Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Baseball Heads to No. 15 Mississippi State
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 08, 2006
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Potential Starting Lineup





Brad Boyer



Fourth in Pac-10 with 21 runs scored


Jason Donald



Fifth in Pac-10 with 18 RBI


Eric Berger



Batting .318 with 10 RBI in seven starts at DH


Brad Glenn



Has four multi-hit games this season


Konrad Schmidt



Threw out four of eight would be base stealers last week


Jon Gaston



Hit his second HR of the season last week at Minnesota


T.J. Steele



Has two bases-loaded hits this season 


Bill Rhinehart



Will take over for injured Derek Decater in OF


Colt Sedbrook



Has been hit by a Pac-10-high 12 pitches this year






Eric Berger



Won his third game of the season vs. Minnesota last week


Preston Guilmet



Has gone seven innings in both starts


Brad Mills



Tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings vs. Notre Dame last week


Mark Melancon



Has not given up an earned run out of the pen this year


Last Week

Arizona went on the road to the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome in Minneapolis and returned with a pair of wins and a loss ... The Wildcats defeated Minnesota 7-2 on Friday, lost to No. 11 Nebraska 3-1 on Saturday and beat Notre Dame 2-0 in 10 innings on Sunday ... The Wildcat pitching staff put together an impressive weekend, posting a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings pitched and struck out 30 batters against 10 walks ... The offense faced a number of impressive arms in Metrodome and batted just .163 in three games ... The Wildcats averaged 3.3 runs per game during the weekend.


A Quick Look at Mississippi State

The Bulldogs enter the week of play with a No. 15 ranking in the latest Sports Weekly/USAToday Coaches Poll ... Undefeated at 7-0, MSU will face La.-Monroe on Wednesday before hosting the Wildcats for three games at Dudy-Noble Field ... MSU brings back a veteran squad with 15 of the 21 players that suited up as starters in 2005 returning for 2006 ... As a team, MSU is batting .298 and averaging 6.7 runs per game thus far ... Senior Thomas Berkery leads the way offensively for the Bulldogs during the early-going. The infielder entered the week with a .435 batting average and a team-high eight runs scored in six games. Last season, Berkery led MSU with 55 RBI and seven HR while batting .302 ... On the mound, the Bulldogs boast a 2.00 team ERA and 55 strikeouts against just nine walks ... Arizona will face starters LHP Brooks Dunn (2-0, 3.00) on Fri., RHP Josh Johnson (2-0, 1.46) on Sat. and RHP John Lalor (2-0, 2.13) on Sun. during the weekend ... The three pitchers have earned six wins of seven wins for MSU this season ... The Bulldogs are led by Ron Polk, who has amassed a 1,047-512-2 record in Starkville.


The History

Arizona and Mississippi State have met up for eight games since 1978 with the Bulldogs owning a 5-3 overall advantage ... UA defeated MSU two games to one in Tucson last season ... The only other meetings between the two schools came in 1978 and 1981.


Last Season

The Wildcats took two of three from the visiting Bulldogs in Tucson last March ... Arizona won the first two games of the series 9-3 and 7-3, but missed out on the sweep after falling 13-12 on Sunday.


Ron Polk-Arizona Connections

Mississippi State head coach Ron Polk spent one season as the graduate assistant coach at Arizona. The Bulldog skipper served under Frank Sancet during the Wildcats’ 1966 College World Series season and he earned his master’s degree from UA in that same year.


Lopez vs. Mississippi State

Arizona head coach Andy Lopez is familiar with the Bulldogs and playing Starkville. As the head coach at Florida, Lopez faced SEC foe MSU 26 times and posted a 19-7 record against the Bulldogs. In three trips to Starkville with the Gators (1997, ?'98 and 2000), Lopez’s Florida squads went 5-4, including a three-game sweep in 1997.


Three-Plus-Three = Two

Two of the three head coaches to take three different schools to the College World Series will square off against each other this weekend - Mississippi State’s Ron Polk and Arizona’s Andy Lopez. Polk took Georgia Southern to the CWS in 1973, Georgia in 2001 and has brought MSU to Omaha five different times (1979, ?'81, ?'85, ?'90 and ?'97). Lopez, who won the national championship in 1992 while at Pepperdine, twice took Florida to the CWS (1996, ?'98) and most recently the Wildcats in 2004. Larry Cochell is the only other skipper in Division I history to take three different schools to the CWS.


Offensive Numbers

A slew of impressive pitching put a dent in Arizona’s offense last weekend at the Dairy Queen Classic ... The Wildcats will head to Starkville, Miss., with a .295 team batting average and an average of 7.3 runs, 10 hits, 1.9 doubles and 6.7 RBI per game ... Arizona leads the Pac-10 in triples (13) and hit by pitch (38) and is in the middle of the conference in nearly every other offensive category ... Individually, shortstop Jason Donald is fifth in the conference in RBI (18) and eighth in slugging (.627), while senior Brad Boyer is fourth in runs scored (21) and second in stolen bases (10) ... Helped by a Pac-10-high 12 HBP, sophomore Colt Sedbrook is sixth in the Pac-10 in on-base percentage (.500).


Pitching Numbers

After a rough start, the Arizona pitching staff has picked up its game to a level that was expected at the beginning of the year ... Back-to-back impressive weekends on the mound has lowered the staff ERA from 5.85 to its current 4.20 ... The Wildcats have consistently thrown strikes over the course of the first 15 games, which has led to 149 punchouts - second-best in the Pac-10 ... Arizona has issued just 47 walks thus far, the third-fewest in the Pac-10 


All-Dairy Queen Classic Team

Arizona found a pair of players on the All-Dairy Queen Classic team last weekend. Reliever Mark Melancon and third baseman Colt Sedbrook were both feted with honors after helping to lead the Wildcats to a 2-1 record at the Metrodome. Melancon picked up his second save and his third win of the season in two appearances on the mound. He finished the weekend with nine strikeouts and three walks in 81/3 innings pitched and did not give up a run. Sedbrook, who was hit by a DQ Classic five pitches in three games, batted .333 with two runs scored and had an on-base percentage of .667.


Melancon Mows ?'Em Down

Wildcat closer Mark Melancon has been nearly untouchable out of the bullpen this season. Having not surrendered an earned run in relief this season, the right-hander currently leads the Wildcats with an impressive 1.69 ERA (third-best in the Pac-10). Out of the pen, Melancon has struck out 26 batters and walked only four in 21 2/3 innings pitched. As the closer, opponents are hitting just .153 against him. The “as the closer” qualifier must be used, because in his one start this season the junior surrendered a career-high six runs on five hits to New Mexico, and thus his return to the bullpen.

Melancon Starting vs. Relief Numbers This Season

Starting (1 start)

0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, .333 Opp BA

Relief (6 app)

3-0, 0.00 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 11 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 26 K, .153 Opp BA


Not Your Typical Closer

As noted above, Mark Melancon has posted some very nice numbers out of the bullpen in the early going for Arizona. What makes them even more impressive is that the junior is not a typical one inning closer. In six relief appearances, the right-hander has gone two or more innings all six times, and has pitched three or more innings in five of six.. Last weekend’s trip to Minneapolis proved the value to Arizona of his ability to go longer in games. Clinging to a 4-2 lead with the tying runs on base in the sixth inning against Minnesota last Friday, Melancon entered and ended the Gopher threat with a pair of strikeouts and then held them scoreless over the final three innings in an eventual 7-2 Arizona win. Two days later, Melancon entered a 0-0 game with Notre Dame and held the Fighting Irish scoreless over the final 4 2/3 innings, which allowed the Wildcat offense to pull off a 2-0, 10-inning victory despite getting out-hit 10 to 4 in the game.


Starters Starting To Step Up

In the first nine games of the 2006 season, the Arizona starting staff was roughed up for a 6.92 ERA and pitched just 40 1/3 of a possible 80 innings during that stretch (50%). The last two weeks has seen a dramatic turnaround as the starters have posted a 2.06 ERA over the last six games and worked 35 of a possible 55 innings (64%).

Starters First Nine vs. Last Six

First Nine

2-4, 6.92 ERA, 40 1/3 IP, 62 H, 42 R, 31 ER, 12 BB, 36 K

Last Six

3-1, 2.06 ERA, 35 IP, 28 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 12 BB, 46 K


Preston’s Pitch

One reason for the turnaround of the starting staff has been freshman right-hander Preston Guilmet. The right-hander moved into the weekend rotation on Feb. 26 and has made an impression in two career starts. Starting against La Salle and No .11 Nebraska, Guilmet has gone seven innings in both starts and given up a combined three runs on 12 hits, while striking out 15 and walking only two. His 1.93 ERA as a starter has lowered his season average over two points to its current 3.47.

Guilmet Relief vs. Starting Numbers

Relief (4 app)

0-0, 5.79 ERA, 9 1/3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 14 K, .243 Opp BA

Starting (2 starts)

1-1, 1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 15 K, .226 Opp BA


A Not So Normal Sundays

Junior Brad Mills has played a major role in a college baseball rarity the last two weekends, the quick Sunday game. The lone walkon survivor from 2004, the junior southpaw helped beat La Salle 3-2 on Feb. 27 in two hours and 37 minutes and then aided in a three hour and 15 minute, 2-0 10-inning win over Notre Dame last Sunday. During the two-game stretch, Mills is 0-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 IP. He has helped moved the pace along with 15 Ks and only two walks.


Taking a Dose

Maybe an orange safety vest should be required for the Arizona hitters this season. Opponent pitchers are averaging 2.5 hit batters per game through 15 contests this year. Should the Wildcat opposition keep plunking batters at such a rate, Arizona will end up crushing the 2002 school record of 69 hit batters set in 55 games (1.3/game). With the current average, Arizona is on pace for 140 HBP in the regular season and would break its single season record in just its 28th game.

        Individually, sophomore Colt Sedbrook has been plunked by a Pac-10-high 12 pitches in 15 games this season and is just five HBP away from tying teammate Jason Donald’s single season record of 19 set last season.



Getting plunked in back-to-back ABs against La Salle on Feb. 25 moved junior Jason Donald past Kenny Corley for the top spot on the all-time HBP list at Arizona. Donald, who was hit by 10 pitches his freshman season and by 19 last year, has been hit by four pitches in 12 games this season for an all-time high of 33. To put Donald’s record-breaking wayward pitch magnetism in perspective, Corley’s former record of 32 was set in 201 games played over four seasons (1995-98). Donald’s 33 HBP have happened in two-plus seasons and just 135 games played.


Helping Hand

When not taking the mound as the Friday starter, left-hander Eric Berger has helped his pitching staffmates as the DH. Starting seven games in the batting order, Berger has  found more than a little success. In 22 at-bats this season, the sophomore has seven hits, four doubles, three runs scored and a very impressive 10 RBI.


Leading it Off

Senior Brad Boyer has provided a spark for the Wildcat offense out of the leadoff spot in the batting order. Moving back to the top of the order for the first time since his freshman season of 2003, Boyer is posting numbers similar though the first 15 games this season to those he put up his first year in Tucson. Boyer broke five freshman school records and became the first frosh player at Arizona to be named to t

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