tallied that many runs in a Pac-10 game since a 27-4 rout against Washington State on May 13, 2006. For Pac-10 road games, it was the largest offensive output since a 20-9 victory in Los Angeles on May 8, 2004.
Head Coach Andy Lopez: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez enters his eighth season as the Wildcats’ skipper with a 271-1789-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 958-597-7. Last season, Lopez notched his 900th career victory against Sacramento State and guided the Wildcats to consecutive 40+ win seasons -- a feat the UA program had not accomplished since 1985-86.
24 No More: With the addition of Oregon to mix of Pacific-10 baseball, the Conference season has been extended to a 27-game schedule from its previous 24-game slate. All league teams will play each other three times during the season. Like football, the home-away split will be unbalanced with nine opponents, meaning half the league will have five conference home series, while the other half will only play four at home.
Early Recognition: Several Wildcats have received some notable pre-season media attention and are on watch lists for some of the nation’s top honors. Here is the list:
Jason Stoffel (’09 Junior) – Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American; BaseballInsider.com Pre-Season Second Team All-American; Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American (Third Team), Preseason NCBWA All-American (Third Team), 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List; Rivals.com Pre-Season All-Conference
Preston Guilmet (’09 Senior) – Rivals.com Preseason Top 10 Returning Senior, 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
Bryce Ortega (’09 Sophomore) - 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
On Deck: The Wildcats will continue a brief homestand with a three game Pac-10 series against California. The series will begin on Friday at 7 p.m. at Jerry Kindall Field.