What to Watch For on Saturday
- Arizona will look to win its opening two games in a regional for a third straight postseason (UA defeated Kent State in Game 2 in 2004 and Cal State Fullerton in 2005).
- Arizona left-hander Brad Mills (9-4, 4.09 ERA) will be making his first start since May 5 against UNO on Saturday.
- The Arizona pitching staff, which leads the Pacific-10 Conference with 508 strikeouts this season, has punched out 10 or more batters in a contest 22 times, including the last three consecutive games
- Arizona’s bullpen has converted all 14 save chances this season and is 17-for-17 dating back to last season.
- Arizona is just one save shy of moving into a five-way tie for third on the school’s all-time team list.
- Arizona’s error-free game on Friday snapped a four-game streak in which the Wildcats had committed at least one error. Friday’s contest was the 17th of the year in which UA did not commit a defensive miscue.
- Bill Rhinehart (13 games), Colt Sedbrook (8) and C.J. Ziegler (6) are all looking to extend their hitting streaks.
What Better Time Than Now?
Arizona and New Orleans have never met, let alone in the postseason. The Wildcats have never faced a school that calls the Sun Belt Conference home either.
Arizona-New Orleans Common Opponents
The Wildcats and Privateers have not faced any of the same opponents this season.
Better Late Than Never
Including Friday’s contest, Arizona has scored 28 of its 42 combined runs in its last six consecutive games in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning (67%).
It’s a Very Pretty Shade of Beige
Saturday’s contest against UNO will be just the third of the year for the Arizona on a neutral field. The Cats are 2-0 in a neutral setting this season, having defeated rival Arizona State, 6-5, at Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks) in Phoenix on March 28 and Oral Roberts, 4-3, on Friday.
Arizona’s 508 Ks this season marks just the fourth time a UA club has gone over 500 in a season. Only the school record-holding 2005 club (554) and the 1956 and 1963 teams (tied at 540) have rung up more batters.
Keeping Them Down
After defeating Oral Roberts 4-3 on Friday, Arizona is 27-0 this year when holding an opponent to three or less runs in a contest.
Highlighted by a two-inning, five-strikeout performance by closer Jason Stoffel on Friday, the Wildcats are 35-0 when leading after seven innings and 36-0 when taking a lead into the ninth.
Arizona to Open
Including Friday’s 4-3 win over Oral Roberts, the Cats are 3-1 in postseason opening games in four years under head coach Andy Lopez and have won their last three straight ... Dating back to 1950 UA is 18-15 all-time in its first postseason contest of the year.
Winning the Close Ones
Arizona’s 4-3 victory over ORU on Friday improved it to 11-2 for the year in games decided by just one run.
Close in the Postseason
Arizona recent postseason successes have been close affairs. Dating back to UA’s last NCAA appearance in 2005, and including Friday’s win over ORU, the Cats’ last three NCAA wins have been decided by two or fewer runs (5-3 vs. Missouri in ’05, 6-5 vs. Cal State Fullerton and 4-3 over ORU on Friday) ... During UA’s run to the College World Series in 2004, the Wildcats won their last three games leading up to Omaha by just one run (7-6 at Notre Dame in the South Bend Regional and 6-5 and 4-3 wins over Long Beach State in the Long Beach Super Regional).
Saturday’s Starter Brad Mills
As noted above, senior left-hander Brad Mills (9-4) will be making his first start in nearly a month after a muscle pull/soft tissue issue in his back sidelined him for three weeks in May ... He has worked two relief appearances since his last start (vs. Washington and at Arizona State) ... Mills is currently second on the team in both wins (9) and strikeouts (84) ... In 13 starts this season, Mills has gone five or more innings in 12 of them and seven or more frames four times ... He has struck out a career-high 10 hitters in a game twice (vs. Eastern Michigan and Northern Colorado) and has issued two or fewer walks in nine of 13 starts ... He tossed his first career complete game at Stanford on April 14, finishing the 15-1 UA victory with a seven-hitter ... A civil engineering major with a 3.23 ERA, Mills is a member of the 2007 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 8 team and is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
Preston Presses on
Right-hander Preston Guilmet (12-2, 1.89ERA) struck out 11 ORU batters on Friday to improve his season total to 144 for the year. The K total not only leads the Pac-10 Conference this season, but is also the sixth-most strikeouts in a single season in school history and the most for any UA pitcher in the last 44 years (Jim Nichols, 145 in 1963).