The Wildcats won their 14th straight season opening weekend series when they took two of three from Georgia in Athens ... The Cats improved to 35-8 on opening weekend dating back to 1995 and 18-3 in the seven years under head coach Andy Lopez ... As a team Arizona batted .286 with three doubles and five home runs in the three games with the Bulldogs ... Nine of the 10 players that started at least one game in the series collected at least one hit and 10 different players scored at least one run against the Bulldogs ... The Wildcats also went 8 for 10 in stolen base tries ... Junior Jon Gaston led the way individually, hitting .417 with a double, two runs scored and three RBI ... C.J. Ziegler hit a pair of home runs in the series and Dillon Baird, Diallo Fon and T.J. Steele each hit one for the Wildcats ... Ziegler, Gaston, Baird and Robert Abel each had at least one hit in all three games ... On the mound the Wildcat arms posted a 4.15 team ERA in 26 innings of work ... The pitching staff recorded 25 punchouts against 15 walks ... David Coulon turned in a fine effort in his first start, striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings of work to pick up his first win of the season ... Mike Colla picked up his initial victory of the year with 2 2/3 innings of work in the Sunday victory ... Closer Jason Stoffel tallied a pair saves in two appearances and finished the weekend with three Ks in three innings of work ... Georgia officials indicated that the Saturday contest between UA and UGA was the largest attended non-conference game at Foley Field. Estimates put the number of fans turned away at the gate between 400 and 500 people.
The Wildcats gained a top ranking from one publication and lost one from another. Arizona was named the No. 1 in the nation in the weekly Baseball America?poll, the first time the Wildcats have ascended to that publicationˇ?s top spot since 1989, but dropped one spot in the Collegiate Baseball poll to No. 2 this week. The Cats also dropped one spot in the NCBWA poll, from No. 5 to No. 6, but gained a spot in the Rivals.com poll, from No. 8 to No. 7.
900 is Next
Arizonaˇ?s next win on the diamond will mark the 900th career victory for UA head coach Andy Lopez. Now in his 26th season as the skipper of a collegiate program, Lopez currently stands with an 899-559-7 mark at four different schools (Cal State Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine, Florida and Arizona).
Odds and Ends
Colt Sedbrook pushed his lead in the all-time hit by pitch record book up another notch after getting plunked in Saturdayˇ?s contest at Georgia. He has now been hit by 43 pitches in 105 games played, the most in school history ... Dillon Bairdˇ?s home run on Saturday at UGA was the first in his UA career ... The Wildcats, who finished the 2007 season with 211 extra base hits, collected just eight multi-base knocks against in the season opening series this year ... However the five team homers in the three games at UGA were most since the 2005 club knocked out five in its first three games and all three of senior C.J. Zieglerˇ?s hits went for extra bases (2B, 2 HR) ...
On the Air
Brian Jeffries, the Voice of the Wildcats, and 1290 AM will open their UA baseball broadcast season this Friday against Sacramento State. Jeffries and 1290 plan to air up to 31 UA baseball games depending upon conflicts with menˇ?s basketball. Check Page 4 of the notes for the radio schedule this season.
For just the fourth time since 1950 Arizona will open its home schedule with games having already been played (2008, 2001, 1997, 1974) ... Last season the Wildcats went an impressive 28-4 (.875) at Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium to post their highest home winning percentage since 1976. Arizona won 10 of the 11 multiple-game series played at home last season.
A Quick Look at Sac State
The Hornets head to Tucson with a 1-1 overall record after splitting a rain-abridged season-opening series at Loyola Marymount ... Sac State returns 16 letterwinners from last seasonˇ?s team that went 17-40 overall and 10-14 in the WAC ... The Hornets batted .348 as a team against LMU and hit seven doubles, a triple and two home runs ... Seniors Taylor Watanabe and Ryan Blair led the early individual charge at the plate, batting .571 with three runs scored and .556 with a homer and four RBI, respectively, in the two games ... On the mound Sac State posted a 6.00 team ERA with 15 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched ... Right-hander Alvaro Orosco picked up the win in relief on Saturday ... Head coach John Smith is in 31st season as the Hornets skipper and has post an 811-820-1 record at Sac State.
Arizona ?vs. Sac State ˇ? The All-Time Series
The Wildcats and Hornets have met eight times in the baseball diamond dating back to 1994 and have split the series 4-4 ... The two last met up for a single game in 2005 with Sac State upsetting the No. 6-ranked Wildcats 7-4 in Sacramento.
ˇ®Fonˇ?d of Scoring
Sophomore Diallo Fon wrapped up the three-game series against Georgia with just one official at bat. However, the second-year Wildcat finished the weekend with three runs scored. He drove himself him on a three-run homer in the finale on Sunday and scored two other times as a pinch runner to place him in a very early tie for the team lead. Last season Fon had three-game stretch where he scored all 10 time he safely reached base (March 13-21).
Well Done Weldon
Pinch hitter Mike Weldon came up big in a big situation when he broke UAˇ?s scoring drought in the series finale against Georgia last Sunday. The sophomore infielder snapped a six-inning scoreless streak with a two-run single in the seventh inning to cut UGAˇ?s lead in half at 4-2. The at-bat led to a come-from-behind win for the Wildcats to take the series and also capped off an impressive weekend for the Arizona reserves. UA pinch hitters went 2 for 4 with a walk against the Bulldogs and the pinch runners chipped in with a pair of runs scored. For the weekend the non-starters that entered the lineup went 3 for 6 with five RBI and four runs scored in place of the original starter.
Sophomore closer Jason Stoffel has been pretty close to automatic in shutting down games. In 27 all-time relief outings the right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA, seven saves and 54 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings pitched. Last season he allowed just one earned run in 12 Pac-10 appearances and he has already successfully converted his first two save opportunities this season.
Welcome Back Berger
Left-hander Eric Berger made his first appearance on the mound for the Wildcats since March 17, 2006, in last Saturdayˇ?s 7-1 win over Georgia. The southpaw struck out three in 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. Berger missed half of the 2006 campaign and the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. He was forced to leave the contest against UGA after getting struck on the pitching hand on a single, but is slated to be one of the top arms out of the bullpen this weekend against Sac State before making his first start of the season next week against UNLV.
Quick Fast and in a Hurry
Starting Friday and running through March 9, Arizona will get to see plenty of action as it will play eight games in 10 days. The Cats will open the stretch with a three game set against Sac State to open the home slate this weekend, then will host UNLV for a pair of midweek games March 4-5 before heading to Corpus Christi, Texas, March 7-9 for the Whataburger Classic against South Alabama, Notre Dame and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. After the initial flurry of games, UA will close out the month of March with nine games in 13 days before embarking on a schedule that features 20 games in 30 days in the month of April.
Coaches Pick Cats
The Wildcats have been named the team to beat in the Pacific-10 Conference this season. In a vote by the leagueˇ?s coaches, Arizona was named to the top spot, garnering 61 total points. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team and the point totals go eight for a first place vote, seven for second and so on. It is the first time Arizona has been named the preseason favorite since the Pac-10 North and South merged prior to the 1999 season.
Preseason Pac-10 Poll (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1 Arizona (6) 61
2 Arizona State (3) 56
3 UCLA 51
4 Oregon State 44
5 Cal 32
6 Stanford 30
7 USC 23
8 Washington State 18
9 Washington 9
Junior Preston Guilmet, the 2007 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, has been rewarded for his outstanding sophomore season in 2007. The third-year Wildcat has been tabbed a first-team preseason All-American by NCBWA, Collegiate Baseball?and Rivals.com. He has also garnered third-team preseason honors from Baseball America, joining classmate T.J. Steele. Prompted by an outstanding showing in the Cape Cod summer league, BA has named Ryan Perry as first-team preseason AA selection. Senior C.J. Ziegler was feted with first-team honors by NCBWA and joined LHP Daniel Schlereth on the third-team by Collegiate Baseball.
Junior right-hander Preston Guilmet has been named to the initial ˇ?watch listˇ± for the 2008 Golden Spikes Award ... He is also on the CSTV.comˇ?s Player of the Year Watch List ... Guilmet and outfield classmate Jon Gaston have each been listed on the preseason Brooks Wallace Award Watch List ... Arizonaˇ?s closing tandem of LHP Daniel Schlereth and RHP Jason Stoffel has each be named to the NCBWAˇ?s preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List. Schlereth, a junior, needs just four more saves to move past former teammate Mark Melancon for the career saves lead and Stoffel looks to build off an impressive freshman season that saw him allow just one earned run in 12 Pac-10 appearances last year and strike out 11 of the 15 hitters he faced in the NCAA Regional in Wichita, Kan., last year.
Thatˇ?s Offensive: ?The Wildcats return nine position players that saw action in 30 or more games, including seven that started at least 48 games ... Led by senior C.J. Ziegler (.355, 23 2B, 13 HR, 63 RBI), Arizona returns 84 percent of its runs, 82 percent of its hits, 84 percent of its doubles, 76 percent of its triples, 75 percent of its home runs, 78 percent of its RBI and 92 percent of its stolen bases from last season ... The Wildcats finished at or near the top of the Pacific-10 Conference in a number of team offensive categories last season, including batting average (.306, 2nd), slugging percentage (.478, 2nd), on base percentage (.391, 2nd), runs (428, 3rd), hits (619, 3rd), RBI (389, 3rd), doubles (126, 3rd), triples (33, 1st), home runs (52, 3rd) and stolen bases (95, 1st).
On the Bump
The Wildcats return seven arms that logged significant innings for one of the best UA pitching staffs in the last 30 years, including the top four ERA leaders and four of the top five strikeout artists. Highlighted by 2007 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet (12-2, 1.87 ERA, 146 Ks), last yearˇ?s Arizona staff finished the season with the lowest team ERA since 1976 (3.90), the fewest home runs allowed in 34 years (20) and the fewest hits (516), runs (273) and earned runs (228) allowed in 30 years. The collective group posted the second-most strikeouts in school history and finished in a tie for second for the most saves in a single season ... Much like the offense, the pitchers finished among the Pac-10ˇ?s best statistically last seasons, including second in ERA, second in opponent batting average (.257), first in strikeouts (541) and third in wins (42), as well as the fewest hits, earned runs and home runs allowed in the Pac-10.
The Wildcats received some good news at the start of the school year when five drafted UA players opted not to sign professional contracts and return to campus. Junior LHP Daniel Schlereth was picked in the eighth round by the Oakland Aˇ?s, junior LHP Eric Berger in the ninth by the Aˇ?s, senior 1B C.J. Ziegler in the 37th round by the St. Louis Cardinals, and classmates Colt Sedbrook (2B) and David Coulon (LHP) in the 42nd round by the Cubs and Rockies, respectively. Additionally, freshmen signees Bobby Coyle (19th, Cleveland), Matt Presley (24th, Boston) and Andrew Allen (43rd, Arizona) all enrolled in class rather than sign.
The Wildcats wrapped up their 2007 season with a 42-17 overall record and a 15-9 mark in the Pac-10. The 42 wins were the most for any Arizona team since 1989 and the league record was good enough for a second place finish. UA advanced to the regional championship game against Wichita State in Wichita, Kan., but fell to the Shockers, 3-0, in the title game. Departed senior Bill Rhinehart finished the season with the team triple crown, batting a team-high .372 with 13 HRs and 66 RBI. It marked just the third time school history a player had accomplished such a feat. Current junior Preston Guilmet paced a Wildcat pitching staff that posted very impressive numbers over the course of the season and Guilmet became UAˇ?s first Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year since Scott Erickson in 1989.