Arizona will meet up with Northern Colorado for the first time since 1975 ... Although its been a while, the Wildcats and Bears have a history on the baseball field. Northern Colorado stunned one of the best Wildcat teams in school history when it upset UA in the 1974 District 7 finals in the NCAA tournament two games to none. The 1974 UA team entered the NCAA postseason with a gaudy 58-4 overall record, but the two losses to the Bears in Greenly, Colo., kept the No. 1-ranked Wildcats from appearing in what would have been the ninth College World Series in school history ... Arizona is 29-3 all-time against Northern Colorado in a series that dates back to 1954 and swept the Bears 3-0 in the last meeting in 1975 ... Northern Colorado returns 19 letterwinners from the 2004 team that went 29-23 overall ... The Bears are the first of four NCAA Division I Independent teams that Arizona will take on this season.
Northern Colorado Snowed Out
Friday’s game between the Bears and the Wildcats will mark the season opener for Northern Colorado. Its doubleheader against Air Force, scheduled for Tuesday was snowed out. The delay to the season marks the second straight year the Bears have been delayed by the white stuff.
New Mexico Series Recap
The Wildcats swept their three game series against New Mexico in dominating fashion both on the mound and at the plate ... All three games were decided by nine runs (9-0, 14-5, 15-6) ... The three-game sweep extended Arizona’s winning streak over New Mexico to 22 consecutive games dating back to 1997 ... Friday - Juniors John Meloan and Sean Jarrett teamed up to toss a one-hit shut out against the Lobos. Meloan went 7 2/3 innings before giving up a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth. He finished with a career-high 12 Ks. Jarrett worked a perfect final 1 1/3 innings to cap off the game ... Offensively Arizona scored nine runs on 13 hits. Senior Jeff Van Houten paced the Wildcats at the plate in the season opener, finishing 3 for 3 with a RBI and two runs scored. Junior Trevor Crowe scored three of his series-best seven runs in the game ... Saturday - Kevin Guyette, Sean Rierson and Mark Melancon teamed up to strike out 18 UNM hitters in the 14-5 UA victory. Tied 4-4 after five and half innings, UA scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth before blowing the game open with seven runs in the seventh ... Offensively, Arizona rapped out 17 hits, including seven for extra bases. Junior Nick Hundley finished with a pair of home runs in the game, including a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth to give Arizona the lead for good. It was Hundley’s first career multi-homer game ... Sunday - The Wildcats capped off the series sweep with a 15-6 win on Sunday ... Bill Rhinehart, Jordan Brown and Jason Donald all went deep as part of a 19-hit barrage against the Lobo pitching staff ... Brown finished the game 4 for 5 with three RBI and three runs scored ... Donald led all players with four RBI in the contest ... On the mound, freshman Eric Berger picked up his first career victory with 2 2/3 innings of work out of the bullpen. The southpaw struck out four and walked one in his first UA appearance.
Pitchers Off To a Good Start
As noted above, the Wildcat pitching staff got off to a good start in the opening series of the season. All total, nine different hurlers teamed up to post a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings last weekend and limit New Mexico to a .173 team batting average in the series. Eight of the nine pitchers used against the Lobos recorded at least one strike out and six finished without issuing a walk ... John Meloan and Sean Jarrett teamed up to toss the first one-hitter for UA since 1980, while Kevin Guyette, Sean Rierson and Mark Melancon combined to strike out 18 Lobo hitters, two shy of the UA school record, in Saturday’s 14-5 win ... UA’s bullpen did not give up an earned run in 10 innings of work and surrendered just one walk.
Ahead of the Curve
Including the 18 strike out performance last Saturday, the Wildcats pitching staff whiffed 42 New Mexico hitters in the first three games of the season (14 per game). It took last year’s staff a full five games into the season to match that total.
Offense Not To Be Out-Done
Somewhat overshadowed by the successful pitching last weekend, the Arizona offense more then held its own against New Mexico ... Collectively, UA hit .419 (49 for 117) with 13 doubles, a triple and five home runs in the series ... 12 of the 13 Arizona players that had at least one AB in the series collected a hit ... 10 different players scored at least one run in the series ... Arizona averaged 16 hits and almost 13 runs per game, while recording a .500 on-base percentage and a .675 team slugging percentage ... Individually, senior Jeff Van Houten led the Wildcats with a .667 average in the series (8 for 12). He finished with five RBI and five runs scored ... Junior Trevor Crowe extended his successful stolen base streak to 28 straight with a pair of steals against the Lobos. Four of Crowe's five hits in the series went for doubles ... Sophomore Bill Rhinehart tallied the most successful series in his career, hitting .615 (8 for 13) with a home run, a double, three RBI and four runs scored ... Classmate Jason Donald went 6 for 13 (.462) with a double, a triple and a home run in the series. He ended the weekend with six RBI and four runs scored ... Paced by a two-homer game on Saturday, junior Nick Hundley slugged a very impressive 1.083 in the series.
Taking a Poll
After opening the season a consensus No. 12 in the polls, the Wildcats moved up at least one spot in all three of rankings after the opening weekend sweep of New Mexico. UA jumped up two spots, to No. 10, in the Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll and one spot, to No. 11, in both the Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America polls. The complete polls can be found on page 5 of the release.
No So Petty Theft
Arizona has led the Pac-10 in stolen bases each of the last two seasons, and if the start to 2005 is any indication, it will compete for the top spot again. The Wildcats were a perfect 7 for 7 in stolen bases on opening weekend against New Mexico.
Meloan Named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week
Junior right-hander John Meloan was named the co-national player of the week by Collegiate Baseball for his 7 2/3 innings, one-hit effort against New Mexico on Feb. 4. The honor is the first in Meloan’s career and the first for an Arizona player since teammate Sean Rierson garnered the award on Feb. 18, 2003. Meloan is the eighth UA player to be recognized by the publication as its player of the week since 1994.
Friday starter John Meloan is 15-1 all-time at UA and has won 11 straight games in which he has factored in the decision. His only career loss at UA came on May 4, 2003 against Cal in his freshman year. Since then he has appeared in 22 games, made 12 starts and gone 11-0. Used primarily as a reliever early in his career at UA, he has flourished as a starter with an 11-0 record, a 3.51 ERA and 87 strikeouts when taking the ball from the get go.
Meloan’s Overall Career Numbers
39 GP, 15-1, 4.26 ERA, 143.2 IP, 135 H, 84 R, 68 ER, 76 BB, 129 K
Meloan’s Career Starting Numbers
14 GS, 11-0, 3.51 ERA, 100.0 IP, 76 H, 45 R, 39 ER, 45 BB, 87 K
BB - Brad Boyer or Base on Balls?
Junior infielder Brad Boyer made an impact against New Mexico despite recording just two hits in the series. Aided by a team-high five walks, the third-year starter scored six runs, second-best for Arizona on the weekend, drove in two more, stole a base and finished with a .471 on-base percentage.
The Streaks Carry On
Junior Trevor Crowe extended both of his carry over streaks from the 2004 season on opening weekend. The speedy outfielder went 2 for 2 in stolen bases against New Mexico to extend his success to 28 straight attempts. He also collected at least one hit in all three games to push his hitting streak to 11 consecutive games ... Senior Jeff Van Houten is nipping at Crowe heals for the longest active hitting streak. The 2003 Pac-10 batting champion has hit in 10 straight games dating back to 2004 ... Sophomore Jason Donald has the longest current string of consecutive games played at 67 straight. Donald started all 64 games his freshman season in 2004 and three this season.
Return Right On
Senior Sean Rierson made a splash in his return from Tommy John surgery last weekend. The right-hander struck out six of the seven hitters he faced over 2 1/3 innings, including three looking, and needed just under six pitches per hitter to do so. The effort earned him his 24th career win, but just his first since the 2003 season.
Senior Assault On The Record Book
Two of Arizona’s three seniors on the roster this season have a chance to leave a lasting impression in the all-time record book. Outfielder Jeff Van Houten is edging his way into the hitting records and right-hander Sean Rierson is already among the all-time leaders in the pitching records.
Jeff Van Houten
Record Van Houten’s Numbers Rank All-Time Leader
Games Played 163 NR Chip Hale - 255
At Bats 590 NR Chip Hale - 978
Hits 209 NR Chip Hale - 337
Multi Hit Games 60 NR Robbie Moen - 102
Doubles 31 NR Dave Stegman - 72
Triples 18 t-9th Charles Shoemaker - 30
Home Runs 21 t-22nd Shelley Duncan - 55
RBI 151 20th Ron Hassey - 235
HBP 17 t-8th Kenny Corley - 32
Walks 92 NR Chip Hale - 162
Sac Flies 15 t-4th Chip Hale - 21
Extra Base Hits 70 NR Dave Stegman - 110
Total Bases 339 NR Chip Hale - 507
Record Rierson’s Numbers Rank All-Time Leader
Games Pitched 54 t-15th Ron Sismondo - 88
Starts 50 3rd Ed Vosberg - 60
Wins 24 13th Don Lee - 36
Innings 323.1 7th Ed Vosberg - 405.1
Strike Outs 219 19th Carl Thomas - 422
BB/9 IP 1.85 2nd Tad Heydenfeldt - 1.77
Junior teammates Trevor Crowe and John Meloan were feted with preseason All-America recognition by three different sources. Both the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Baseball America named Crowe, who finished with a team-high .350 batting and led the Pac-10 in stolen bases in 2004, second-team All-America. Meloan, who finished the 2004 season a perfect 10-0 on the mound, garnered third-team preseason All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
The Non-Conference Slate
According to plan, the Wildcats will face a challenging non-conference slate in 2005. UA will take on not only defending national champions Cal State Fullerton, but the CWS runner up Texas as well. Mississippi State, a Collegiate Baseball top 25 team and 2004 regional participant, will also pay a visit to Tucson in early March, as well as UNLV, Northern Colorado and UC Riverside.
No Place Like Home
A season removed from playing the fewest number of home games since 1973 (27 home games in 2004), Arizona will play 19 of its first 22 games of the season in Tucson, and will host a more-typical total of 34 regular season games at Kindall Field in 2005. Since moving to its current location on the corners of Enke and National Championship Drives in 1967, Arizona has posted 34 winning seasons at Kindall Field, including the last nine straight.
A Good Omen?
The last two times Arizona advanced to the College World series and failed to come home with the national championship in tow (1979, 1985), the Wildcats returned to Omaha the following season and brought back the hardware. The 1979 Arizona CWS team went 1-2 in Omaha and the ?'85 squad went 0-2.
Cats Picked Third By Conference Coaches
In what was one of the closest preseason races in Pac-10 history, the Wildcats were selected to finish in a tie for third in the preseason coaches rankings. Defending conference champion Stanford will begin the 2005 season as the team to beat, followed by Washington in second and Arizona and Arizona State in a tie for third. The Cardinal garnered four first-place votes and 58 total, Washington picked up two first-place votes and 52 final votes, while the Wildcats and the Sun Devils each finished with 51 total points. ASU was named the first-place team by two coaches and UA picked up one first-place vote. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Preseason Pac-10 Coaches Poll
1. Stanford 58 (4)
2. Washington 52 (2)
3. Arizona 51 (1)
Arizona State 51 (2)
5. USC 36
6. Oregon State 25
7. California 23
8. UCLA 20
9. Washington State 8
Pinstripes To Make Their Return
The last time the Arizona baseball team took the field in pinstripes was 1947, 58 years ago. That will all change this season as the Wildcats will don white uniforms with thin blue pinnies in selected games in 2005. In addition, the Cats will also top off their new uniforms with white caps that will feature the “Academic A” and a solid blue bill. Arizona will also be able to mix and match red, white, blue and gray tops to go along with the white home pants and road grays.
A Couple of Schedule Changes
Since the schedule was released early last fall, it has under gone a couple of minor alterations. The previously scheduled game with New Mexico in Albuquerque on May 17 has been moved to April 19 due to a facility issue in New Mexico. Also, Arizona will face both UC Irvine and Sacramento State in Sacramento April 22-24. Please consult www.arizonaathletics.com and the baseball schedule page for the most current and up-to-date schedule.
Head Coach Andy Lopez
Entering his fourth season as the skipper at UA, Lopez has reenergized the Wildcat program. The fastest coach in school history to lead a team to College World Series, he has posted a 105-74-1 record (current) in his first three seasons. Last year’s postseason run extinguished a streak of 18 years with out a UA appearance at the CWS and made him one of just three coaches in NCAA Division I history to lead three different schools to Omaha. In addition to his role as head coach, Lopez also serves as the pitching coach for the Wildcats.
It Rhymes With River
Volunteer assistant coach Andy Diver has joined the Wildcat coaching staff in 2005. Diver joins the coaching staff in Tucson after spending the previous two years as the head coach at L.A. Harbor Community College. He will assist Lopez with pitching staff, as well as help coordinate the Andy Lopez Baseball Academy summer camps.