Feb. 11, 2002
Next Up - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: The Islanders have a 4-1 record entering the week and will play at Texas on Tuesday before meeting up with the Wildcats on Wednesday. Corpus Christi, playing in Division I as an independent, finished the 2001 season with 18-36 overall The TAMU-CC program is just in its third, but have been a regular Arizona opponent during that time. The Wildcats own a 4-0 record against the Islanders all-time, including a 3-0 series sweep in Tucson last season.
Pitching Probable vs. Texas A&M-CC Wednesday - Will Miller (0-0, 18.00 ERA)
Texas A&M: The 30th-ranked Aggies head into the week with a 2-1 record having opened their season last weekend with victories over No. 11 Rice and Louisana-Lafayette, before falling to Houston, 2-1, at Enron Field in Houston. A&M will face Southwest Texas State on Tuesday before matching up with the Wildcats for a three game series Friday-Sunday. The Aggies return 24 letterwinners, including eight starters and 13 pitchers, from the 2001 team that finished 33-27 overall and 15-15 in the Big XII. Arizona took the series lead with a three-game sweep in Tucson last season and now hold a 18-16-1 advantage in the all-time series. Aggie Head Coach Mark Johnson was an assistant at Arizona (1972-76) under legendary Wildcat skipper Jerry Kindall. He was a part of the coaching staff that helped Arizona win the 1976 National Championship.
Pitching Probables vs. Texas A&M Friday - Sean Rierson (3-0, 0.78 ERA) Saturday - Joe Little (3-0, 2.70 ERA) Sunday - Marc Kaiser (2-0, 3.15 ERA)
Return To Rankings: The Arizona baseball team returned from a nearly two year absence from the collegiate baseball rankings this week. Off to a 10-1 start, the Wildcats were placed 23rd in the Baseball America rankings, 26th in the Collegiate Baseball poll and 20th in Baseball Weekly/ESPN. Arizona's last national ranking came on Feb. 28, 2000 when they were No.25 in Baseball America's poll.
Notes From the San Diego State Series: Arizona's win over the Aztecs last Thursday was the first 1-0 victory in nearly 10 years (Feb. 28, 1992 at USC) ... The two hour, six minute game was the shortest nine inning game since April 14, 2000 against Oregon State (2:04) ... Mosies Duran's ninth inning, walk-off home run in the series opener was just Arizona's fifth hit in the game ... However, three of Arizona's five hits on Thursday went for extra bases (a double, a triple, and the game winning homer) ... Joe Little's career-high 10 strikeouts in Friday's game were the most for a Wildcat pitcher since Ben Diggins struck out 13 in 2000 ... Arizona committed a season-high four errors in Saturday's 7-5 win ... Arizona pitching limited SDSU to a .220 batting average in the three game series while striking out 26 Aztec hitters.
Rierson's Rampage: Ask the last six opponents that have faced Arizona starter Sean Rierson what they think of him and they might be at a loss for a reply. Dating back to his last three starts in the 2001 season, plus three this season and the sophomore right-hander has befuddled opposition hitters to the tune of a 6-0 record, a 1.37 ERA, 26 K's and only four walks in 45.2 innings pitched. He has been equally impressive on the road (2-0 at Arizona State and Stanford) as at home (4-0 vs. Washington, New Mexico, Utah and San Diego State). Last Thursday, against SDSU, he tossed Arizona's first complete game shutout in nearly five seasons when he blanked the Aztecs, 1-0, on just five hits. He struck out a career-high nine hitters (six looking) in the game and walked none to pick up his third win of the season. For the 2002 season he is 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA, 17 punchouts and only two walks.
Joe Knows: Sophomore left-hander Joe Little knows all about winning. Now in his second season with Arizona, the southpaw owns a career 7-0 record on mound. In 24 career appearances as a reliever and now as a starter, Little has never tasted defeat with Arizona. He is 4-0 as a starter, including 3-0 this season. He has 52 strikeouts against only 18 walks in 70.1 career innings pitched and set a single game career-high in K's (10) this season alone.
Stringing Them Together: Freshman catcher/designated hitter Richard Mercado has played in eight games thus far in his Arizona career. In those eight games the newcomer has collected at least one hit in each one of them for a team-best hitting streak. The Wildcats' leading hitter thus far, Mercado is batting at a .483 clip this season, including a 4-for-5 performance in his last outing against San Diego State
The Unofficial Mountain West Champs: Arizona has played three of the top four schools from 2001 in the Mountian West Conference (New Mexico, Utah and San Diego State) this season and have tallied an 8-1 record in nine games against them. The Wildcats swept New Mexico (third in the MWC in 2001) and San Diego State (2002 preseason favorties to win the conference after finishing second last season) and took two of three from Utah (tied with New Mexico for third last season). In its lone defeat, Arizona managed to force the game into extra innings with the Utes with a ninth inning run to tie the score.
Taking The Extra Base: In Arizona's 11 games this season the Wildcats have tallied 98 total hits. Of those 98 hits, 41 of them (or 42 percent) have gone for extra bases. Arizona has already recorded 22 doubles, seven triples and 12 home runs this season.
Muscling Up: With the loss of 89 percent of the home runs (48 of 54) and 65 percent of the RBIs (253 of 387) from lastseason, many would think that Arizona's power would be on the decline. The many would be wrong. The Wildcats' power numbers are in fact up through the first 11 games of the season. Shelley Duncan and Co. had tallied 11 home runs, a .430 slugging percentage, 18 doubles, three triples and 67 RBIs in their first 10 games last season against Hawaii-Hilo, BYU, St. Mary's and Long Beach State. Paced by a balanced power surge, the 2002 Wildcats have recorded 12 four baggers, a .486 slugging percentage, 20 doubles, seven triples and 83 RBIs in 11 games against New Mexico, Utah, Southern Utah and San Diego State.
Manufacturing, Inc.: Despite what the previous note indicates, with the loss of much of the offensive firepower from last season, the Wildcats are also looking to find a way to score runs any way possible. Arizona has scored a total 98 runs this season and amazingly 32 (33 percent) of them have come without Arizona recording a hit to score the run. The Wildcats have manufactured runs via ground ball outs to the left side of the infield, wild pitches, walks, sacrifice flies, straight steals and even batters being hit by pitches.
Game-By-Game Breakdown of Runs Scored Without a Hit 1/25 vs. New Mexico 5 of 6 1/26 vs. New Mexico 7 of 23 1/27 vs. New Mexico 0 of 8 2/1 vs. Utah 2 of 3 2/2 vs. Utah 3 of 17 2/3 vs. Utah 2 of 5 2/4 vs. Southern Utah 6 of 10 2/5 vs. Southern Utah 3 of 11 2/7 vs. San Diego State 0 of 1 2/8 vs. San Diego State 1 of 6 2/9 vs. San Diego State 2 of 7
Pitching In: The Arizona pitching staff has been impressive thus far. In addition to Sean Rierson and Joe Little's hot starts (see notes above), the Wildcat hurlers have kept runners off base and away from home. The staff has allowed only 36 runs in 11 games this season (3.27 rpg), of which only 29 have been earned. They have dominated opposing batters with accurate control (85 strikeouts, only 23 walks in 100 innings pitched), while limiting them to a lowly .239 batting average. The team ERA of 2.61 is complimented by opponent's meager .289 on-base percentage and .303 slugging. The primary starters (Rierson, Little and Kaiser) are helping to keep the relievers fresh by averaging seven innings per start, and the bullpen has come on to continue where the starters have leftoff (3-for-3 in saves,34 K's-9 BB's).
Wearin' It: It's painful to be a Wildcat batter early in 2002. Opposing pitchers have plunked Wildcat hitters 17 times already in just 11 games (1.55 HBP per game). In comparison, last year Arizona batters were hit 35 times in 56 games (0.63 HBP per game). Marc Kaiser might want to consider wearing body armor as he has been tagged a team-high five times already.
Getting Back Into It: Before senior catcher Chris Cunningham went down with an injury halfway through his sophmore season he was enjoying success at the plate. Prior to his wrist injury in 2000, Cunningham was hitting .294 with 10 runs scored in 22 games. After seeing limited playing time his junior season, five hits in just 23 at bats, he has re-energized this season. Starting eight games at catcher and three at first base, he is Arizona's offensive go to guy in the clean up spot. He leads the team in runs scored (15), doubles (5), total bases (25), slugging (.694) and RBIs (14). He hit his first home run in exactly two years against Southern Utah on Feb. 4 and added another a day later against the Thundebirds.
Freshman Contributions: The newest group of Wildcats have already made their pressance felt in the Arizona lineup. Leading hitter Richard Mercado highlights the group of freshman making a difference for Arizona this season. Joining is third baseman John Hardy. Already with a grand slam to his name, Hardy is second on the team in hits (13) and RBIs (13). Classmate Jeff Van Houten has filled in admirably for the injured Brian Anderson in the outfield. In seven starts and two games as a reserve Van Houten is hitting .286 with a pair of doubles and team-high three home runs.
Having A Grand Time: John Hardy's first career home run on Saturday came with the bases loaded and was the second grand slam of the season for the Wildcats. Hardy and Moises Duran's slams mark the first time since 1999 that an Arizona team has had two or more bases loaded home runs in a season. The '99 team shares the school record for slams in a season with six other squads. Arizona's 1955, '56, '61, '88, '93 and '98 teams all hit four grand slams in a season. Former Wildcat Dave Shermet holds the all-time individual career grand slam record with four.
Looking For Win No. 700: When Andy Lopez signed on with the Wildcats last summer he had accumulated 687 wins in 19 seasons as head coach at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine and Florida. Arizona's 10 victories thus far in 2002 have moved him three wins shy of his 700th as a head coach.
Arizona-Arizona State Game To Be Televised: The Pac-10 Conference Office announced this week that the March 23 game between Arizona and ASU will be shown live on Fox Sports Net. The time of the game has been changed from its originally scheduled 1 p.m. first pitch to 2 p.m. to accommodate TV. The game is one of just four Pac-10 games to be televised on Fox Sports Net this season.
Frank Sancet Field: Located on the corners of Enke and National Championship Drives, Frank Sancet Field has been the home of Arizona baseball for over 35 seasons. Know originally as Wildcat Field, it was renamed and dedicated Frank Sancet Field on April 19, 1986 to honor Arizona's longtime head coach. Coach Sancet put Arizona on the collegiate baseball map, posting a 831-283-8 (.744) record in 23 seasons as head coach. His Wildcat teams made 16 postseason appearances during his tenure and nine trips to Omaha. He finished runner-up at the College World Series three times. Since moving to its current location, the Arizona baseball team has gone 892-386-3 in 1,279 games for a .698 winning percentage (Current through 2/9/02). The Wildcats have suffered only three losing seasons on their home turf and nearly reach perfection in former head coach Jerry Kindall's second season with a 37-1 home record. Frank Sancet Field has been the site of four NCAA Regionals (1979, '80, '89, '92).
Arizona Player Career Stats vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Through 2/12/02) Hitter G BA AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB SB Marc Kaiser 1 .750 4 3 3 1 0 1 0 0 1 Brad Hassey 4 .692 13 11 9 3 1 1 0 4 3 Justyn St. Clair 2 .333 3 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 Moises Duran 3 .222 9 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 Chris Cunningham 2 .167 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 Pitcher G GS W-L Sv. IP H R ER BB K ERA Chris Goodman 1 1 1-0 0 5.0 1 0 0 0 4 0.00 Kevin Rupprecht 1 0 0-0 0 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0.00 Marc Kaiser 1 1 1-0 0 6.0 5 6 2 3 3 3.00 Sean Rierson 1 1 0-0 0 4.2 5 7 3 2 2 5.79 Tony Sulser 1 0 0-0 0 2.1 5 3 3 1 3 11.57
Arizona Player Career Stats vs. Texas A&M (Through 2/12/02) Hitter G BA AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB SB Ken Riley 4 .417 12 6 5 3 0 0 0 1 2 Justyn St. Clair 3 .375 8 3 3 2 1 0 0 1 0 Brad Hassey 5 .333 15 4 5 4 0 0 0 4 0 Moises Duran 1 .000 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Greg Powers 1 .000 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Pitcher G GS W-L Sv. IP H R ER BB K ERA Tony Sulser 1 0 0-0 0 1.2 0 0 0 0 1 0.00 Joe Little 1 0 1-0 0 5.2 4 2 2 0 5 3.18 Marc Kaiser 1 1 1-0 0 5.2 6 4 3 4 3 4.76 Sean Rierson 1 1 0-0 0 4.1 8 5 5 2 3 10.38 Chris Goodman 1 1 0-0 0 2.1 5 3 3 1 2 11.57