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Baseball Hosts No. 7 Cal State Fullerton
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/16/2006
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Potential Starting Lineup
1 Brad Boyer L/R 2B Eighth in Pac-10 with 21 runs scored
2 Jason Donald R/R SS Missed just the 2nd game of his three-year career last week
3 Eric Berger L/L DH Five of nine hits are doubles
4 Brad Glenn R/R 1B Hit his second HR of the season last weekend 
5 Konrad Schmidt R/R C Hit .364 at #15 Mississippi State last weekend
6 Jon Gaston L/L RF Third on the team in hitting 
7 T.J. Steele R/R CF Team-leader with four triples this season
8 David Plante L/L LF Batted .429 last weekend at #15 Mississippi State
9 Colt Sedbrook R/R 3B Has been hit by a Pac-10-high 13 pitches this year
Pitching
Fri.. Eric Berger LHP Fourth in the Pac-10 in strikeouts 
Sat.  Preston Guilmet RHP Has a 3.12 ERA as a starter
Sun. Brad Mills LHP Went a career-high 5 2/3 innings last weekend
CP Mark Melancon RHP Has given up just one earned run out of the pen this year

 

Last Week

The Wildcats were swept in a three-game series for the first time since April 23-25, 2004 after No. 15-ranked Mississippi State won 3-2, 9-2 and 5-4 in Starkville last weekend ... The Wildcats batted .232 in the three-game series and finished with four doubles, two triples and a home run ... On the mound, the UA pitching staff posted a 5.62 ERA in 24 innings pitched and finished with 32 strikeouts.

 

A Quick Look at Cal State Fullerton

After getting swept by Stanford on the opening weekend of the 2006 season, the No. 7-ranked Titans have won 14 of their last 17 games and a season-high five-straight ... CSF enters the weekend series in Tucson with a .296 team batting average and has hit 40 doubles, seven triples and 10 home runs ... Individually, infielder Justin Turner leads the team with a .358 batting and seven stolen bases ... Junior Blake Davis has scored a team-high 22 runs this season while freshman David Cooper in the team-leader in RBI with 18 ... On the mound, the Titans boast a 2.78 team ERA and have 141 strikeouts in 178 innings pitched ... Friday starter Wes Romer is 4-0 this season with a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings pitched ... The sophomore right-hander has struck out 46 batters this year and has yet to issue a walk in six starts, one word - WOW ... CSF is led by 10th-year head coach George Horton, who has compiled a 416-178-1 record with the Titans.

 

The History

Arizona and Cal State Fullerton have met 85 times on diamond since 1975 ... The Titans own a 55-30 advantage in the all-time series ... 2006 marks the third straight season the two schools have met in the regular season.

 

Last Season

Arizona and Cal State Fullerton met up for six games in 2005, three in the regular season and three in the NCAA regional ... The Titans won four of the six and eliminated the Wildcats from the postseason ... In the regular season, Arizona won the opening game of the three-game series 1-0, but CSF rallied to take the second two games 7-1 and 17-15 ... In the regional, the Wildcats again won the first contest, but the Titans triumphed in the next two games to end UA’s season ... All six games were played at Goodwin Field in Fullerton.

 

Offensive Numbers

Entering the weekend against No. 7 Cal State Fullerton the Arizona offense is batting .285 as a team and is averaging 6.6 runs, 9.6 hits, 1.8 doubles and 6.1 RBI per game ... With just six home runs this season, UA’s power numbers are down but the Wildcats have still managed to hit 32 doubles and a Pac-10-high 15 triples this year.

 

Pitching Numbers

The 2006 season has been a year of two different pitching staffs - the first nine games and the last nine games. Over the course of the first nine contests the Wildcats pitchers posted a 5.85 ERA in 80 innings, and the opposition batted .301 against them. In the last nine games, including four against ranked teams, the Wildcats have a 2.96 team ERA in 79 innings, and the opposition is batting just .249 against them ... The Wildcat pitching staff is third in the Pac-10 in strikeouts this season with 181, trailing only UCLA (184) and Arizona State (182) which have both played four more games than UA this season.

 

Starters Starting To Step Up

One reason for the improved pitching numbers has been the starting staff. In the first nine games of the 2006 season, the Arizona starters were roughed up for a 6.92 ERA and pitched just 40 1/3 of a possible 80 innings during that stretch (50%). The last three weeks has seen a dramatic turnaround as the starters have posted a 2.92 ERA over the last nine games and worked 49 1/3 of a possible 79 innings (62%).

Starters First Nine vs. Last Nine

First Nine 2-4, 6.92 ERA, 40 1/3 IP, 62 H, 42 R, 31 ER, 12 BB, 36 K
Last Six 3-3, 2.92 ERA, 49 1/3 IP, 42 H, 17 R, 16 ER, 25 BB, 67 K
 

Ringing Them Up

Friday starter Eric Berger has seen his strikeout totals improve over his last three starts. In his first three games this season, the left-hander averaged four Ks a game, and had just 12 punchouts in 17 innings pitched. Against UA’s last three opponents, La Salle, Minnesota and No. 15 Mississippi State, Berger has 27 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings pitched, an average of nine Ks per start. The improved strikeout total coincides with a lower ERA, as it is two runs better (2.76) over the last three games then in the first three (4.76).

 

Mound Construction

Engineering major Brad Mills has done some fine work on the mound as the third starter in the Arizona rotation. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.90 ERA and 31 strikeouts overall this season. He has set a new career-high for strikeouts three times already this season, and he also helped team up with closer Mark Melancon for Arizona’s lone shut out of the season against Notre Dame. All the numbers are impressive on their own, but when taking into consideration that Mills has already surpassed his first two seasons innings pitched totals in just this season alone, they stand out even more.

Mills First Two Seasons vs. 2006

Year(s) ERA W L IP K
2004-05 4.63 0 1 23.1 19
2006 3.9 2 0 27.2 31
 

Melancon Mows ?'Em Down

Wildcat closer Mark Melancon has been nearly untouchable out of the bullpen this season. Having surrendered just one earned run in relief this season, the right-hander currently leads the Wildcats with an impressive 1.86 ERA (third-best in the Pac-10). Out of the pen, Melancon has struck out 30 batters and walked only six in 24 innings pitched. As the closer, opponents are hitting just .183 against him. The “as the closer” qualifier must be used, because in his one start this season the junior surrendered a career-high six runs on five hits to New Mexico, and thus his return to the bullpen.

Melancon Starting vs. Relief Numbers This Season

Starting (1 start) 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, .333 Opp BA
Relief (7 app) 3-2, 2 saves, 0.38 ERA, 24 IP, 15 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 30 K, .183 Opp BA
 

Not Your Typical Closer

As noted above, Mark Melancon has posted some very nice numbers out of the bullpen in the early going for Arizona. What makes them even more impressive is that the junior is not a typical one-inning closer. In seven relief appearances, the right-hander has gone two or more innings all seven times, and has pitched three or more innings in five of seven.. UA’s trip to Minneapolis proved the value to Arizona of his ability to go longer in games. Clinging to a 4-2 lead with the tying runs on base in the sixth inning against Minnesota on Friday, Melancon entered and ended the Gopher threat with a pair of strikeouts and then held them scoreless over the final three innings in an eventual 7-2 Arizona win. Two days later, Melancon entered a 0-0 game with Notre Dame and held the Fighting Irish scoreless over the final 4 2/3 innings, which allowed the Wildcat offense to pull off a 2-0, 10-inning victory despite getting out-hit 10 to 4 in the game.

 

Coulon Comes Through

Left-hander David Coulon has been impressive in his last two appearances. After giving up five earned runs on five hits over 3 1/3 innings against Loyola Marymount on opening weekend, Coulon has given up just one hit and struck out three in two appearances out of the bullpen over the last two weekends. Working two-thirds of an inning against No. 11 Nebraska and 2 2/3 innings at No. 15 Mississippi State, Coulon has cut his ERA in half for the year and is forcing his way back into the pitching mix for the Wildcats.

 

Guilmet Gets the Nod

 Freshman right-hander Preston Guilmet moved into the weekend rotation on Feb. 26, and has made an impression in three career starts. Starting against La Salle, No. 11 Nebraska and at No. 15 Mississippi State, Guilmet has gone seven innings twice and given up a combined six runs on 17 hits, while striking out 20 and walking only five.

Guilmet Relief vs. Starting Numbers

Relief (4 app) 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 9 1/3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 14 K, .243 Opp BA
Starting (3 starts) 1-2, 3.12 ERA, 17 1/3 IP, 17 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 20 K, .250 Opp BA

 

Preston Presses On

Freshman Preston Guilmet has been the recipient of a couple of tough losses. The right-hander is 1-2 this season, but in his two losses he has given up just a total of five runs on 11 hits in 10 1/3 innings pitched. The Wildcat offense has posted a combined three runs in those two losses, a 3-1 decision to No. 11 Nebraska and a 9-2 defeat to No. 15 Mississippi State.

 

Taking a Dose

Maybe an orange safety vest should be required for the Arizona hitters this season. Opponent pitchers are averaging 2.2 hit batters per game through 18 contests this year. Should the Wildcat opposition keep plunking batters at such a rate, Arizona will end up crushing the 2002 school record of 69 hit batters set in 55 games (1.3/game). With the current average, Arizona is on pace for 123 HBP in the regular season and would break its single season record in just its 32nd game.

        Individually, sophomore Colt Sedbrook has been plunked by a Pac-10-high 13 pitches in 18 games this season and is just six HBP away from tying teammate Jason Donald’s single season record of 19 set last season.

 

Bulls Eye

Getting plunked in back-to-back ABs against La Salle on .Feb. 25 moved junior Jason Donald past Kenny Corley for the top spot on the all-time HBP list at Arizona. Donald, who was hit by 10 pitches his freshman season and by 19 last year, has been hit by four pitches in 17 games this season for an all-time high of 33. To put Donald’s record-breaking wayward pitch magnetism in perspective, Corley’s former record of 32 was set in 201 games played over four seasons (1995-98). Donald’s 33 HBP have happened in two-plus seasons and just 140 games played.

 

Helping Hand

When not taking the mound as the Friday starter, left-hander Eric Berger has helped his pitching staffmates as the DH. Starting nine games in the batting order, Berger has  found more than a little success. In 29 at-bats this season, the sophomore has nine hits, five doubles, four runs scored and a very impressive 10 RBI. Last Friday at Mississippi State, Berger became the first player at UA since Marc Kaiser in 2002 to start a game as the pitcher/DH.

 

Getting Old

Arizona’s youth is clearly evident in the starting lineup. With an entire outfield of true freshman and a frosh first baseman, nearly half of the Wildcat lineup was playing seven innings in high school a year ago. While they may be young in age, they are getting old on the playing field in a fine fashion. Combined, the five freshman (Jon Gaston, Brad Glenn, T.J. Steele, David Plante and Hunter Pace) that have appeared in seven or more games this season have teamed up for 55 of UA’s 173 hits (32%), 38 of the 118 runs (31%), 11 of the 32 doubles (34%), six of the 15 triples (40%), four of the six home runs (67%) and 41 of the 109 RBI (38%). RF Gaston, 1B Glenn and CF Steele have all started at least 15 games thus far and are among the team leaders in numerous offensive categories

 

The Nine Hole

The last spot in the batting order has been one of the most productive for Arizona this season. The No. 9 hole in the order has seen the seven players that have hit there hit a batting order-best .339 (20 for 59) with 11 runs scored, 12 RBI and two of UA’s six home runs this season. Sophomore Colt Sedbrook, who has started eight games as the No. 9 hitter, leads all players with a .455 average, seven runs scored and five RBI out of the bottom spot in the order.

 

A Bad Slice

Three Arizona players had a little trouble with some bad pizza last weekend in Mississippi. Juniors Jason Donald and Stephen Pearson, and sophomore Eric Berger all got food poisoning and missed Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. The illness kept UA’s No. 3 (Donald) and No. 4 (Berger) hitters out of the game, and for Donald it was just the second time in his three-year career, 142 total games,  he was not in the starting lineup for the Wildcats.

 

Double D on the DL

Outfielder Derek Decater will not be available this weekend after injuring his shoulder in a collision with the left field fence at the Metrodome on March 3. After entering the game as a defensive replacement against Minnesota, the senior collided with the wall on the first ball hit to him in the sixth inning. Decater’s injury led to a defensive adjustment that saw Arizona lose the DH in the batting order and allow reliever Mark Melancon to get two at-bats. Melancon went 0 for 2 with a pair of strikeouts.

 

One Pitch, One Swing, Two Accomplishments

Freshman Jon Gaston hit the first collegiate pitch thrown to him over the right field fence at Kindall Field in UA’s season-opener against LMU on Feb. 3. The home run marked the first time since Nick Hundley in 2003 that a UA player homered in his first career at-bat. Hitting the home run as pinch hitter, Gaston’s HR was also the first for a replacement batter at Arizona since Dallas Haught went yard for the Wildcats as a PH against Washington State on 4/19/2003.

 

Preseason Pac-10 Poll

The Wildcats have been picked to finish in a tie for fifth in the conference this year in the annual preseason coaches poll. Defending champ Oregon State was selected to hold on to the top spot, while USC was picked to finish second, Stanford and Arizona State to share third and the Wildcats and Cal earned a tie for the fifth spot.

 

The Non-Conference Slate

Arizona is set to meet up with 12 teams outside of the Pac-10 Conference and twice with rival Arizona State in non-conference games. Some non-conference opponents Arizona faced just last year (Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UNLV, UC Riverside, New Mexico, Arizona State and Mississippi State), some in the not so distant past (Loyola Marymount 1999, Minnesota 2003, Notre Dame 2004, and Southern Utah 2002), one in the way bygone (Nebraska 1939) and one never at all (La Salle). The Wildcats went 22-14 in non-conference action last year including the NCAA tournament.

 

Clemens Award Watch List

Junior Mark Melancon was one of 40 collegiate players nationwide to be named to the early watch list for the 2006 Roger Clemens Award. The award is presented to the top player in the nation upon the conclusion of the year. UA’s John Meloan was named to the watch list a year ago for the Wildcats.

 

Renovations Replay

The offseason was busy time around Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium. After the July summer camps wrapped up the heavy equipment moved in, tore out the entire playing surface, a total of six rows of bleachers and the old score board. In their stead was placed a laser-leveled playing surface, grass berms for seating down both the right and left field lines and a new score board and video board. Also added was a billboard in right field with UA’s 15 CWS appearances and three national titles represented. The left field area behind the grass berm, which is still under construction, is being remade into a Legends Plaza and picnic area. The plaza will honor all the individual award winners at UA, as well as the team members from UA’s 15 CWS teams.

 

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