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Baseball Hits Road to Face UNLV
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/23/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 23, 2009

Arizona (2-1) at UNLV (3-1)

Las Vegas, Nev.

Earl E. Wilson Baseball Stadium at Roger Barnson Field 

Tuesday, February 24 – 7 p.m.
Wednesday, February 25 – Noon

Possible Lineup
1. Rafael Valenzuela      2B
2. Bryce Ortega            SS
3. Bobby Coyle              LF
4. Brad Glenn                DH
5. Dillon Baird                1B
6. Steve Selsky             RF
7. Daniel Butler               C
8. Jett Bandy                 3B
9. Hunter Pace              CF

Projected Starters
Tuesday: Kyle Simon (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 2.2 IP)
Wednesday: Donn Roach (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 7 K)

Sac State Series Recap: The Arizona Wildcats opened the 2009 series by taking two out of three games from Sacramento State in Tucson … Arizona won the season opener for both teams last Friday, 5-3, as closer Jason Stoffel earned his 19th career save to surpass Mark Melancon as the program’s all time leader in the category … The Hornets benefitted from eight Wildcat errors in the second game on Saturday to pull out a 10-7 victory despite five ninth-inning runs by the Wildcats, including a grand slam by Dillon Baird … In the rubber match on Sunday afternoon, the Wildcats sent freshman Donn Roach to the mound and he was impressive, going six innings while allowing only two runs – both unearned – on three hits … As a team, the Wildcats hit .315 in the series, scoring 23 runs on 34 hits … The pitching staff allowed 15 runs in the three games, but only five were earned (1.67 ERA) due to 11 defensive errors for the Wildcats in the series … Roach, with seven strikeouts, led the UA pitching staff which combined for 30 strikeouts on the weekend against 10 walks allowed … Senior outfielder Hunter Pace (4-for-5) and junior catcher Daniel Butler (5-for-8) top the batting average charts … Along with Baird’s grand slam, Steve Selsky hit his first career home run for the two round-trippers on the weekend … In all, the Cats hit 13 extra base hits, including 10 doubles and a triple.

UNLV at a Glance: The Rebels opened their 2009 season by winning three of four games at home against Maine … UNLV took the first three games of the series by scores of 4-2, 9-5 and 4-3 … Maine rallied with two runs in the eighth and three in the top of the ninth to edge the Rebels 11-9 on Sunday in the final game of the series … As a team, UNLV hit .302 in the series with a .401 on-base percentage and .504 slugging percentage … Drew Beurlein belted two home runs and two doubles in the series and scored five runs while driving in five … The pitching staff turned in a solid weekend, posting a team ERA of 3.75 while striking out 28 hitters.

Arizona vs. UNLV — The All-Time Series: The Wildcats and Rebels have met 21 times on the diamond in a series that dates back to 1984. Arizona owns a slight 12-9 edge in the all-time series and claimed both games in a two-game mid-week series in Tucson last year (6-5, 16-6).

Closing Time: Arizona junior right hander Jason Stoffel became the program’s all-time leader in saves when he helped seal UA’s 5-3 season-opening victory over Sacramento State. Stoffel, with 19 career saves, surpassed Mark Melancon (18) and is one of the best in the business at closing games. He has made two appearances in 2009, recording three strikeouts and allowing one run on four hits. Last season, Stoffel set a school record with 13 saves on the year.

Welcome Home: Arizona pitcher Donn Roach, who earned a victory on Sunday in a six-inning effort, will return to Las Vegas this week. Roach attended Bishop Gorman High School prior to graduating and enrolling at Arizona.

Carry Over: The Wildcats would like to see success against UNLV in 2008 carry over into 2009. In the two wins a year ago, the Wildcats hit .353 as a team and scored 22 runs on 24 hits. The offense output was sparked by five doubles, four home runs and two triples in the series as UA slugged .662. Individually, Mike Weldon led the Wildcats with a .600 average (3-for-5), as he scored two runs and tallied five RBI. Bryce Ortega also enjoyed a couple excellent games hitting .571 (4-for-7) with a double and two walks. Diallo Fon (.500, 2 runs, 2B, 3B) and Dillon Baird (.333, 4 RBI, run) also turned in solid games.

Donn of a New ERA: After seeing six pitchers drafted in the 2008 MLB first year player draft – including two first-rounders – Arizona knew it would have to rely on a bevy of young arms in 2009. In the first three games of the season, UA called on five pitchers to make their Arizona debut, including freshmen Donn Roach, Cody Lewis, Kyle Simon, Bryce Bandilla and junior college transfer Matt Veltmann. The best of the bunch this past weekend was undoubtedly Roach, who tossed six innings on Sunday, striking out seven and allowing only two runs (both unearned) on three hits to earn his first victory of the season. Roach was one of several pitchers to post a 0.00 ERA in the series, and UA recorded a 1.67 team ERA in the series. The UA pitching staff struck-out 30 hitters on the weekend and it hopes the weekend was just the dawn of a new era for Wildcat pitching.

Impressive Debut: Steve Selsky didn’t let any opening-weekend jitters get to him in his collegiate debut against UNLV. The freshman right fielder was one of the most solid performers on the weekend for the Wildcats, both offensively and defensively. On the weekend, Selsky went 4-for-10 at the plate, walked once and scored three runs to go with three RBI. He slugged .800 on the weekend, hitting a double and his first career homerun – a solo shot. He also layed down a sacrifice bunt that led to a UA run and showed an good arm in the outfield, throwing out a runner trying to advance to third on Saturday.

Steady Behind the Plate: Arizona has the luxury of playing two excellent defensive players behind the plate. Juniors Dwight Childs and Daniel Butler both will help mentor a young Wildcat pitching staff as they bring a wealth of experience to the field. Childs (40) and Butler (19) split the starting duties a year ago and will continue to do so this season to keep each other fresh. Already in 2009, both have proved valuable behind the plate as they have been on the receiving end of 30 strikeouts from the UA pitching staff. Butler turned in a solid weekend offensively, hitting .625 (5-for-8) while scoring three runs and driving in one.

On a Good Pace: Senior Hunter Pace is living up to his name through three games – pacing the Wildcats with a .800 average (4-for-5). While not likely to keep up that torrid clip, Pace was inserted late in Saturday’s game and came through with a base hit, then went 3-for-4 at the plate on Sunday. Pace brings two key elements to the table for the Wildcats: speed and defense. Pace, arguably the team’s fastest player, stole one base in his only attempt on the week and could become more of a factor on the bases with more chances. He also is steady in the outfield and has good range, as he displayed on Sunday in his start in centerfield.

Off to the Races: Arizona opens the 2009 season with a rigorous schedule that includes only six off days in the first month of the season. The Wildcats began a stretch of 18 games in 24 days last  Friday against Sacramento State. Fortunately, all but two of those games are in Tucson with the lone road games at UNLV on Feb. 24 and 25. UA will then settle into Pac-10 play for several weeks with a typical Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule in place and no mid-week games until mid April.

Home Sweet Home: Arizona will host 35 games at Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium this season. If the past two seasons are any indication, that should be a good thing for a young Wildcat club. Over the last 2+ seasons (2009 included), UA has posted a mark of 55-10 at home, including a 25-5 mark a season ago.

Manageable Travel Schedule: After enduring one of the toughest travel schedules in the nation a year ago, the Wildcats will face a much more manageable travel schedule in 2009. Arizona plays only two non-conference series on the road and both are only a short flight away. UA heads to Las Vegas to take on UNLV this week for a short two-game series. Later in the season, the Wildcats will head to Cal State Fullerton for a mid-week series (May 5-6). Both series are wedged between home series, meaning there won’t be any Seattle-San Diego-Tucson or Tempe-Los Angeles-Stillwater-Tucson stretches like a year ago.

Brad is Back: The Wildcats are more than happy to hear that Brad Glenn will be back for his senior season, but it hasn’t always been a sure thing for more than one reason. First, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound third baseman turned down professional baseball after being drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 17th round of last summer’s MLB draft. Then last fall, Glenn injured his throwing arm in a non-baseball accident. Good news for the Wildcats, though, is that Glenn has quickly recovered from the injury and is expected to provide the offensive power and leadership that the club needs. Glenn has 149 RBI in his 3+ at UA and is within reach of breaking into the Top 10 in UA and Pac-10 history with another 50+ RBI season.

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 is in his eighth season as the Wildcats’ skipper with a 254-161-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 941-578-7. 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.

Strong Finish: After bottoming out at a season-low .193 with the batting average after going 0 for 5 against Indiana State on April 11, Brad Glenn went on a tear at the plate to finish the 2008 season. Over the final 30 games of 2008, Glenn hit a team-best .373 and drove in a team-high 35 runs over the final half of the season. In addition, he led all Wildcats with 34 runs scored over the stretch, and tied Jon Gaston for the second-most homeruns in the 30 games (8). He also posted the team’s top mark for slugging percentage (.667) and was second in on-base percentage (.441).

One More Time Around: Senior RHP Preston Guilmet returns for his senior year and should lead the UA staff once again as the Friday Night starter. Guilmet currently ranks No. 4 in UA history with 332 strikeouts and needs 91 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 329.1 innings in his 3+ 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 21 career wins are six shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA.

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

Up Next: Arizona will return home to begin a 13-game home stand. The Wildcats will host the Georgia Bulldogs in a Friday-Sunday three-game series at Jerry Kindall Field.

 

 

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