April 13, 2009
New Mexico (28-8, 8-4 MWC) at Arizona (14-16, 3-9 Pac-10)
Tucson, Ariz. - Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium
Tuesday, April 14 - 7 p.m. Gametracker
Wednesday, April 15 - 7 p.m. Gametracker
Probable Pitching Matchups
Tuesday: LHP Bobby Moore vs. RHP Joe Allison
Wednesday: RHP Willy Kessler vs. RHP Daniel Workman
Some Series Themes: Two offense-oriented teams will battle in a mid-week series ... New Mexico was the national leader in batting average a week (.393) but saw its average drop to .382 after a series of close games over the weekend against Utah ... The Wildcats continue to lead the Pac-10 in batting with a .312 team average ... Extra base hits might be expected in this series, as the Wildcats lead the Pac-10 in doubles (80) and triples (19), but UNM boasts totals of 99 doubles and 36 triples, the latter being the top mark in the nation ... One of the Pac-10's top stolen base teams, UA (46), will take on the Mountain West's top theft club, UNM (54) ... The Wildcats will send a pair of first-time starters to the mound in Joe Allison on Tuesday and Daniel Workman on Wednesday.
Series History: Former Western Athletic Conference rivals Arizona and New Mexico continue a historical regional rivalry that dates back to 1939 ... The two programs will meet for the fifth consecutive year and ... The series frequently marked the season openers for both programs in the 1990's, as the two teams opened the 1991-1996 seasons against each other ... The Wildcats lead the all-time series 164-32 and have won the last seven meetings.
A Quick Glance at the Lobos: One of the top hitting clubs in the nation, New Mexico led all Division I teams in batting average, total hits and triples last week and is hitting .382 as a team entering this week ... UNM escaped with three consecutive one-run victories - each in 10 innings - at Utah over the weekend to improve to 28-8 on the season ... The Lobos will send LHP Bobby Moore (4-1, 3.71) to the mound on Tuesday and Willy Kessler (0-0, 12.00) on Wednesday.
OSU Series Recap: The Wildcats dropped two of three games to the Beavers over the weekend, including the Thursday (9-5) an Saturday (8-3) games, while winning the Friday game (6-5) ... Preston Guilmet appeared to be in line to earn the victory on Thursday as he turned a 5-4 lead over to Jason Stoffel in the eighth inning, but UA's all-time saves leader suffered only his second blown save in 25 chances ... Only three Wildcats - Dillon Baird (7-for-12), Bryce Ortega (6-for-12) and Brad Glenn (4-for-13) - hit better than .300 in the series ... Ortega also turned in some exceptional defensive plays, particularly in Friday's win, to improve on his flawless defense in Pac-10 games ... Cory Burns pitched in all three games to run his season total to 23 appearances ... Friday's win marked UA's first win over a ranked team in 2009 (1-10).
Dillon is Delivering: Junior first baseman Dillon Baird has turned in exceptional numbers during the first half of 2009. The Prescott, Ariz., native is hitting a team-best .447, is second on the team with 28 runs scored, and leads all Wildcats with 31 RBI. He also leads the club in slugging (.753) and on-base percentage (.538). The left hand hitter is second on the club with four home runs and his 16 walks are second most on the team. Additionally, Baird has shown marked improvement defensively, posting a fielding percentage of .986 and committing only three errors on the season - the fewest if any infield player on the club.
More Baird: As impressive as his overall numbers are, junior Dillon Baird has been sensational over his last 16 games. Over the stretch, Baird is hitting .517 (30-for-58) with 19 runs scored and 20 RBI. Of his 30 hits, 14 have gone for extra bases, including eight doubles, three triples and three home runs. His slugging percentage is a staggering .914 and he has reached base at a .592 clip. For good measure, he as added 10 walks and been hit by two pitches in the last 11 games.
Childs Play: Arizona catcher Dwight Childs is turning in a breakout junior season. Through 30 games, Childs has started in 19, sharing time with classmate Daniel Butler. But Childs has made the most of his time, hitting a career best .373 one year removed from his .193 campaign as a sophomore. Childs, who had one career home run through two seasons, already has three in 2009 and his 20 RBI already surpassed his 15 from the entire 2008 season. Three weeks ago at UCLA, he hit a team best .750, reached base at a .846 clip and slugged an incredible 1.625 in three starts behind the plate at UCLA. Childs, in only eight official at bats, tallied six hits, including one double and two home runs. He scored five runs and batted in seven runs to pace the Wildcats. Childs also walked four times and was hit by a pitch once and reached base an amazing 12 consecutive plate appearances.
Ortega Gets Offensive: Sophomore shortstop Bryce Ortega has been one of UA's steadiest offensive performers throughout the 2009 season. The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native is hitting .372 on the season and leads the team with 35 runs scored. Ortega, who stole 13 bases in 15 attempts a season ago, is a 12-for-13 in steals this season. Additionally, Ortega, who has spent most of his time hitting in the leadoff spot, also has 20 RBI, which ranks third on the team. He is slugging .531 and is reaching base at a .467 clip, thanks in part to his 17 walks and four hit-by-pitches this season.
TGIF? In the typical Friday games (and last week's Thursday game) against top pitching, Arizona has struggled offensively posting a .269 average in such games compared to the .314 mark overall. However, several Wildcats standout against the top pitching, including Dillon Baird and and Bobby Coyle. Baird, UA's top overall hitter, is hitting .435 on the first game of each weekend series. Coyle, a sophomore outfielder, is hitting .424 in such games and has hit all three of his home runs on Friday nights. Bryce Ortega has also thrived in the games, hitting .345 on Friday's. Not other Wildcats who have played in half of the games is hitting over .300 in the first game of the weekend series.
We'll Take Two, or Three! Out of Arizona's 335 hits on the year, 124 have gone for extra bases. UA's preferred extra base hit on the season seems to be the double. The Wildcats have hit 80 doubles on the season which averages out to 2.67 doubles per game. A week ago, the two figures ranked No. 7 nationally and lead the Pac-10. But, the Wildcats are also No. 4 nationally with 19 triples on the season. Seven different Wildcats have tripled on the season, with four players tallying three triples (Dillon Baird, Bobby Coyle, Bryce Ortega and Dwight Childs). Interestingly, Arizona only hit four extra base hits in the entire Oregon State series - all doubles.
Stoffel is No. 1: Jason Stoffel continues to close out games for the Wildcats at a record-breaking clip. In fact, each save he earns the rest of the way in his career will break his own career record for saves. On Feb. 20, Stoffel earned his 19th career save to surpass Mark Melancon as the program's all-time leader in the category. Now, the Baseball American pre-season first team All-American stands alone with 23 career saves.
Turning Two: Arizona is turning double plays at a record pace entering this weekend's series and the Wildcats lead the nation with 38 doubles plays turned. A season ago, the Wildcats turned only 47 on the entire season. This season's tally of 38 (1.27 per game) projects to 70 on the season, which would come close to breaking the school record of 81 in a season set by the 1979 club. In fact, the highest total in the Lopez era is the 60 turned by the 2003 team. UA's per-game mark was No. 3 in the nation a week ago, while the 36 total double plays were No. 10 in the nation.
Feeling the Burns: Senior RHP Cory Burns has been one of the club's top options out of the bullpen early in 2009, having pitched in 23 of UA's first 30 games ... Burns, who has yet to earn a decision on the season, has pitched 28.1 innings and struck out 33 batters ... At his current pace (appeared in 77 percent of UA's games), he would break the UA record for appearances in a single season, which is currently held by Tod Brown, who pitched in 35 games in 1993 (Top-10 can be found on page 63 of UA media guide) ... Burns has been one of UA's most reliable relievers in recent years and he is quickly moving up the UA career chart for career appearances ... To date, Burns has appeared in 77 career games, which is tied for No. 4 all-time at UA (Top-10 can be found on page 61 of UA media guide). He needs 11 more appearances to tie Ron Sismondo as UA's all-time leader for appearances.
Glenny Moves Up: With his five home runs on the season, senior Brad Glenn has a total of 39 round-trippers in his four seasons at Arizona. That mark is No. 2 all-time at Arizona, trailing only Shelley Duncan, who blasted 55 home runs as a Wildcat. Glenn also has been hit by 40 pitches, which is also good for No. 2 all-time at Arizona. Again, he'll have a tough time catching the leader, Colt Sedbrook, who was hit by a pitch 55 times in his career. Interestingly, 55 is the all-time mark in the two categories. Lastly, look for Glenn to move into the UA Top 10 for all-time games played later this season. To date, he has played in 187 games as a Wildcat and trails Kenny Corley's 201 games played, which ranks No. 10 at Arizona.
Shutting `Em Out: The Arizona pitching staff has combined to throw three shutouts in the last nine games. The Wildcats shutout UMass in the series finale (9-0) and completed bookend shutouts of Michigan last weekend (2-0, 14-0). The 2008 club, which set a school record with 34.2 scoreless innings at one point, threw seven shutouts on the season.
Setting the Pace: One of the pleasant surprises early in 2009 has been the steady play of senior Hunter Pace. The veteran outfielder, who was relegated to a reserve role primarily as a pinch runner early in his career, has started 18 games to date in center field. Pace, who is hitting .389, is second on the club behind Dillon Baird for the top hitting mark on the club and has hit three doubles, a pair of triples and blasted his first career homer - a grand slam - against USC on April 4. The speedster has stolen 8-of-11 bases and scored 20 runs.
Stacking Up the Pac: Despite the struggles at the plate last weekend at ASU, the Wildcats still rank favorably in the Pac-10 in several offensive categories. Entering the weekend, UA is near the top of the league in almost every offensive category. Here's a look at the numbers:
Category Stat Rank
Batting Ave. .312 1
Slugging % .492 2
On Base % .383 3
Runs Scored 237 2
Hits 335 t-1
RBI 212 2
Doubles 80 1
Triples 19 1
Homeruns 25 7
Taking Form: After a couple of un-Preston-like performance to open 2009, senior RHP Preston Guilmet has begun to take to his old form that has made him one of the top pitchers in Arizona history. In his last six starts, Guilmet has lasted into the sixth or seventh innings but has only posted a 2-2 record thanks in part to a lack of run support. His ERA has lowered to 3.78 and he has struck out 48 batters in 47.2 innings on the season. Guilmet currently ranks No. 3 in UA history with 374 strikeouts and needs 48 strikeouts to surpass Carl Thomas as the top strikeout pitcher in Wildcat history. He has pitched 373.0 innings in his three seasons plus at UA, and has a chance to become UA's all-time leader in the category (Ed Vosberg, 405.1). He stands at No. 6 in program history in fewest walks per nine innings at 2.46. Additionally, his 23 career wins are five shy of breaking into the Top 10 at UA. Here's a look at Guilmet's career numbers:
ERA W-L App. GS CG IP H R ER BB SO
3.50 23-16 61 55 6 373.0 371 180 145 112 374
Mix and Match: Due to a handful of nagging injuries, head coach Andy Lopez has been forced to shuffle his lineup on nearly a daily basis. In fact, no player has started all 30 games this season. In all, 15 different position players have started a game and all 15 have made at least six starts. Additionally, UA has used 27 different lineups (out of 30 possible), using the same lineup multiple times only twice. That occurred in the Friday and Saturday games against USC and the Thursday and Saturday games against Oregon State. Otherwise, UA has never had the same lineup more than once. On the mound, Arizona has used 12 different pitchers, with 11 making at least three appearances.
Swipin' Bags: The Wildcats were second in the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 91 in 2008, and this 2009 version may be in line to challenge that mark. Through 30 games, Arizona has stolen 46 bases, which ranks second in the Pac-10. Bryce Ortega (11-for-12) and Hunter Pace (both 8-for-11) lead Arizona in the category, but 13 different players have stolen at least one base.
Hitting in the Clutch: While the season is young, the Wildcats have proven clutch at the plate with runners in scoring position. Arizona is hitting .336 on the season with runners in scoring position, .353 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and .649 with runners on third and less than two outs, which includes scoring 61 runs in 94 chances. On the season, the Cats have driven in 91 runners with two outs in an inning.
Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week: Junior Jason Stoffel was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 17 following his dominating work out of the bullpen a week earlier against Oklahoma State and Michigan. Against the Wolverines, Stoffel earned a pair of saves, including a three-inning appearance in the Friday game to help UA to a 2-0 victory, and a five-up, five-down via strikeout affair in the Saturday game to give the Cats a 9-7 win. The right hander pitched 6.1 innings in three appearances on the week, allowing no runs on only hit. He struck out 10 batters and walked none. The weekly honor was the first of his career and the 40th all-time for a UA pitcher.
Young, But Talented: A total of 12 players with no prior Arizona experience have already played key roles for the Wildcats this season either as starters or key reserves. Offensively, Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy have found every day roles in the lineup, while newcomers are in the regular pitching rotation. That does not include Matt Chaffee or Joe Allison, each who are in their second year in the program but making their most significant contributions. Ryan Doyle also made his season debut against Oklahoma State, marking his second career appearance.
Flying Under the Radar: Since Andy Lopez took over the Arizona baseball program the Wildcats have made a return to the national scene. After disappearing nationally nearly all together from 1994-2001, Arizona has made five postseason appearances (2003-05, 2007-08) in the last six seasons, has played for four regional championships (2004-05, 2007-08) - winning two of them (2004 and 2008), won a super regional title (2004), and made its 15th trip to Omaha (2004). Impressive feats on that very basic level, but when you factor in that UA still hasn't hosted a postseason game at home since 1992, the simple fact that Lopez and Wildcats have been able to achieve so much on the road makes it just that more impressive.
Light Up the Scoreboard: In UA's first Pac-10 win last month at UCLA, the 19 runs scored by the Wildcats were their most in some time. In fact, UA last scored 19 runs back on March 13, 2007 at Hawaii-Hilo in a 19-3 victory. Arizona had not tallied that many runs in a Pac-10 game since a 27-4 rout against Washington State on May 13, 2006. For Pac-10 road games, it was the largest offensive output since a 20-9 victory in Los Angeles on May 8, 2004.
Head Coach Andy Lopez: Arizona head coach Andy Lopez enters his eighth season as the Wildcats' skipper with a 266-175-1 record at UA. Now in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, Lopez has compiled a career record of 953-593-7. Last season, Lopez notched his 900th career victory against Sacramento State and guided the Wildcats to consecutive 40+ win seasons -- a feat the UA program had not accomplished since 1985-86.
24 No More: With the addition of Oregon to mix of Pacific-10 baseball, the Conference season has been extended to a 27-game schedule from its previous 24-game slate. All league teams will play each other three times during the season. Like football, the home-away split will be unbalanced with nine opponents, meaning half the league will have five conference home series, while the other half will only play four at home.
Early Recognition: Several Wildcats have received some notable pre-season media attention and are on watch lists for some of the nation's top honors. Here is the list:
Jason Stoffel ('09 Junior) - Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American; BaseballInsider.com Pre-Season Second Team All-American; Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American (Third Team), Preseason NCBWA All-American (Third Team), 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List; Rivals.com Pre-Season All-Conference
Preston Guilmet ('09 Senior) - Rivals.com Preseason Top 10 Returning Senior, 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
Bryce Ortega ('09 Sophomore) - 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List
On Deck: Arizona will hit the road as it begins a seven game road trip. The Wildcats will play a three-game conference series at Washington State April 17-19, then play a non-conference game at Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., on April 20.