May 30, 2012
2012 Arizona Baseball
NCAA Tucson Regional Notes
- UA is making its 37th all-time NCAA postseason appearance, including its third straight. Under Andy Lopez, UA earned a postseason berth in eight the last 10 seasons.
- The Wildcats claimed a share of the Pac-12 Championship, their first league title since 1993.
- UA last hosted an NCAA Regional in 1992. Andy Lopez's Pepperdine club won the regional and went on the win the national championship in Omaha.
- The No. 1 seed is Arizona's highest regional seed since 2008, when Arizona began play in Ann Arbor, Mich., at No. 2 seed Michigan.
- Alex Mejia became the sixth Wildcat player all-time to earn Pac-10/12 Player of the Year honors. The other five - Terry Francona, Chip Hale, Alan Zinter, Scott Erickson and Trevor Crowe - each played Major League Baseball.
- Andy Lopez was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the first time in his 11 seasons at Arizona. - The Wildcats placed six players on the 25-member Pac-12 All-Conference Team
- UA drew 14,055 fans to its final three home games last weekend. The crowd of 5,677 was the largest for a UA home game since 1980.
- Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard each have over 400 career hits. It marks the first time in school history four active players have had 200 or more career hits.
- UA's last meeting with Missouri in 2005 featured seven future MLB ballplayers.
- UA led the Pac-12 and ranked No. 5 in the nation with a .325 batting average during the regular season. - UA's 7.1 runs per game ranks No. 9 nationally.
- Johnny Field led the Pac-12 in batting average (.379) and on-base percentage (.494), which was seventh nationally during regular season.
- UA pitchers have thrown 11 complete games in 2012, most in a season at the school since 1990.
- UA pitchers have allowed just 2.78 walks per nine innings, ranked No. 26 nationally.
- UA pitchers have a 2.55 walk to strikeout ration, No. 29 nationally.
- UA is 25-1 when holding opponents to four runs or less.
- UA is 34-4 when out-hitting opponents and 1-12 when being out-hit (3-1 when tied.)
Pac-12 Champs: Arizona won a share of the Pac-12 Championship with a 20-10 mark in league play, tying with UCLA. The conference crown is the school's first since 1992 when Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Kindall led the Wildcats to an 18-12 mark in the Pac-10 South. Arizona also won Pac-10 South titles in 1989 and 1980 in addition to winning five WAC championships before moving into the Pac-10 for the 1979 season. Andy Lopezhas coached Arizona to a pair of second-place finishes, and this year's Pac-12 championship marks the ninth time he has led a school to a conference title, including twice at Florida in the SEC. Also of note is Arizona's 20 conference wins in 2012, which is the second-highest win total the school has ever accumulated in league action. The 1989 Pac-10 South championship club went 23-7.
Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Andy Lopezwas named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the first time in his 11 seasons in Tucson. Lopez has guided the Wildcats to a 38-17 overall record and a Pac-12 co-championship in 2012. The league title is Arizona's first conference crown since 1992, and the school is hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time since that same season. Interestingly, Lopez's Pepperdine club won the Tucson Regional in 1992 and advanced to the College World Series, where it won the national championship. Under the guidance of Lopez, the Wildcats have advanced to an NCAA Regional in eight of the last 10 seasons, including in 2004 when the school advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 1986. In the eight seasons prior to Lopez becoming the head coach, Arizona qualified for just one NCAA Regional (1999).
Pac-12 Player of the Year: Shortstop Alex Mejia was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, becoming just the sixth player in school history to earn the award. Mejia's spectacular defensive play, improved offensive skills and leadership on and off the field drew attention from the league coaches to earn him the top honor. Mejia, who was also named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, has been Arizona's starting shortstop in all 172 games he has played at the school. In 2012, Mejia turned in a career-best season. He finished third on the team and No. 5 in the Pac-12 with a .357 batting average and led all Pac-12 players with 81 hits during the regular season. Mejia ranked No. 9 with 47 runs scored and tied for No. 10 with 46 RBI, while he was tied for No. 3 in conference with five triples and ranked third on club with three home runs. Other Pac-10/12 Players of the Year at Arizona include: Trevor Crowe(2005), Scott Erickson and Alan Zinter (co-MVPs 1989), Chip Hale (1987) and Terry Francona (1980).
Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist: Junior pitcher Kurt Heyer is one of 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to the top amateur baseball player. The Wildcats' right-hander has turned in a remarkable junior campaign, posting an 11-2 record and a 2.03 earned run average, the lowest among Pac-12 starting pitchers during the regular season. Heyer has registered the second-most strikeouts (91) in the Pac-12, and has walked just 20 while throwing a league-leading 119.2 innings for Arizona. Heyer has thrown six complete games this season, the most for a Wildcat pitcher in a single season since Lance Dickson in 1990. Of Heyer's six complete games, five came over the final eight Pac-12 weekends. In 2005, Arizona outfielder Trevor Crowewas a finalist for the award. In 1980, Terry Francona was the recipient of the Golden Spikes Award.
All-Conference: Arizona placed six players on the Pac-12's 25-member all-conference team announced this week. In addition to being named Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, shortstop Alex Mejia is joined by designated hitter Bobby Brown, outfielder Johnny Field, pitcher Kurt Heyer, third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean and outfielder Robert Refsnyder. The six players on the all-conference team matched UA's total from 2011, which was the most a Wildcat team had placed on the all-league list since 1993. Mejia and Refsnyder earned all-conference honors for the second year in a row, while Heyer became a three-time selection. Outfielder Joey Rickard, an all-conference pick as a sophomore, was named honorable mention.
Last At-Bat Wins: Seven of Arizona's 38 victories, including five of its 20 Pac-12 wins, have come with a rally in its final at-bat of game, but perhaps none bigger than the two in the final weekend of the regular season over rival Arizona State to secure the Wildcats a share of their first Pac-12 Championship since 1992. On May 25, the Wildcats and Devils were locked in perhaps the pitching duel of the year in the conference. UA's Kurt Heyer and ASU's Brady Rodgers had kept each side scoreless until the bottom of the ninth. That was when with one out Rodgers gave up a single to Robert Refsnyder, before Jake Barrett was called on to replace Rodgers. Seth Mejias-Brean ripped the second pitch he saw from Barrett for a double down the left field line. Refsnyder was given the stop sign to hold up at third base, but he ran through it and scored the winning run in a thrilling 1-0 victory. Two days later, after UA surrendered a 7-1 lead when ASU tied the game in the 8th, Johnny Fieldstepped to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with two outs and runners at the corners. He pulled a single into left field for another walk-off win over the rivals, this time securing the conference crown with the 8-7 decision. Here's a look at Arizona's seven final at-bat wins:
- March 7 vs. UC Davis (UA scores three runs in Bot. 8, wins 6-4)
- March 11 vs. E. Michigan (UA scores run in Bot. 9, wins 9-8 in walk-off fashion)
- March 24 @ Oregon St. (UA scores two runs in Top 9, wins 5-4)
- March 30 vs. Stanford (UA scores four runs in Bot 9, wins 8-7 in walk-off fashion)
- April 13 vs. UCLA (UA scores one run in Bot. 8, wins 4-3)
- May 25 vs. Arizona St. (UA scores run in Bot. 9, wins 1-0 in walk-off fashion)
- May 27 vs. Arizona St. (UA scores run in Bot. 9, wins 8-7 in walk-off fashion)
Going The Distance: Arizona pitchers have combined to throw 11 complete games this season, the most for the program in a single year since tossing 12 in 1990. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the 11 complete games are the most for a school from a major baseball conference. In fact, the 11 CG's were nearly as many as the teams in the ACC (12) and SEC (14) combined to throw in their respective leagues. Big 12 teams registered 38 CG's on the season, while the Big East had 39 and the Big 10 collected 43. Conference USA tallied 21, the Missouri Valley 32, and the WAC 17. Gonzaga, from the West Coast Conference, tossed 10 complete games, while UC Davis out of the West Coast Conference matched Arizona with 11 CGs.
Fearsome Foursome: Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickardhave combined to make 676 starts in 685 total games played. They have missed a combined seven games in their careers. It's been a very consistent a productive group that has helped guide the Wildcats to consecutive NCAA Regional appearances. Together they have accumulated 884 base hits and 515 runs scored, hitting .329 (884-2683) as a group.
4 X 200: Seth Mejias-Brean (202) surpassed the 200-hit milestone for his career on the final weekend of the regular season. The junior third baseman joins classmates Robert Refsnyder (230), Joey Rickard (228) and Alex Mejia(224) as four active players with 200 or more career hits. It's believed that such a feat has never happened before at the school. There are three notable teams that have boasted a trio of active 200-hit players, including in 1986 (Chip Hale, Gar Millay and Todd Trafton), 1989 (Alan Zinter, J.T. Snow and Greg Fowble) and 1993 (Robbie Moen, Willie Morales, John Tejcek). Some years have been followed by another player reaching 200 hits the next season, or vice versa.
Falling Behind: Arizona has developed a habit of falling behind early in games, something that has proven costly at times while other times simply serving as a wakeup call. Arizona has trailed at some point in 31 of its last 42 games (16-15 record when trailing) and in 36 of 55 on the season (19-17). A season ago, the Cats trailed during 38 of their 60 games played. They posted a 17-21 mark in those games.
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 the final weekend of the regular season when 14,055 fans came out to cheer on the Wildcats to a conference championship over three days against rival Arizona State. The Friday crowd on May 25 drew 5,451 fans, while Saturday saw a season-high 5,677 pass through the gates. It was Arizona's largest home crowd since May 25, 1980, when 7,002 fans watched Arizona defeat Gonzaga by a score of 8-5 at Wildcat Field (before it was named Sancet Field) in the championship game of the Tucson Regional en route to the school's second national championship. In 2012, Arizona drew 86,132 fans to its 35 regular season home games for an average of 2,460 per game. That average is the third-best in single season history at the school, behind the 1980 (3,256) and 1981 clubs (2,777). For comparison's sake, UA drew 36,412 fans at 33 home games (1,103 per game) a season ago on campus.
Cats At Home: Arizona has racked up 25-10 record at Hi Corbett Field this season. On their home turf, the Wildcats have hit .342 as a team, while opponents have hit .275. The Wildcats have scored an average of 7.4 runs per game compared to opponents' 5.1 per game. Johnny Field (.403), Alex Mejia (.382), Joseph Maggi (.380), Robert Refsnyder (.371) and Seth Mejias-Brean(.366) have all taken a special liking to the facility. The Wildcats have hit 73 doubles, 24 triples and six homers at home, while opponents have 57 doubles, 23 triples and seven round-trippers. Arizona's pitching staff has a 4.17 earned run average, but perhaps most impressively 251 strikeouts to just 88 walks.
Winning Weekends: Dating back to the final month of the 2011 regular season, Arizona has a 17-3 record in its last 20 three-game weekend series (13-2 this year). That stretch includes eight sweeps. In that span, the Wildcats are 6-1 in road series, including a 5-0 record in 2012. The only losses have been at Stanford in 2011, and at home against UCLA and Oregon in 2012. Including all games, the Wildcats have a 53-23 record over their last 75 games (.707). The club has racked up a 29-13 (.690) mark in Pac-10/12 games.
Pitching Lately: Arizona's pitching has been strong down the stretch, something it certainly hopes holds up this weekend and beyond. Over the last 15 Pac-12 games, the Wildcats went 10-5. The pitching staff threw five complete games, registered a 3.36 ERA (well below season 4.40 ERA), and limited opposing hitters to a .246 batting average (also below .261 season avg.). Included have been 94 strikeouts against only 45 walks in 136.2 innings.
Alive With Five: Five runs seems to be a pretty good breaking point for success for the Wildcats. In 2012, Arizona is 30-6 when it scores five or more runs in a game, while it has struggled to a 8-11 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 25-1. When opponents score five runs or more, UA has struggled at to a 13-16 clip.
Complete Games: Kurt Heyer's three consecutive complete games last month were more than UA had as a team in four of the six seasons prior to the season (2010, 2009, 2008 and 2006) ... Heyer's six complete games in 2012 are more than UA combined for as a team in a three-year stretch from 2008-10 ...The last UA pitcher to earn a victory in three consecutive complete game outings was RHP Troy Bradford at the end of the 1990 season ... Kurt Heyer (6), Konner Wade (3) and James Farris(2) have combined for 11 complete games. The last time three UA pitchers had 2+ complete games in a season was in 1989 (Scott Erickson - 14, Lance Dickson - 4 and Jim Richardson - 3) ... The Wildcats' 11 complete games in 2012 are the most for the program since throwing 12 in 1990 ... Combined with seven complete games a year ago, Arizona's 18 CG's the last two seasons are more than half of the 32 the school combined to throw in the first 11 years of the 21st century (2000-10).
Hitting 101: Arizona leads the Pac-12 and ranks No. 5 nationally with a .325 team batting average entering the postseason ... The Wildcats have seven regulars (min. 100 at bats) batting .310 or better ... Five players rank in the top-10 of the conference for individual batting, led by Johnny Field's .league-best .379 clip ... UA has collected 10+ hits in a game 40 times this season, including in 22 of the last 29 contests ... The Wildcats are 34-4 when out-hitting opponents in games this season and 1-12 when opponents outhit the Wildcats (3-1 when hits are tied) ... Nine players have at least 10 multi-hit games in 2012 ... Five players have had an 11+ game hitting streak, including Seth Mejias-Brean'steam-high 21-game streak earlier this year.
Leaders of the Pac: Arizona finished the season as the top offensive team in the Pac-12 in several categories, including batting average (.325), runs scored (390), hits (625), RBI (351), triples (29), total bases (849) and sacrifice flies (36). The Wildcats ranked No. 2 in slugging (.441), on-base percentage (.394), stolen bases (73) and finished with the second-fewest strikeouts (262). Pitching-wise, UA hurlers struck out the second-most hitters and issued the third-fewest walks.
May Days: Arizona entered the month of May firmly in hunt for the Pac-12 Championship, but they faced a challenging road to get there. The month opened with a series against then-league-leader Oregon, before the Wildcats hit the road for a season-long seven-game road trip. They then were set to face rival and top-20 foe Arizona State in the regular season finale. Through it all, Arizona went 9-4 during the month and captured a Pac-12 Co-Championship with UCLA. The Wildcats hit below their season average with a .286 average, but they fielded at a .984 clip and committed just eight errors while opponents committed 24. Arizona's pitching staff registered a 3.49 earned run average and limited opposing hitters to a .247 average, both below season marks. Now what does June have in store?
30 Wins: Arizona has reached the 30-win plateau for the sixth straight season and for the 10th time in Andy Lopez's11 seasons at the school. The last Wildcat club to miss the 30-win mark was 2006 team, which finished 27-28 and is one of just two Lopez-coached squads to miss postseason play in the last nine years. A year ago, the Wildcats finished 39-21, their best record since going 42-19 in 2008. Lopez coached the Wildcats to back-to-back 40-win seasons in 2007 and 2008.
2005 UA-Missouri Flashback: The last time the Wildcats and Tigers met on the diamond was at the 2005 Fullerton Regional on June 3. That year, Arizona edged Missouri, 5-3, in the opening game of the tournament. The interesting fact, though, is that a total of seven (7) future Major Leaguers played in the game. Missouri's Max Scherzer (Tigers, Diamondbacks) took the loss in the game, allowing five earned runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and three walks in 6.0 innings. The Wildcats starting lineup featured four future pros, including left fielder Trevor Crowe (Indians), first baseman Jordan Brown (Indians), catcher Nick Hundley (Padres) and shortstop Jason Donald (Indians). Arizona starting pitcher John Meloan (A's, Indians, Dodgers) collected his 10th win of the season and turned the game over to Mark Melancon(Yankees, Astros, Red Sox), who picked up his 10 save of the year.
2012 UA-NM State Recap: The Wildcats dropped their first mid-week series of the season, losing two games to New Mexico State March 20-21... UA was unable to put the Aggies away early in Tuesday's ballgame and squandered a 4-3 lead in the late stages highlighted by three errors in the eighth inning that helped NM State score the final four runs of the game in a 7-4 victory ... On Wednesday, UA's staff issued a season-high nine walks and hit three batters as the Aggies held off UA 13-8 ... NM State outhit UA .333-.288 to go with a 20-12 advantage in runs scored ... UA's four juniors in the lineup (Rickard, Mejia, Refsnyder and Mejias-Brean) each had three hits in the series, while senior Bobby Brown had a pair of doubles off the bench on Wednesday ... The UA staff struck out 18 over the two games, but walked 15.