The Wildcats opened their home schedule with a weekend sweep of visiting Sacramento State ... The Feburary 29 date for the home opener was the latest in a year that Arizona has played its first game in Tucson since 1968 ... The Cats defeated the Hornets 9-3, 15-7 and 10-9 to open the year 3-0 at Kindall Field ... Head coach Andy Lopez won his 900th collegiate game in Fridayˇ?s series-opening win ... Offense: As a team the Wildcats batted .384 (38 for 99) with eight doubles, five triples and eight home runs against the Hornet pitching staff ˇ? The Cats slugged .808 as a team and had a .470 on-base percentage ˇ? The offensive outburst improved UAˇ?s team batting average for the year 47 points, from .286 to its current .333 ... Sophomore Diallo Fon continued his torrid start to the season, finishing the weekend series 4 for 6 (.667) with two doubles, two triples, three walks and five runs scored ˇ? Sophomore Dillon Baird batted .417 (5 for 12) with two doubles, a grand slam, six RBI and two runs scored in the series ˇ? Senior C.J. Ziegler batted .417 (5 for 12) with a double, three home runs, two walks, zero strikeouts, eight RBI and five runs scored in three games ˇ? Junior Jon Gaston led all players with six runs scored against Sac State and finished the series 4 for 12 (.333) with a homer and five RBI ˇ? Sophomore Robert Abel hit his first collegiate home run in Sundayˇ?s 10-9 win ˇ? Colt Sedbrook and T.J. Steele both hit homers in the series. Sedbrook also drove in five runs over the weekend, while Steeleˇ?s homer was the winning margin in Sundayˇ?s contest ˇ? Freshman Bobby Coyle hit a two-run triple in his first collegiate at bat ˇ? Pitching: The Wildcats posted a 4.67 team ERA in 27 innings of work ˇ? The UA pitching staff showed impressive control, recording 34 strikeouts against just five walks all weekend long ˇ? Sac State batted .291 against the Wildcat staff ˇ? Junior Preston Guilmet struck out 11 and walked none in the series opener to win his first game of the year ˇ? Sophomore Jason Stoffel picked up his third save of the season with scoreless innings of work on Sunday ˇ? Junior Daniel Schlereth won his first game of the year.
Live Video From Whataburger Classic
Arizona fans that can't make the trip but still want to catch all of the action at this weekend's Whataburger Classic from Corpus Christi, Texas, can do so over the internet. Fans can buy a single game pass for $8 or the entire weekend pass for $25. Details on how to sign up can be found by?CLICKING HERE?
The Wildcats remained the No. 1 team in the nation in the weekly Baseball America poll and held firm in the No. 2 slot of the Collegiate Baseball rankings. The Wildcats moved up two spots, from 5th to 3rd, in the first release of the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches poll since the preseason rankings came out and jumped up one spot in both the Rivals.com, No. 7 to No. 6, and NCBWA, No. 6 to No. 5, polls.
A Quick Look at UNLV
The Rebels head to Tucson for the midweek two-game set with a 5-3 overall record ... UNLV comes to town with a three-game win streaks after sweeping a three-game series against Maine last weekend in Las Vegas ... The Rebs are batting .331 asa team and are averaging 12.4 hits, 8.1 runs and seven RBI per game thus far ... Individually Zavier Scruggs is red hot, batting a team-best .529 with 12 RBI, three doubles, two triples and three home runs in eight games played ... UNLV has announced that it will start right-hander Thomas Whitsett (0-0, 8.10 ERA) on Tuesday and right-hander Stephen Singer (0-1, 23.62 ERA) on Wednesday ... As a staff UNLV pitchers have posted a 5.16 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 75 innings of work ... Head coach Buddy Gouldsmith is in his fifth season in Las Vegas and has posted a 130-122 record with the Rebels.
Arizona ?vs. UNLV ˇ? The All-Time Series
The Wildcats and Rebels have met 19 times on the diamond in a series that dates back to 1984. Arizona owns a slight 10-9 edge in the all-time series after taking two of three from UNLV in Las Vegas last season.
On the Air
Brian Jeffries, the Voice of the Wildcats, and 1290 AM will broadcast the opening game of the two-game set vs. UNLV on Tuesday. 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.
Five different Wildcat players are averaging at least one run scored per game this season. Diallo Fon, Jon Gaston and Colt Sedbrook share the team lead with eight runs scored in six games, C.J. Ziegler has scored seven times this season and T.J. Steele six times. Out of the 16 players that have at least one at bat for the Wildcats this year, 13 have touched home for a run thus far.
A Ton of Fon
Redshirt sophomore Diallo Fon has gotten off to an impressive start despite starting just two games. The second-year Wildcat is batting a team-high .714 (5 for 8) with two doubles, two triples and a home run. He is slugging an astronomical 2.000, has posted an .800 on-base percentage, scored eight runs, driven in three more, walked three times and has yet to strike out. Fon made three reserve appearances in UAˇ?s season-opening series at Georgia (scoring twice a pinch runner and hitting a three-run homer in his only AB of the series), before starting two of the three games against Sac State last weekend and batting .667 with two doubles, two triples and five runs scored.
Ziggy Dials up the Long Ball
C.J. Ziegler has torn the cover off the baseball in UAˇ?s first six games. The senior has hit a team-best five home runs, including three with two outs, and two doubles to account for seven of his eight hits and his 1.042 slugging percentage thus far. He has driven in a team-high 13 runs and scored seven times. Last season Ziegler led Arizona with 13 home runs, but didnˇ?t hit his fifth bomb until his 16th game of the year.
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 against Sac State. He has now been hit by 44 pitches in 108 games played, the most in school history ... After hitting just eight extra base hits at Georgia in the season opening series, the Wildcats rapped out 21 non-singles against Sac State, including eight doubles, five triples and eight home runs ... The Wildcats have hit at least one home run in all six games thus far and have hit two or more in a contest four times ... Senior C.J. Ziegler is the lone Wildcat to collect at least one hit in all six games thus far. Should he get at least one hit in each of the two games against UNLV he will match his career high set last season. Classmate Sedbrook is riding a four-game hitting streak heading into Tuesdayˇ?s game against the Rebels ... The Wildcats have scored 34 of their 57 runs this season with two outs (60%), including five scoring frames where the first run wasnˇ?t scored until two outs had been made.
The crowd of 3,398 on opening day last Friday against Sac State was the fourth-largest to witness the Wildcats first home game of the year and the most fans for opening day since 4,012 turned out to watch the 1992 home opener against New Mexico. The weekend tally of 6,700 fans was the best for any home opening weekend since the 1980 club drew 12,111 fans to see the Cats take on the 1979 CWS champs Cal State Fullerton in a three-game series.
Youˇ?re Going to Have to Earn It
A week after walking 15 in a three-game series at Georgia to open the year, the Arizona pitching staff showed the kind of control many thought it would have this season last weekend. The Cats issued just five free passes in 27 innings of work against Sac State to help them improve the team strikeout-to-walk ratio to nearly 3-to-1 (59-to-20) for the year.
The Wildcats have been opportunistic on the base paths this season. Through the first six games Arizona is 15 for 18 in stolen base tries for an average of 2.5 steals per game. Sophomore Robert Abel is the top thief, going a perfect 6 for 6 thus far, but is followed closely by Colt Sedbrook (3 for 3) and Jon Gaston (3 for 4)
Highlighted by a three-run homer by Diallo Fon and two-run triple by Bobby Coyle, Arizonaˇ?s reserves are putting the pressure on the starters to keep their productivity up. Arizonaˇ?s non-starters are batting .500 (5 for 10) with eight RBI and five runs scored in six games thus far. Led by sophomore Mike Weldonˇ?s three RBI, UA pinch hitters are 4 for 7 (.571) with five RBI early on.
Sophomore closer Jason Stoffel has been pretty close to automatic in shutting down games. In 28 all-time relief outings the right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA, eight saves and 56 strikeouts in 43 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 three save opportunities this season.
Keeping the Boys Busy
Arizona is in the midst of a stretch in which it will play eight games in 10 days. It is the first of three parts of the year in which the Wildcats will see a ton of action a short time frame. The Cats close the end of March with a nine-games in 13 days stint before taking on the month of April that will feature 20 contests in just 30 days. In order to keep up on their studies with the compacted schedule, the Wildcats will travel with an academic advisor on all road trips this season.
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.
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.