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Cats Host Another Top 25 Showdown
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/12/2012
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April 12, 2012

2012 Arizona Baseball
April 13-15  |  Tucson, Ariz.  |  Hi Corbett Field
No. 17 UCLA Bruins (22-7, 8-4 Pac-12) @ No. 4 Arizona Wildcats (23-9, 9-3 Pac-12) 

Friday, April 13 •  6 p.m. (MST)  •  Hi Corbett Field  •  UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Adam Plutko (4-2, 3.26) vs. RHP Kurt Heyer (5-1, 2.10)

Live Audio  •  GameTracker
No Webcast -- FSN Tape Delay TV

Saturday, April 14 •  6 p.m. (MST)  •  Hi Corbett Field  •  UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Nick Vander Tuig (3-2, 5.29) vs. RHP Konner Wade (4-0, 3.71)
Live Audio  •  Live Video
GameTracker
Sunday, April 15 •  Noon (MST)  •  Hi Corbett Field  •  UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Zack Weiss (1-1, 3.58) vs. RHP James Farris (4-1, 4.29)
Live Audio  •  Live Video
GameTracker 

Some Series ThemesQuick Links
A pair of clubs jockeying for position atop the Pac-12 Standings as they approach the mid-point of the new 30-game league schedule ... A Wildcat club that has enjoyed success at home (18-5) in the first half of the year welcomes a Bruin squad to Hi Corbett that is unbeaten away from Jackie Robinson Stadium (7-0 road, 1-0 neutral) ... Two statistically similar teams across the board ... Friday night aces Kurt Heyer and Adam Plutko, both righties, duel in a Fox Sports Net tape-delayed telecast ... A clash of the Pac-12's top offensive lineups, which interestingly are both hitting better in league games than they are overall ... UA looks to clean up defensively, where it has committed 52 errors after 56 total a year ago ... The Bruins rank in the top half of the conference in fielding percentage (.973) compared to the Cats' 10th-ranked .951 mark ... Both sides rank in the top half of the league in stolen bases, including UA's lead-leading 49 to date ... A combined 14 regular starters from the two schools are hitting .300 or better entering the series ... UCLA's Tyler Heineman (.412) continues his chase for the league batting crown, while four Wildcats rank in the top-10 among conference players for batting average. Baseball America Rankings
Game Notes (PDF)
Season Statistics
Schedule/Results
2012 Media Guide
Pac-12 Standings
UCLA vs. Arizona Statistical Comparison Arizona Statistical Leaders
UCLAStat Arizona Stat Player
22-7 (8-4 Pac-12)Record 23-9 (9-3 Pac-12)Avg. Alex Mejia (.380)
.310Avg. .331Hits Mejia/Rickard (49)
193Runs 228Runs Johnny Field (34)
300Hits 363RBI Robert Refsnyder (35)
472B 642B Joey Rickard (11)
73B15HR Mejia/Refsnyder (3)
13HR 8OB% Robert Refsnyder (.473)
35-53SB-ATT 49-72SLG% Robert Refsnyder (.568)
.401OB% .399SB Refsnyder/Field (9)
.413SLG% .438ERA Kurt Heyer (2.10)
3.46ERA 3.86IP  Konner Wade (60.2)
205 K's 239K's  Konner Wade (58)
Arizona Baseball Game Notes:

Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez: The Wildcats are coached by Andy Lopez, who is now in his 11th season with a 376-236-1 record at the school. He has guided the Wildcats to postseason competition in seven of the last nine years, including two straight NCAA regionals and highlighted by a 2004 College World Series appearance. The Wildcats have won at least 30 games in five straight years and in nine of Lopez's 10 seasons at the school. Overall, Lopez has more than 1,000 career victories, one national championship and four College World Series appearances. Lopez owns a career record of 1,063-654-7 in 30 years as a head coach, including stints at Cal State Dominguez Hills (1983-88), Pepperdine (1989-94), Florida (1995-2001) and Arizona (2002-present). Lopez led Pepperdine, Florida (twice) and Arizona to College World Series appearances. His total victories are 13th-most among active coaches and he is just one of just 45 individuals to reach 1,000 career victories.

Some Series Themes: A pair of clubs jockeying for position atop the Pac-12 Standings as they approach the mid-point of the new 30-game league schedule ... A Wildcat club that has enjoyed success at home (18-5) in the first half of the year welcomes a Bruin squad to Hi Corbett that is unbeaten away from Jackie Robinson Stadium (7-0 road, 1-0 neutral) ... Two statistically similar teams across the board ... Friday night aces Kurt Heyer and Adam Plutko, both righties, duel in a Fox Sports Net tape-delayed telecast ... A clash of the Pac-12's top offensive lineups, which interestingly are both hitting better in league games than they are overall ... UA looks to clean up defensively, where it has committed 52 errors after 56 total a year ago ... The Bruins rank in the top half of the conference in fielding percentage (.973) compared to the Cats' 10th-ranked .951 mark ... Both sides rank in the top half of the league in stolen bases, including UA's lead-leading 49 to date ... A combined 14 regular starters from the two schools are hitting .300 or better entering the series ... UCLA's Tyler Heineman (.412) continues his chase for the league batting crown, while four Wildcats rank in the top-10 among conference players for batting average.

UA-Utah Recap: Arizona continued its streak of winning weekend series by taking two-of-three from Utah in Salt Lake City in a Thursday-Saturday series before Easter Sunday ... Kurt Heyer tossed his second complete game of the year as Arizona cruised to a 11-2 series-opening victory ... The Utes evened the series in the second game, rallying for a 7-6 victory that including a bizarre eighth-inning play that saw Utah tie the game on a potential inning-ending strikeout that turned into a wild pitch followed by two errors ... UA escaped with a series victory despite surrendering a seven-run lead before prevailing 11-7 on Saturday ... The Cats hit .395 as a team with eight doubles, two triples and a homer in the series ... Johnny Field hit 8-for-13 (.615) and Riley Moore batted 7-for-13 (.538) to pace the attack ... Alex Mejia (six RBI) and Bobby Brown (seven RBI) were the run-producers ... UA pitchers combined to strikeout 23 and issue just five walks in the series ... UA's bullpen combined to throw five innings of shutout ball in the final, with Mathew Troupe earning the save with 2.1 innings and three strikeouts.

Fast Start In The Pac: Arizona enters this weekend's crucial series with a 9-3 Pac-12 record and a one-game lead over UCLA and Oregon in the conference standings. It's a welcomed change from recent seasons when the Wildcats have opened league play sluggishly before heating up in the final month of the season for respectable finishes. The Cats' 9-3 record is their best 12-game start to league play since the 2007 club also opened 9-3. Under Andy Lopez, Arizona's best 12-game start was in 2005, when the Wildcats began 10-2. To win the conference, though, UA will need a strong finish too, like the one it has in 201 when the club won nine of its last 12 played. All together, UA is 18-6 in its last 24 conference games.

Keys To Success: In 23 wins, the Wildcats are hitting .364 as a team, compared to just .245 in nine losses ... In wins, UA pitchers have struck out 180 and walked just 47, while totaling only 59 strikeouts against 42 walks ... In wins, UA's fielding percentage is .963 compared to .951 in losses ... In wins, UA has outscored foes 48-21 over the first two innings and 88-42 over the first four innings of games ... In losses, opponents have outscored UA 21-4 over the first two innings and 31-8 over the first four innings ... UA has seven home runs in games it has won, while hitting just one round-tripper in losses ... Opponents are hitting .295 in losses, while struggling to a .232 clip in Wildcat wins ... In wins, UA puts its leadoff batter on nearly half the time (92-191, .482) compared to just 37-percent of the time (30-81, .370) in losses ... In wins, UA hits .376 with runners in scoring position, while struggling at a .216 mark in losses ... UA outscores opponents 52-22 in two-out RBI in wins, but trails 21-10 in two-out RBI in losses.

Milestone Watch: Kurt Heyer is two strikeouts shy of 300 for his career, which is the most for active pitchers in Division I ... Robert Refsnyder is one hit shy of 200 for his career ... Reliever Tyler Hale is one strikeout shy of 100 for his career ... Joey Rickard and Alex Mejia are set to make their 150th career starts on Friday ... Seth Mejias-Brean has 92 career runs scored and 92 career RBI ... Johnny Field is eight hits shy of 100 for his career, while Alex Mejia is eight away from 200 ... Kurt Heyer is slated to make his 45th career start on Friday, which will tie Lance Dickson for eighth-most in school history ... Joey Rickard has played in all 150 games of his UA career, which is currently ninth-most in program history for consecutive games played. Billy Owens (1990-92) sits at No. 8 with 151.

Hot Hitters: Entering the week, Arizona led all Division I teams with a .331 batting average. Interestingly, the Wildcats are hitting even better through 12 conference games at a .342. A total of eight Wildcats are hitting .300 or better on the season (min. 50 at bats) and in Pac-12 games (min. 20 at bats). Arizona finished the 2011 season ranked third in the nation with a .320 batting average. Arizona has hit .300 or better as a team in each of the last nine seasons.

Fearsome Foursome: Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard have combined to make 588 starts in 597 total games played. They have missed a combined three games in their careers, with Rickard playing in all 150 games and missing only one start. It's been a very consistent a productive group that has helped guide the Wildcats to consecutive NCAA Regional appearances. Together they have accumulated 771 base hits and 440 runs scored, hitting .332 (771-2322) as a group.

Mejia Mania: An All-Pac-10 selection as a sophomore, shortstop Alex Mejia is turning in a sensational junior season. Mejia leads the club and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with a .380 batting average entering this week. He is slugging .519 on the season, which is second on the team, and has been boosted by seven doubles, a triple and three home runs. The round-trippers tie for most on the team and are his first since his freshman season after he snapped a streak of 371 at-bats without a home run earlier this season. Mejia has developed from a steady bottom of the order hitter to a guy that now hits No. 3 in the lineup. In his career, Mejia boasts a .339 batting average, 103 runs scored, 192 hits and 105 RBI. Interestingly, Mejia has been even more efficient in conference games in his career, hitting .368 (89-242) with 40 runs and 36 RBI in 66 career league contests. Defensively, Mejia makes some spectacular plays on seemingly a daily basis, and his 105 assists are tied for most in the Pac-12. Mejia was named a second team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

SMB On a Roll: Seth Mejias-Brean is turning in his best season as a Wildcat in the first half of 2012. Mejias-Brean, who has made 143 starts at third base as a Wildcat, carries a career-best .368 batting average into this week. His 33 RBI on the season not only rank fourth among Pac-12 players, but have surpassed the 28 he collected in all of 2011. Speaking of his sophomore campaign a year ago, Mejias-Brean has continued to be one of the Wildcats most productive hitters since the end of last April. Beginning on April 30 of last year and continuing through this week, Mejias-Brean is hitting a robust .386 (71-184) with 29 runs scored and 45 RBI over the course of 51 games. He recently had a 21-game hitting streak snapped, but has still hit safely in 44 of the last 51 games dating back to 2011. In his career, Mejias-Brean is a .325 hitter with 92 runs and 92 RBI.

UA's Iron Man: Junior centerfielder Joey Rickard has played in all 150 games of his Wildcat career, including 149 starts. That's 150 straight games played for Rickard, which puts him No. 9 in school history for consecutive games played. Provided he stays healthy and in the lineup, Rickard can move into the top-five by season's end. It's an impressive feat for a guy that has been UA's table-setter at the top of the order and one asked to roam the spacious outfields at Kindall/Sancet and Hi Corbett Field in his career. He's hitting .358 this season with 11 doubles and 29 runs scored, which has improved his career average to .334. He has 47 extra base hits (30 2B, 5 3B and 12 HR), 125 runs scored and 104 RBI. He has 210 career base hits and 37 stolen bases.

Rev'd Up Ref: Junior right fielder Robert Refsnyder is turning in a strong junior campaign after being named an All-Pac-10 player a year ago. Refsnyder, who has homered in three of the last five games, is second on the club in overall batting average (.376, seventh-highest in Pac-12), while his .568 slugging percentage is tops on the team thanks to a team-leading 15 extra base hits. Refsnyder has walked 14 times and been hit by a pitch 10 other times, boosting his on-base percentage to a team-high .473, which is fifth-best in the Pac-12. In addition, he's scored 31 runs and added 35 RBI, while stealing a team-high nine bases. He's been the guy to have at the plate in key situations, hitting .500 with runners in scoring position. In his three-year career, Refsnyder has an impressive .341 batting average, 120 runs scored, 130 RBI and 54 extra base hits (31 2B, 12 3B, 11 HR).

Field Days: Maybe Johnny Field was getting a little home sick when he was mired in a 7-for-49 (.143) slump over a 13-game stretch before heading into four road games last week in Utah. On the way to the Beehive State, Arizona had a connecting flight through Las Vegas - Field's hometown. On the bus ride to Orem, Utah, I-15 signs pointing to Las Vegas were prominent. It all must have cleared Field's mind of his struggles. He led the Wildcats with a .556 average (10-for-18) in four games last week, collecting a pair of doubles and scoring six runs. His batting average raised from a season-low .294 all the way to its current .333 clip. On the season, Field has scored 34 runs, which is second only to UCLA's Beau Amaral in the Pac-12. He has also drawn a league-leading 24 walks to give him a .453 on-base percentage, which is seventh-best in the conference.

Brown Delivers: Bobby Brown has started each of the last nine games at designated hitter, a move that has paid dividends for Brown and the Wildcats. The senior has built a nine-game hitting streak in which he is batting a robust 15-for-36 (.417) with eight runs scored and 13 runs batted in. His two doubles, two triples and first career home run have boasted his slugging percentage to a team-leading .667 clip in the nine-game span. Brown's batting average has raised exactly 100 points over the nine games, going from .211 to its current .311 mark. On the season, Brown has made 17 starts and played in 22 games. He actually has more RBI (24) than base hits (23) on the season. His 24 runs batted in have also surpassed his career tally of 23 that he carried into the 2012 campaign.

Heyer Standards: Junior Kurt Heyer is in his third season as the Friday starter for the Wildcats. He is a two-time All-Pac-10 honoree and has been tabbed as preseason third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and is on the preseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award. As a sophomore, Heyer tied for the most starts in the nation (20) and ranked fourth nationally with 134 strikeouts. The 6-foot-2 right-hander tallied double-digit strikeouts six times in 2011, and has done so 11 times in his career. In 2012, Heyer is 5-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 60.0 IP, including two complete games.

Heyer Rings `Em Up: Kurt Heyer matched his career high set during his freshman season with 14 strikeouts against Harvard on March 2 and now has 55 on the season. In his career, Heyer has 298 strikeouts, which is believed to be the most in the nation for active pitchers (research courtesy Troy Prendergast at Troy University). Heyer's 298 strikeouts are the 9th-most in program history and trail Rich Hinton's 300 (1967-69) for the eighth-most. Two pretty big names - Lance Dickson (304) and Joe Magrane (307) loom just beyond Hinton. Heyer, a Huntington Beach, Calif., has made 44 starts in his career, which is tied with Don Lee for ninth-most in program history. He boasts a 20-10 record and a 2.64 ERA in his career.

`K'onner Wade: Sophomore RHP Konner Wade, the club's Saturday starter, has reached double-digit strikeouts in three of his eight starts this season and has a team-high 58 on the season, which leads the Pac-12 Conference and ranks No. 24 nationally. That's a bit surprising since he racked up just 28 strikeouts in 61.2 innings as a freshman. Wade, whose career high was seven punch-outs entering the season, shattered the previous mark with 13 in his season debut against North Dakota State on Feb. 18. He followed that up with another 10 strikeouts a week later against Auburn on Feb. 25 and 10 more versus Harvard on March 3. The strong start backs up an impressive summer that saw Wade become a Cape Cod League All-Star mostly as a closer. At Arizona, he'll remain a starter, a spot he's had success in during his first two years. In his career as a starter (6-0, 16 career starts), Wade has thrown 100.2 innings with a 2.95 ERA (33 ER). He was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week on April 2 following a complete-game three-hitter he pitched to clinch UA's series victory over Stanford on March 31.

The Sunday Guy: Understandably, Kurt Heyer draws most of the attention on UA's starting staff and Konner Wade has begun to earn some of his own recognition. So it's easy to overlook the third guy, sophomore James Farris. The right-hander has been a steady starter on Sundays, posting a 4-1 record with a 4.29 ERA. The key for Farris has been his ability to throw strikes. He's struck out just 35 in 50.1 innings pitched, but he's also only issued five walks all year. Those five walks are the fewest for any regular starter or reliever in the Pac-12 averaging at least one inning per game. It averages out to 0.89 walks per nine innings, which ranks lowest in the Pac-12 and 16th-lowest in the nation entering this weekend.

Troupe Time: It wasn't how Andy Lopez had it drawn up entering the season, but freshman Mathew Troupe has earned the club's closer role. The right-hander has performed well despite the on-the-job training. Troupe has six saves one the season, including four on the road in some rather pressure-packed situations. In 13 total appearances, Troupe has a 2-0 record and a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched. He's struck out at least one batter in all 13 outings, and has an impressive 27 total punch-outs against seven walks on the season.

The Setup Man-thei: Junior right-hander Stephen Manthei (pronounced man-THEE) has emerged as the Wildcats go-to setup guy and bridge to closer Mathew Troupe. Manthei is 5-3 on the season with a 2.78 ERA and one save to his credit in 22.2 innings pitched and 16 total appearances. He's been at his best in recent weeks, when he has turned in a stellar 1.37 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched over 13 appearances. During that span, he has surrendered just three earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks, to go with 12 strikeouts. Troupe, meanwhile, has taken over for the final outs of the game to earn five of his six saves during Manthei's last 13 appearances.

Ranked Foes: Arizona has played six of its last 10 games against ranked teams, and has a 5-1 record in those contests. To date, the Wildcats have played eight games against teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25 Poll at the time of the game. The Wildcats split two at No. 8 Rice (3/13-15), before winning a road series at No. 19 Oregon State (3/23-25). Arizona then went home and swept three games from No. 2 Stanford (3/30-4/1) at Hi Corbett Field. In all, the Cats have a 6-2 record against Baseball America Top 25 teams thus far, with plenty more showdowns on the slate. Home games against No. 17 UCLA this week and No. 17 Oregon (5/4-6), plus five total games against rival No. 21 Arizona State (4/17, 5/16, 5/25-27) are in store.

Home At Hi Corbett: Arizona's decision to move its home venue off campus to historic Hi Corbett Field has paid dividends this season, none bigger than its last home series in a showdown with No. 2 Stanford (March 30 - April 1). A crowd of 4,191 turned out for the series opener on Friday, the largest home attendance for the Cats in over four years. More than 3,500 showed up on Saturday and another 2,900-plus cheered the Cats on to a sweep on Sunday. Over the three games, a total of 10,656 passed through the gates, which marked the first time UA surpassed 10,000 fans for a three-game series in two decades. The last time it happened was May 15-17, 1992, when the Wildcats closed out the regular season with a three-game sweep of Arizona State in front of a combined 13,466 at Sancet Field. That was also the last season Arizona hosted an NCAA regional. On the year, the Cats have drawn 48,571 fans in 23 games (avg. 2,111), a significant increase over the 36,412 fans at 33 home games (1,103 per game) a season ago.

From Start To Finish: Baseball is a nine-inning game (usually), but the early returns on this year's Arizona baseball team show that scoring first can make all the difference. Consider that the Wildcats are 12-3 when scoring first in a game, while six of their nine losses have come in games when the opponent scores first. One of the indicators has been first-inning runs. The Cardinal and Navy is 9-3 when scoring in the first inning this year. UA holds a narrow 24-21 scoring advantage in the first innings of games this year. In 2011, the Cats were a quick-starting club that outscored foes 42-18 in the initial frame over the course of the season and posted a mark of 23-7 when scoring first.

Alive With Five: Five runs seems to be a pretty good breaking point for success for the Wildcats. In 2012, Arizona is 20-3 when it scores five or more runs in a game, while it has struggled to a 3-6 mark when it fails to score at least five runs. Conversely, the same holds true for opponents. When the Wildcats have held opponents under five runs, they are 14-0. When opponents score five runs or more, UA has struggled at to a 9-9 clip.

Defensive Woes: Errors are one thing Arizona wants to limit in the second half of the season. In 32 games, the Cats have committed 52 errors. In 60 games in 2011, the club committed only 56 all season long. A year ago, UA's 0.976 fielding percentage ranked No. 14 in the nation. The team enters this week with a .959 fielding percentage that is second-to-last in the Pac-12 and ranked No. 205. It should also be noted, however, that the Wildcats have played some spectacular defense at times, notably on the left side of the infield. Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean and shortstop Alex Mejia have 10 errors apiece, but they've turned in just as many highlight-reel caliber plays to rob base bits. They've each accrued a few errors, too, on throws after impressive plays. Along with the two upper classmen, freshmen catcher Riley Moore and freshman second baseman Trent Gilbert each have seven errors, some of which can certainly be attributed to youthful mistakes. If the Wildcats can clean up some play here and there, they have the makings for a strong defensive club like they were a year ago.

Closing the Deal: Under Andy Lopez, the Wildcats have been dominant in games when they have had a lead late in games. In fact, the Wildcats are 281-26-1 (.912) in the last 308 games when they have a lead after the sixth inning. That covers the last nine full seasons of Lopez's teams that have won at a 91-percent clip in such games. Certainly it has helped having Major League arms in the bullpen. Consider that three players - Mark Melancon, Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry - have reached the big leagues in recent years, and another - Cory Burns - may get a chance this season with the San Diego Padres. In 2011, Arizona was 31-4 when leading after six innings. So far in 2012, the Wildcats are 19-2 in such games.

On Deck: Arizona hits the road for four games next week. The Wildcats will take on rival Arizona State in a non-conference tilt in Tempe on Tuesday, April 17, at 6:30 p.m. Arizona will then travel to Seattle for a three-game Pac-12 series at Washington beginning on April 20.

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