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Baseball Travels to No. 4 ASU
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/18/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 18, 2009

Arizona (11-7) at No. 4 Arizona State (14-3)
Tempe, Ariz. -- Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark

Friday, March 20 - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 21 - 6:30 p.m. (1290 A.M.)
Sunday, March 15 - 11 a.m.

Arizona Projected Starters
Friday: RHP Preston Guilmet (2-1, 3.68 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Matt Veltmann (1-2, 8.53 ERA)
Sunday: LHP Bryce Bandilla (2-1, 4.98 ERA)

Some Series Themes: One of the top collegiate rivalries continues with the first of five meetings on the season ... This weekend's three game series in Tempe marks the annual Pacific-10 Conference series, while a pair of separate games later in the season in Tucson will not count in the league standings ... Both teams enter this weekend's series coming of a 3-2 week ... UA dropped a mid-week series to Oklahoma State and swept a home series against Michigan, while ASU split a mid-week series against Kansas State before taking 2-of-3 from Kansas over the weekend ... Both teams have enjoyed early season schedules loaded with home games, as the Wildcats opened with 16 of 18 at home, while ASU has played every game near its home town (five games considered neutral in Surprise, Ariz.) ... The two teams are among the league's top performers record-wise in non-conference action, checking in as two of the four teams to enter the weekend with a better than .500 record ... Both are in the upper half of the conference in nearly every offensive statistical category, including top three in batting average, slugging, on base percentage, runs scored, hits and RBI.

Michigan Series Recap: The Wildcats completed their first weekend sweep of the season, sending the Wolverines home with an 0-3 record in Tucson that included bookend shutouts to the series ... Preston Guilmet turned in a second consecutive quality start last Friday to earn his second win of the season, and teamed up with Jason Stoffel for a 2-0 shutout ... Bryce Bandilla made his second start of the season on Sunday, lasting into the sixth inning and earning his first win as a starter in UA's 14-0 blanking of UM ... Stoffel closed out a UA comeback on Saturday to earn his fifth save of the season as he struck out all five batters he faced ... UA hit .369 as a team in the series and scored 25 runs over the three games ... Dillon Baird led the offensive charge by going 6-for-9 at the plate with six runs scored and five RBI ... The UA defense turned seven double plays, including a season-high three on Sunday.

Arizona vs. ASU -- The All-Time Series: The Wildcats and Sun Devils have met 422 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. Arizona leads the all-time series 231-190-1.

Arizona vs. ASU - 2008 Flashback: Arizona hosted No. 2 Arizona State to close out the regular season and took 2-of-3 from the visitors ... In Game 1, Arizona State rapped out 21 hits en route to its second consecutive Pac-10 title, defeating UA 13-6. C.J. Ziegler hit his team-leading 19th homer of the year to move into fifth all-time at UA for a single season ... In Game 2, Rafael Valenzuela drove home the winning run with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning as UA prevailed 4-3. Arizona's bullpen held ASU's potent offense to just three hits over five scoreless innings ... In Game 3, Arizona wrapped up the regular season with a 25-5 mark at Kindall Field with a three-run victory, 7-4, over the Sun Devils. The Cats held ASU scoreless until an Ike Davis grand slam in the ninth.

A Quick Glance at the Sun Devils: Arizona State tops the Pac-10 with a 14-3 record and, like Arizona, is coming off a 3-2 week ... One of the top hitting team's in the nation in recent year's, the Sun Devils boast one of the top pitching staffs early in the 2009 season ... ASU's staff has combined to post a 1.95 team ERA, allowing only 48 runs on the season ... Opponents are hitting only .199 on the season and have struck out 172 times ... Mike Leake leads the way with a 4-1 record, 1.45 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 31 innings of work ... Offensively, ASU hits .308 as a team and has no shortage of power ... The Sun Devils have hit a Pac-10 leading 24 home runs, led by Carlos Ramirez's eight ... ASU has outscored opponents 147-48 on the season.

Pac-10 Opener: This weekend's game will mark the beginning of Pacific-10 Conference action for both teams.  Arizona has put together a 42-45-1 record on the opening weekend of conference play since joining the Pac-10 in the 1979 season ... The Wildcats will open the Pac-10 slate on the road for the third time in four years ... UA dropped its opening series last year at USC, losing 2-of-3 ... UA last opened conference action against ASU in 2002, dropping 2-of-3 games in Tucson as Andy Lopez coached his first Pac-10 games.

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.

Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Junior Jason Stoffel was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17 following his dominating work out of the bullpen a week earlier against Oklahoma State and Michigan. Against the Wolverines, Stoffel earned a pair of saves, including a three-inning appearance in the Friday game to help UA to a 2-0 victory, and a five-up, five-down via strikeout affair in the Saturday game to give the Cats a 9-7 win. The right hander pitched 6.1 innings in three appearances on the week, allowing no runs on only hit. He struck out 10 batters and walked none. The weekly honor was the first of his career and the 40th all-time for a UA pitcher.

Hammer Time: 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 stands alone with 23 career saves. On the season, Stoffel has pitched in 20.2 innings and allowed only three runs (1.31 ERA), while striking out 31 batters and issuing only four walks. He is 23-for-24 in career save opportunities and was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17, 2009.

Glad to Have Them Back: The Wildcats certainly were happy to see Dillon Baird and Matt Presley back in the lineup against Michigan on Saturday and Sunday after the duo missed the previous three games. Baird led UA in the series with a 6-for-9 performance at the plate, hitting a pair of doubles, a triple and a homerun. The junior first baseman drove in a team-high five runs in the series and scored a team-high six. Presley wasn't too shabby either, going 4-for-8 at the plate with a run and an RBI.

Jett Fuel: Freshman 3B/DH Jett Bandy has wasted no time helping fuel the Wildcat offense. Through 18 games, Bandy has made 16 starts and leads UA in RBI (17), doubles (9) and extra base hits (10). He is batting .277 entering the weekend with a .462 slugging percentage.

Turning Two: Arizona is turning double plays at a record base entering this weekend's series. Through 18 games, UA has already induced 33 double plays. A season ago, the Wildcats turned only 47 on the entire season. This season's tally of 33 (1.8 per game) projects to an even 100 on the season, which would shatter 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. The current season mark leads the Pacific-10, well ahead of Cal's second-place total of 18.

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 13 of UA's first 18 games ... Burns, who has yet to earn a decision on the season, has pitched 16.2 innings and struck out 22 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 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 67 career games, which ranks tied for No. 7 all-time at UA. One appearance this weekend will break his tie at No. 7 with Ed Vosberg and Sean Rierson (Top-10 can be found on page 61 of UA media guide).

Shutting `Em Out: The Arizona pitching staff has combined to throw three shutouts in the last six 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.

Setting the Pace: One of the pleasant surprises early in 2009 has been the steady play of senior Hunter Pace. The veteran outfielder, who was relegated to a reserve role primarily as a pinch runner early in his career, has started 10 games to date in center field. Pace is tied with Dillon Baird for the top hitting mark on the club with a .405 batting average, and has hit three doubles and a pair of triples. The speedster has stolen 8-of-9 bases and scored 13 runs. Defensively, Pace has played flawless in the field, committing zero errors and recording one assist.

Settling In: Arizona hopes it can settle into the season now that a furious opening stretch of games is complete. The Wildcats opened with 18 games in 24 days, but now will play only three-game weekend series through mid-April. UA hopes that will allow the pitching staff to settle into form after a taxing first month that was combined with youth, inexperience and no time for rest. Now instead of trotting out three to four starters a week who had no college experience prior to this season, UA's pitchers should be able to settle into more specific roles. Preston Guilmet, Matt Veltmann and Bryce Bandilla are the slated starters for this weekend. Kyle Simon and Donn Roach figure to be the middle to long relief guys that get the ball the Cory Burns and Jason Stoffel to close the games out.

Closer to Home: A handful of Wildcats will be a bit closer to home this weekend in Tempe. In fact, five players call the Phoenix area or the surrounding communities home, including Cory Burns, Matt Chaffee, Daniel Butler, Kyle Stiner and Daniel Butler.

Stacking Up the Pac: Although conference action will not begin until next week, it's never too early to see where the Wildcats stack up against other Pac-10 teams. Entering the weekend, UA is near the top of the league in almost every offensive category. Here's a look at the numbers:

Category          Stat                  Rank
Batting Ave.       .320                  2
Slugging %        .501                  3
On Base %       .392                  3
Runs Scored     155                   1
Hits                  209                   1
RBI                   135                   2
Doubles            52                     1
Triples               12                     2
Homeruns         14                     5

Taking Form: After a couple of un-Preston-like performance to open 2009, senior RHP Preston Guilmet has begun to take to his old form that has made him one of the top pitchers in Arizona history. In his last two starts, Guilmet has lasted into the seventh innings and earnec a pair of wins to push his season record to 2-1. His ERA has lowered to 3.68 and he has struck out 23 batters in 22 innings on the season. Guilmet currently ranks No. 3 in UA history with 349 strikeouts and needs 73 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 347.1 innings in his three seasons at UA, and has a chance to become UA's all-time leader in the category (Ed Vosberg, 405.1). He stands at No. 6 in program history in fewest walks per nine innings at 2.46. Additionally, his 23 career wins are five shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA. Here's a look at Guilmet's career numbers:

      ERA         W-L         App.        GS           CG           IP             H              R              ER            BB           SO
     3.47         23-14       57            51            6              347.1       346          163          134          99            349       

They Can Hit, Too: Most know that Arizona junior catchers Dwight Childs and Daniel Butler are among the top defensive players at their positions, but the duo has also shown much improved numbers at the plate. Childs, who hit below .200 a season ago, currently stands at .333 and has a pair of triples to go with a double and a home run on the season. His classmate, Butler, is hitting .340 and has driven in 14 runs on the season, which ties for third most on the club. Butler also has smacked three home runs, which ties for the team lead. Overall, the duo has combined for a .364 average, to go with 16 runs scored, 17 RBI, four home runs, three doubles and two triples at the catcher position.

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 18 games this season. In all, 14 different position players have started a game and all 14 have made at least five starts. Additionally, UA has not used the same batting order more than once on the entire season. 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 18 games, Arizona has stolen a conference-leading 37 bases and been caught only six times (84 percent). Bryce Ortega (9-for-9) and Hunter Pace (both 8-for-9) lead Arizona in the category, but 11 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 .347 on the season with runners in scoring position and .642 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 43 runs in 67 chances. On the season, the Cats have driven in 57 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.

Head Coach Andy Lopez: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez enters his eighth season as the Wildcats' skipper with a 259-165-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 948-583-7. 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.

Pitching Has Been Pretty Special: Under head coach Andy Lopez, the Wildcat pitching staff has re-written the record books. Here's a look at some of the notable tidbits:

- Two Pitchers Selected in the First Round of the MLB Draft in 2008
- Four 10-Game Winners Since 2004      
- Nine Different Pitchers Selected in the First 10 Rounds of the MLB Draft Since 2003
- Top Three Strikeout Staffs in School History in Three of the Last Four Years
 - Broke School Record For Lowest Opponent Batting Average in 2007 and 2008
- Four times under Lopez UA has recorded the second-most saves in a season
- Preston Guilmet One of Four UA Pitchers With 300+ Strikeouts
- Top 5 Nationally in Strikeouts Per Nine Innings Last Two Seasons

More Pitching Props: Here's a look at some more pitching marks set by the 2007 and 2008 pitching staffs:

2008 - Set School Record with 572 Strikeouts
2008 - School Record Seven Shutouts Most Since 1976
2008 - Three Pitchers Named All-Pac-10
2007 - Lowest Team ERA in 30 Years (3.90)
2007 - Fewest Home Runs Allowed in 34 Years (20)
2007 - Fewest Hits (516) Allowed in 30 Years
|
2007 - Fewest Runs (273) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 - Fewest Earned Runs (228) Allowed in 30 Years
2007 - Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet
2007 - 386 out of 527 Innings Pitched Were Shutout Innings (73%)

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:

Pre-Season Honors
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 Pac-10 play on the road with a trip to UCLA. The three game series is set to begin on Friday, March 27 in Los Angeles.

 

 

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