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Cats, Ducks Battle For Top Spot In Pac-12
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 05/03/2012
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May 3, 2012

2012 Arizona Baseball
May 4-6, 2012  |  Tucson, Ariz.  |  Hi Corbett Field
No. 10 Oregon Ducks (32-13, 14-7 Pac-12) @ No. 11 Arizona Wildcats (26-13, 12-6 Pac-12)

Friday, May 4  •  6 p.m. (MST)  •  Hi Corbett Field •  UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Alex Keudell (7-3, 1.87) vs. RHP Kurt Heyer (8-1, 2.42)

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Saturday, May 5  •  6 p.m. (MST)  •  Hi Corbett Field •  UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Jake Reed  (5-2, 2.26) vs. RHP Konner Wade (6-1, 3.83)

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Sunday, May 6  •  Noon (MST)  •  Hi Corbett Field •  UA Radio: 1290 AM
TBA vs. RHP James Farris (5-2, 4.61)

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Some Series ThemesQuick Links
An old-fashioned No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on the diamond, with host Arizona trailing visiting Oregon by one-half game in the Pac-12 standings ... A classic statistical showdown between the league's top hitting team (Arizona) and the staff with the lowest opposing batting average (Oregon) ... Two "small ball" offensive philosophies in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, so advancing runners likely will be a premium, as will those timely hits to drive them in ... Ducks bring with them a five-game winning streak, while the Cats have claimed three in a row ... Long-time UA assistant coach Mark Wasikowski makes his return against a club he was instrumental in recruiting to Tucson ... Does that offer any advantage one or the other in terms of player tendencies and scouting reports? ... Another big time Friday night duel between two veteran staff aces in OU's Alex Keudell and UA's Kurt Heyer ... Two clubs not afraid to swipe bases (116 combined) ... A strong Ducks' defensive unit against a rapidly improving Wildcat nine that looks to continue limiting mistakes ... The final month of the regular season is upon us, with some decisive games remaining.Baseball America Rankings
Game Notes (PDF)
Season Statistics (PDF)
Schedule/Results
2012 Media Guide
Pac-12 Standings
Oregon vs. Arizona Statistical Comparison Arizona Statistical Leaders
OregonStat Arizona Stat Player
32-13 (14-7 Pac-12)Record 29-13 (12-6 Pac-12)Avg. Seth Mejias-Brean (.391)
.261Avg. .336Hits Alex Mejia (68)
216Runs 315Runs Johnny Field (45)
388Hits 499RBI Robert Refsnyder (46)
732B 962B Seth Mejias-Brean (15)
143B24HR Robert Refsnyder (4)
22HR 11OB% Johnny Field (.470)
55-87SB-ATT 61-89SLG% Robert Refsnyder (.583)
.351OB% .398SB Robert Refsnyder (11)
.373SLG% .455ERA Kurt Heyer (2.42)
3.74ERA 4.21IP Kurt Heyer (85.2)
276 K's 307K's  Konner Wade (73)
Arizona Baseball Game Notes:


Leading Off:
- Arizona's .336 batting average ranks No. 3 in the nation.
- UA averages 7.5 runs per game, 10th-best nationally.
- Seth Mejias-Brean's .391 average leads all Pac-12 players.
- Kurt Heyer's eight wins this year ranks tied for fifth-most in the country.
- The Cats rank No. 14 in the nation with 96 doubles and No. 5 with 24 triples, boosting the slugging percentage to .455 (16th in Division I).
- UA pitchers have amassed a 2.72 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 20th-best in Division I.
- UA's staff has thrown a Pac-12-leading eight complete games.
- Bobby Brown ranks ninth nationally and leads the Pac-12 with six triples.
- Brown has hit safely in 18 of the last 19 games (.410 average).
- Johnny Field is hitting .538 (14-for-26) with eight extra base hits, nine runs and 11 RBI in the last six games.
- The Wildcats are one extra base hit shy of Stanford and ASU for most in the conference.
- Seven UA players are hitting .300 or better (min. 90 at bats).
- Konner Wade and Kurt Heyer each rank in the top-four for strikeouts and top-seven for wins in the Pac-12.
- UA has won 10 of 11 weekend series in 2012, and 14 of 16 dating back to the final month of 2011.
- The Cats are 44-19 overall and 21-9 in the Pac-10/12 since dropping 2-of-3 at Oregon last April.

Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez: The Wildcats are coached by Andy Lopez, who is now in his 11th season with a 384-242-1 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 1,071-660-7 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.

UA-ETSU Recap: The Wildcats posted a pair of football scores that Rich Rodriguez and Co. would have been proud of in 24-7 and 21-6 bookend victories over East Tennessee State last weekend. A more closely contested middle game was won 6-4 as UA swept its fourth weekend series of the season ... Some statistical offensive numbers are a bit mind-blowing, starting with 65 total base hits for a .504 team batting average ... Extra base hits were aplenty as well, with the Wildcats collecting 12 doubles, nine triples and a home run ... The series opener on Friday night saw an NCAA record-tying seven combined triples (UA 6, ETSU 1) that last happened in 1992 in a game between Houston and McNeese State. Incidentally, Houston hit all seven triples in that one, which left UA's six triples one shy of a single game record, but still the school's top mark ... Bobby Brown led the offensive assault with a 9-for-12 weekend that including a double, two triples, a home run, six runs scored and nine RBI, plus three stolen bases ... Johnny Field gave him a run for his money with an 11-for-15 weekend at the plate, including four doubles, two triples, six runs and seven RBI ... In all, eight Wildcats had at least five hits over the weekend as UA outscored the Buccaneers 51-17 ... UA starters Kurt Heyer (7.2 IP, 9 SO, 1 BB), Konner Wade (7.1 IP, 7 SO, 1 BB) and James Farris (6.0 IP, 5 SO, 0 BB) each earned wins on the mound ... Friday's win was Arizona's 2,600th all-time victory, eighth-most in NCAA Division I history.

Message Received: Last April, Arizona dropped 2-of-3 games at Oregon in advance of Easter Sunday. The Wildcats lone win came behind a brilliant pitching performance by Kyle Simon, who threw a complete game three-hitter in one hour and 52 minutes. Otherwise, it was a forgettable weekend for a UA club that fell to 4-8 over its last 12 games and was struggling at 6-9 in the Pac-10. To boot, the Wildcats had to bus to Portland and stay over night before an Easter morning flight back home. Head coach Andy Lopez booked a ballroom at the Portland-area hotel to chat with his team. What was planned to be a 30-minute meeting turned into 90-plus minutes of one-sided discussion. Looking back, the message was received. Since that weekend, the Wildcats are 44-19 overall, 21-9 Pac-10/12 and have won 14 of 16 weekend series, including seven sweeps. The club went 15-6 to end 2011 season, including 9-3 in the Pac-10, and won 4-of-5 weekend series with three sweeps.

Leading the Pac: Entering the weekend, Arizona's hitting leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.336), slugging (.455), on base percentage (.398), runs scored (315), hits (499), RBI (287), doubles (96), triples (24) and sacrifice flies (33). The club ranks second with 61 stolen bases, and has struck out the second-fewest times (198). Pitching-wise, the Wildcats lead the conference with 307 strikeouts and have issued the second-fewest walks (113).

Leading the Pac II: Entering the weekend, Oregon's pitching ranks tops in the Pac-12 in earned run average (3.01), opposing batting average (.227), innings pitched (409.0), wins (32), saves (14), pick offs (12), and fewest runs allowed (158). The Ducks rank second in strikeouts (302) and hits allowed (329).

May Days: The Pac-12 title race and postseason picture will sort itself out in the coming weeks, but it is interesting to note the different tracks recent UA clubs have taken in the month of May. The 2010 club, comprised of a young group of talented players like Kurt Heyer, Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Joey Rickard and Robert Refsnyder, limped into the postseason after going just 5-10 in May, including 4-7 in the Pac-10. The club hit .272 down the stretch with a 6.50 team earned run average. In 2011, Arizona turned things around at the right time for a hot finish. The Cats won 10 of their final 13 regular season games and went 7-3 in Pac-10 play in May. The team hit .316 and saw much-improved pitching with a 2.59 ERA. What does this May have in store?

Patience Pays Off: Fifth-year senior and soon-to-be graduate Bobby Brown, who had just 40 starts and 164 at bats entering the year, has pretty much seen it all at Arizona. An NCAA Super Regional in 2008, one win from the College World Series. An absence from the postseason in 2009, followed by a resurgent group of talented young players guiding the program back to regional play the last two years. Now Brown has even seen himself earn national recognition. After going 9-for-12 with six runs scored, nine RBI, a double, two triples, a homer and three stolen bases in just three games against East Tennessee State, Brown was named one of five Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week by Collegiate Baseball. Brown also was cited by CollegeBaseballInsider.com as the West Region Player of the Week for his effort. Brown graduates from the school this month with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and minors in Sociology and Anthropology.

2,600 Wins: Arizona's 24-7 thumping of East Tennessee State last Friday night marked the program's 2,600th all-time win on the diamond. The school became the eighth in NCAA history to reach the plateau, including the fourth from the Pac-12. Kurt Heyer was the winning pitcher in the game that was dominated by offensive highlights, including an NCAA record-tying seven combined triples. It is interesting to note, however, that Heyer was also the winning pitcher in UA's 2,500th all-time victory. That came in his Wildcat debut and the team's season-opener against Utah Valley, an 8-1 decision, on Feb. 19, 2010, at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.

Extra! Extra! Arizona leads the Pac-12 in doubles (96) and triples (24), and is just one total extra base hit shy of Stanford and Arizona State for the most extra base hits (132) in the league to date. The Wildcats have four players that have double-digit doubles on the season, led by Seth Mejias-Brean's 15, tied for second-most in the conference. Meanwhile Bobby Brown's six triples are the most in the league and rank No. 9 nationally. Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard have 14 doubles apiece to rank tied for fifth-most, while Alex Mejia and Refsnyder have four triples to rank tied for fourth in the league. Refsnyder has a team-leading 22 extra base hits on the year, which includes a club-best four home runs.

Hits, Hits and More Hits: Alex Mejia has 68 base hits on the season. Seth Mejias-Brean has 66 knocks. Robert Refsnyder has 64 of his own. The junior trio rank No. 1-2-3 in the Pac-12 for most hits. Johnny Field has 57, which ranks tied for sixth-most, and Joey Rickard has 55, which is tied for 10th-most. That gives the Wildcats five players on the top-10 chart for most hits in the Pac-12. Mejias-Brean boasts the league's best batting average at .391, while Refsnyder is fourth at .381 and Mejia checks in sixth at .380.

It's a Team Game: Arizona may have some impressive individual hitting numbers, but the club buys into the team concept and moves runners. The Cats have 42 sacrifice bunts on the season, which is good enough to place fifth in the Pac-12 to date. More impressively, the Wildcats have a Pac-12-leading 33 sacrifice flies on the season, a mark that is No. 3 in the nation. Alex Mejia and Riley Moore each have seven sacrifice flies on the season to lead the Pac-12. The super-seven number is one shy of cracking the single season top-10 for individual players at Arizona. Moore has already surpassed three previous Wildcats (last was Jason Donald in 2004) who shared the school's freshman record for most sacrifice flies in a season with five apiece.

Heyer on Watch Lists: Junior right-hander Kurt Heyer has put together his best season to date at Arizona with an 8-1 record, a 2.42 ERA, 71 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 85.2 innings pitched. It has placed him on the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List as announced by the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Additionally, he remained on the 60-man Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, after initially appearing on the 30-player Preseason Watch List. Surely he will be in contention for Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, too, should he continue the spectacular season he has put together.

Walkie Talkie: Andy Lopez and pitching coach Shaun Cole preach to their pitchers on a daily basis that walks are unacceptable. For the most part, the staff has done a great job limiting walks, evidenced by the second-lowest total in the Pac-12 (113). It is interesting, though, the role walks can play in the breakdown of wins in losses. Consider that 22 of UA's 29 wins this season have been games when pitchers have issued two or fewer walks. Meanwhile, the Cats have lost a game just three times when they have two or fewer walks. Arizona's staff has a 2.72 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 20th-best in Division I.

Streak Snapped: Junior Joey Rickard played in all 156 games to open his Wildcat career, before missing the series finale at Washington on April 22 and then all three games last weekend. He sustained a bone bruise on his right leg when his cleats got caught up in the artificial turf on a successful steal attempt at second base on April 21. He remained in the game for a couple more innings, before leaving after he grounded out in his next at bat. He missed the next day's game to snap his streak of consecutive games played at 156, which was the sixth-longest in program history. Rickard is expected to back in his usual leadoff role and play centerfield this weekend.

Complete Games Part I: 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 four complete games in 2012 are as many as UA combined for as a team in a three-year stretch from 2008-10 ... Kurt Heyer (4), Konner Wade (2) and James Farris (2) have combined for eight 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' eight 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 15 CG's the last two seasons are nearly half of the 32 the school combined to throw in the first 11 years of the 21st century (2000-10).

Complete Games Part II: Heyer's three consecutive complete game efforts marked the best three-game stretch for a UA pitcher since RHP Preston Guilmet threw 9.0 innings in four straight games in 2007 (March 24-April 12). However, after winning the first two starts in that stretch, Guilmet got a no decision in an extra innings game to break up a chance at three complete game wins in a row. He won the fourth start in that stretch ... 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. Bradford defeated Cal (12-8, April 27) in Tucson, Arizona State (2-1, May 11) in Tucson and North Carolina State (7-4, May 18) at the Chapel Hill, N.C., Regional. In the three nine-inning victories, Bradford struck out 27, walked eight and allowed 10 earned runs in 27 total innings ... The last UA pitcher to technically throw a complete game in four straight starts was RHP Ryan Frace in 1995. Frace earned complete-game wins against Cal State Dominguez Hills (4-3, Feb. 14) and Hawaii-Hilo (8-0, Feb. 19), before a no-decision in a rain-shortened 6.2 inning tie game at Texas A&M (3-3, Feb 26). His next start was an 8.0 inning complete game loss to Arizona State (5-2, March 4) ... Arizona's complete game king of the last four decades was Bradford's teammate in 1989, RHP Scott Erickson. The 1989, Erickson tossed 14 complete games, one shy of the top mark in program history and tied with three others from the 1950s and 60s for second-best. Erickson pitched and won four straight complete game outings in Pac-10 play that season, defeating UCLA (11-1, March 3), Stanford (17-3, March 10), Cal (2-1, March 17), and Arizona State (5-3, March 23) in succession.

Power Outage: Arizona has finally reached double-digits home runs thanks to Robert Refsnyder's round-tripper at Washington and Bobby Brown's blast last week. Refsnyder's was the Wildcats' seventh homer in 13 road games on the year, while Brown's was UA's fourth in 29 home games at Hi Corbett Field. The home venue has surrendered just eight long balls this season. If the Cats hit homers at the same clip at home as they do on the road, they would have about 16 in 29 games. Alas, they have learned to settle for doubles and triples instead. Arizona leads the Pac-12 with 96 doubles and 24 triples. Despite the lack of gopher balls, UA leads the league in slugging percentage at .455.

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 24 of its last 29 games (13-11 record when trailing) and in 29 of 42 on the season (16-13). A season ago, the Cats trailed during 38 of their 60 games played. They posted a 17-21 mark in those games.

Fearsome Foursome: Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard have combined to make 624 starts in 633 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 833 base hits and 478 runs scored, hitting .336 (833-2479) as a group.

Hot At The Hot Corner: Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean continues to be one of the Pac-12's hottest hitters not only this season, but going back to the final month of 2011. Currently, Mejias-Brean leads the conference with a .391 batting average, ranks No. 9 with a .440 on base percentage, and his 15 doubles are tied for second-most. The junior has scored 43 runs (No. 3 in Pac-12) and added 44 runs batted in (No. 4 in the Pac-12). The RBI count is a new career high and blown past the 28 he tallied all of last season. 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 .399 (91-228) with 43 runs scored and 56 RBI over the course of 61 games. He recently had a 21-game hitting streak snapped, but has still hit safely in 53 of the last 61 games dating back to 2011. In his career, Mejias-Brean is a .335 hitter with 106 runs and 103 RBI.

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 8-1 with a 2.42 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 85.2 IP, including four 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 62 on the season. In his career, Heyer has 314 strikeouts, which is believed to be the most in the nation for active pitchers (research courtesy Troy Prendergast at Troy University). Heyer's 314 strikeouts are 5th-most in program history and trails Jim Nichols' 333 (1983-85) for fourth. Heyer, from Huntington Beach, Calif., has made 47 starts in his career, which is also fifth-most in school history. Heyer boasts a 23-10 record and a 2.68 ERA with just 68 walks in 326.0 innings pitched in his career.

`K'onner Wade: Sophomore RHP Konner Wade has settled nicely into his role as the team's No. 2 starter. Wade has been effectively wild at times in 2012, evidenced by 27 walks and 15 hit batsmen in 80.0 innings of work. At the same time, he's struck out 73 batters (3rd in the Pac-12) and limited foes to a .234 batting average. The 73 strikeouts lead the club, which is 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. He spent last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he became a Cape Cod League All-Star mostly as a closer. He's remained a starter at Arizona, a role he has thrived in for the most part. In his career as a starter (8-1, 19 career starts), Wade has thrown 120.0 innings with a 3.15 ERA (42 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. Wade suffered his first collegiate pitching loss against UCLA on April 14.

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 four of the last 15 games, is second on the club in overall batting average (.381, No. 4 in Pac-12), while his .583 slugging percentage is tops on the team (No. 4 in Pac-12) thanks to a team-leading 22 extra base hits. Refsnyder has walked 17 times and been hit by a pitch 10 other times, boosting his on-base percentage to .462 (No. 7 in Pac-12). In addition, he's scored 41 runs (No. 5 in pac-12) and added 46 RBI (No. 3 in Pac-12), while stealing a team-high 11 bases. He's been the guy to have at the plate in key situations, hitting .479 with runners in scoring position. In his three-year career, Refsnyder has an impressive .344 batting average, 130 runs scored, 141 RBI and 61 extra base hits (36 2B, 13 3B, 12 HR).

Field Days: Johnny Field has bounced back nicely from a hitting slump that dropped his batting average below .300 a few weeks ago. Field was mired in a 7-for-49 (.143) slump over a 13-game stretch before a road trip to the state of Utah. Since a game at Utah Valley on April 4, Field is 27-for-59 (.458) over the last 14 games. In that stretch, he has 10 extra base hits and is reaching base at a .549 clip. In the last six games alone, he his hitting 14-for-26 (.538) with six doubles and two triples to go with nine runs scored and 11 RBI. The recent run of games has brought his batting average up to .354. Field has drawn a team-high 29 walks (No. 2 in Pac-12) and has struck out just 22 times. He ranks second in the Pac-12 in runs scored (45) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.470).

Mejia Mania: An All-Pac-10 selection as a sophomore, shortstop Alex Mejia is turning in a sensational junior season. Mejia ranks third on the team and sixth in the Pac-12 with a .380 batting average entering this weekend. He is slugging .525 on the season, which is fourth on the team, and has been boosted by nine doubles, four triples and three home runs. The round-trippers are second-most on the team and are his first since his freshman season after he snapped a streak of 371at-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. 2 or 3 in the lineup. In his career, Mejia boasts a .343 batting average, 112 runs scored, 211 hits and 116 RBI. Interestingly, Mejia has been even more efficient in conference games in his career, hitting .367 (98-267) with 42 runs and 39 RBI in 72 career league contests. Defensively, Mejia makes some spectacular plays on seemingly a daily basis, and his 135 assists are second-most in the Pac-12. Mejia was named a second team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Out of the Gates: In recent seasons, Arizona has been known as a fast-starting team. Just look at the 2011 season when the Wildcats outscored opponents a cumulative 42-18 in the first inning of games. Or look at 2010 when the margin was 48-30. This year, surprisingly, the Cats have been outscored 32-31 in the opening inning of ballgames. It's part of the reason UA has fallen behind in 24 of their last 29 games, and is something the Wildcats would like to turn around. Opponents are batting .322 in the first inning off UA pitching, which is the only inning in which there is a cumulative .300 or better average.

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 home 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 63,379 fans in 29 games (avg. 2,185), 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 15-5 when scoring first in a game, while eight of their 13 losses have come in games when the opponent scores first. One of the indicators has been first-inning runs. The Cardinal and Navy is 12-4 when scoring in the first inning this year, and just 4-8 when the opponent scores in the first inning. 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 24-5 when it scores five or more runs in a game, while it has struggled to a 5-8 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 18-0. When opponents score five runs or more, UA has struggled at to an 11-13 clip.

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 286-28-1 (.917) in the last 312 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 24-4 in such games.

Up Next:Arizona leaves town for seven straight road games, its longest stretch away from home this season. The Wildcats play a three-game set at California (May 11-13), then play a non-conference game at Arizona State (May 16) before another three-game league series at USC (May 18-20). UA concludes the regular season at Hi Corbett Field against Arizona State (May 25-27).



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