A top-20 showdown is in store this weekend when No. 5 Arizona takes on No. 19 Oregon State in a three-game Pac-12 series in Corvallis, Ore.
March 23, 2012
|2012 Arizona Baseball
March 23-25, 2012 | Corvallis, Ore. | Goss Stadium
No. 5 Arizona (16-6, 2-1 Pac-12) @ No. 19 Oregon State (14-5, 3-0 Pac-12)
|Friday, March 23 • 5:35 p.m. (PDT) • Goss Stadium • UA Radio: None
RHP Kurt Heyer (4-1, 1.23) vs. LHP Ben Wetzler (4-0, 4.06)
|Saturday, March 24 • 2:05 p.m. (PDT) • Goss Stadium • UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Konner Wade (3-0, 3.86) vs. RHP Dan Child (2-1, 1.65)
|UA Radio (All-Access)
|Sunday, March 25 • 1:05 p.m. (PDT) • Goss Stadium • UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP James Farris (2-1, 3.94) vs. LHP Jace Fry (1-0, 3.86)
|UA Radio (All-Access)
|Some Series Themes
|A top-20 matchup sure to draw some curious eyes from around the nation … Two clubs with much to prove early in the conference season and drastically different psyches entering the series … The Beavers swept their first league series, while the Cats took two-of-three from Washington State, but were humbled by New Mexico State earlier this week … UA’s Kurt Heyer looks to rekindle the magic he had on the mound a season ago against the Beavers … Can the Wildcats earn a series win against OSU for the fist time since 2007? … How will some of the younger Cats handle their first Pac-12 road series? … OSU sends a pair of lefties and a righty to the mound against a UA staff that has started three righties during each weekend series to date … The Cats’ first time stepping onto an artificial surface this year … OSU has played just four home games to date, while UA ventured out of Tucson for only two tilts … A stretch of seven-of-10 road games looms in UA’s future, so strong start would be welcomed this weekend.
||Baseball America Rankings
ARIZ - 5th, OSU - 19th
|Game Notes (PDF)
|2012 Media Guide
Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez: The Wildcats are coached by Andy Lopez, who is now in his 11th season with a 371-235-1 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 1,058-653-7 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-NMSU Recap: The Wildcats dropped their first series of the season, losing two midweek games to New Mexico State on Tuesday and Wednesday … UA was unable to put the Aggies away early in Tuesday’s ballgame and squandered a 4-3 lead in the late stages highlight by three errors in the eighth inning that helped NMSU score the final four runs of the game in a 7-4 victory … On Wednesday, UA’s staff issued a season-high nine walks and hit three batters as the Aggies held off UA 13-8 … NMSU outhit UA .333-.288 to go with a 20-12 advantage in runs scored … UA’s four juniors in the lineup (Rickard, Mejia, Refsnyder and Mejias-Brean) each had three hits in the series, while senior Bobby Brown had a pair of doubles off the bench on Wednesday … The UA staff struck out 18 over the two games, but walked 15.
2011 OSU Series Recap: For the second weekend in a row, the Wildcats captured the series opener but were unable to pick up a victory in either of the final two games as Oregon State left Tucson with two wins in tow ... Kurt Heyer was dominant with nine strikeouts on the mound in a complete game shutout that saw Arizona score 12 runs in the sixth inning en route to an 18-0 victory on Friday ... Oregon State evened the series with a 10-4 win on Saturday aided by eight two-out RBI ... The Beavers jumped out to a 7-1 lead thru three innings on Sunday on their way to an 8-4 series-clinching victory ... Boosted by the scoring outburst on Friday, Arizona outscored the Beavs 26-18 and out-hit OSU .345-.292 ... In fact, the Cats had double-digit hits in each game of the series ... Saturday starter Kyle Simon, who suffered just his second loss of the year, battled illness and lacked the stamina to carry him deep into the ballgame as he gave up a season-high five runs ... Tyler Hale also had a rough outing, giving up seven early runs in his shortest start of the year on Sunday ... Robert Refsnyder and Jett Bandy combined for 13 RBI in the series, while Cole Frenzel scored seven runs ... Timely hitting was a key for the Beavers as they scored 13 of their 18 runs with two outs in an inning despite hitting just .267 with runners in scoring position on the weekend.
Seth’s Streak: Seth Mejias-Brean is the regining Pac-12 Player of the Week, and he’s continued his excellent play into the new week. Mejias-Brean, who has made 133 starts at third base as a Wildcat, carries a .356 batting average and a career-best 15-game hitting streak into this weekend’s action (also has a 21-game reached-base streak). His 25 RBI on the season not only rank second among Pac-12 players, but have nearly reached the 28 he collected in all of 2011. 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 .384 (56-146) with 20 runs scored and 37 RBI over the course of 41 games.
From Start To Finish: Baseball is a nine-inning game, 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 9-1 when scoring first in a game, while five of their six losses have come in games when the opponent scores first. One of the indicators has been first-inning runs. UA and its opponents are tied 18-18 in first-inning scoring and the Cardinal and Navy is 7-1 when scoring in the first inning this year. 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.
Home at Hi Corbett: If fan turnout is any indication, Arizona’s move to Hi Corbett Field has been a huge success. The Wildcats have already played 20 games at their new home, posting a 15-5 record. Those 20 contests have drawn 37,915 (1,895 per game) fans, which already surpasses the 36,412 fans that turned out for 33 home dates in 2011. From a financial standpoint, ticket revenue has increased to $113,312 this baseball season compared to a season total of $69,087 last year. Concessions revenues have been positive as well. Last year net revenues were $21,700 with gross sales of $90,800. Half-way through this season net sales have been $39,823 with gross sales of $108,619. The Wildcats still have 15 home games remaining, including Pac-12 series against nationally-ranked foes Stanford, UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State.
Alive With Five: Five runs seems to be a pretty good breaking point for success for the Wildcats. In 2012, Arizona is 14-1 when it scores five or more runs in a game, while it has struggled to a 2-5 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 10-0. When opponents score five runs or more, UA has struggled at to a 6-6 clip.
2011 Heyer vs. OSU: Then-sophomore Kurt Heyer turned in one of his best pitching performances of his career in an 18-0 series-opening shutout against Oregon State a year ago. The shutout was the first thrown against Oregon State in 139 games dating back to 2008. Facing off against OSU's Sam Gaviglio in one of the most hyped pitching matchups of the season, Heyer threw a complete game shutout for the first time in his career and went the distance for just the second time in his career. Heyer was dominant all game long, surrendering just five hits and two walks to go with nine strikeouts.
Hitting the Road: Arizona has opened the season by playing 20 of its first 22 games at the friendly confines of historic Hi Corbett Field. The upcoming schedule is a bit more adventurous. The Wildcats are set to play seven of their next 10 and 11 of their next 17 contests away from home. In fact, UA’s final 33 regular season games include more than half (18) on the road. It all starts this weekend against No. 19 Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.
Power Outage: The Wildcats’ offensive lineup is not built for power, but it does boast 27 career home runs. The interesting part is just two of those round-trippers have come in 2012. Yes, UA has just two home runs on the entire season, both hit by Alex Mejia, and none have come in that last 16 games (555 team at bats without a home run). It’s a prolonged homerun drought that can mostly be explained by playing in one of the nation’s biggest ballparks. Hi Corbett Field’s outfield fences are posted as 366-feet down the left field line, 410-feet to left-center, 405-feet to right-center and 366 down the right field line. In 20 games, the ballpark has seen seven total home runs, so it’s seemingly a ruthian effort to drive the ball out of the ballpark.
Two-Out Hitting: Timely hitting is often the key to winning tightly contested games, especially on the road. It’s an area the Wildcats are looking to improve on going into this weekend. In two mid-week losses against New Mexico State, UA left 20 total runners on base and collected just one two-out RBI, while the Aggies pushed across seven. It’s a bit of a prolonged rut for the Wildcats capitalizing with runners on base. Over the last five games (2-3), UA is hitting .259 as a team with two outs in an inning, has left 45 runners on base, and has been outscored 11-5 in two-out RBI. Robert Refsnyder (2-for-5, 3 RBI) is the one Wildcat with some relative two-out success in the last five games.
Career Tallies: Veterans Alex Mejia (.338), Robert Refsnyder (.341), Seth Mejias-Brean (.320), Joey Rickard (.330) and Johnny Field (.310) all boast career batting averages of .310 or better … Rickard and Refsnyder each have at least 100 hits, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI … Rickard is seven hits shy of 200 for his career, while Refsnyder needs 14 more … Mejia is approaching 100 runs and RBI, with 94 runs scored and 93 RBI to date to go with 178 career hits …Refsnyder has reached base 60 combined times by either a walk (35) or hit by pitch (25) against 71 strikeouts … Refsnyder has 49 extra base hits to lead the group, while Mejia’s 31 doubles are most and Rickard’s 12 homers are tops amongst the veterans.
Troupe Time: Freshman right-hander Mathew Troupe has emerged as the team’s closer. Already, Troupe has posted a 2-0 record and registered three saves. While he has given up 14 hits in 13.1 innings pitched, he’s limited his walks (4) and racked up 19 strikeouts, which is third-most on the club. He’s made nine appearances and faced some tense situations in those contests, perhaps none more so than at Rice (3/14) when he was able to end the game with a bases-loaded strikeout against the potential winning run at the plate.
The Nine-Hole: Arizona has utilized the No. 9 spot in the batting order for its designated hitter in all 22 games this season. The duty has been shared by senior Bobby Brown, who provides the lineup with gap-power, and freshman Joseph Maggi, who is more of a spray hitter. Brown got off to a tough start to his senior campaign, which opened the door for Maggi who has started 13 of the last 14 games. Both are left-handed bats that provide some much-needed flexibility in the bottom of the order, and their contributions are critical to turning the lineup over to UA’s veterans at the top of the order. When Brown does not start, he is a top left-handed off the bench that can slide into left field in a pinch.
New to the Nine: Catcher Riley Moore and second baseman Trent Gilbert are both true freshmen that find themselves in every day roles for the Wildcats. Moore has started 20 of the 22 games, with a couple rest days mixed in, behind the plate. He’s compiled a .279 batting average to date to go with 16 RBI and 10 runs scored, plus he ranks second on the club with 14 walks. His classmate, Gilbert, has started all 22 games at second base while tallying a .265 batting average, 13 runs and 15 RBI. Moore is a switch-hitter while Gilbert offers a left-handed bat that balances out the heavy right-handed top end of the order.
Fuel For Field: Sophomore Johnny Field opened the season on a torrid pace, but has since run into a slump that he hopes to break out of quickly. Field was hitting a team-best .434 following UA’s March 11 victory over Eastern Michigan, but he has since gone just 4-for-27 (.148) in the last seven games. His batting average has dropped to its current .338 clip and he has just one extra base hit and two runs batted in those seven contests. He would love to snap out of the slump this weekend against the Beavers and get back to his usual ways as a run-producer in the middle of the order.
Mejia Mania: Junior shortstop Alex Mejia, an All-Pac-10 player a year ago, is turning in his best season as a Wildcat through the first month of the season. The Sylmar, Calif., native has a team-best .493 batting average and has scored 22 runs to go with 15 RBI. He’s an unselfish bat in the lineup that, despite hitting the team’s only two home runs, has a team-high five sacrifice bunts on the year to go with three sacrifice flies. Mejia’s two homers combine with six doubles and a triple to give him the club’s highest slugging percentage (.551). In two-plus seasons, Mejia has been at his best during conference games, hitting .366 (75-205) with 31 runs and 25 RBI in 57 career league contests. Mejia was named a second team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Rev’d Up Rob: Robert Refsnyder, an All-Pac-10 player a year ago, is off to a fantastic start in his junior campaign. After 22 games, Refsnyder’s .391 batting average is second-best on the club, while he is one of two players to have at least 20 RBI (23) and 20 runs scored (23). He has 10 extra base hits, including seven doubles and three triples, stealing a team-best 10 nine bases. Refsnyder has been hit by pitch a team-leading 10 times and has drawn five walks, to give him the highest on base percentage (.476) on the team. Refsnyder has been at his best in scoring situations, batting 19-for-34 (.559) with runners in scoring position. He hit safely in the first 15 games of the season, and couple with the final two games of 2012, had a career-best 17-game hitting streak. In his career, Refsnyder is a .341 hitter who has 112 runs scored and 118 RBI.
Joltin’ Joey: Joey Rickard does not have a home run in 2012, but neither does anyone outside of Alex Mejia on the Wildcats’ roster. Even so, Rickard, the team’s leadoff hitter, is UA’s active career home run leader with 12. Playing at the spacious Hi Corbett Field, Rickard has still thrived without the long ball being a part of his early-season repertoire. He is hitting .344 and has a team-high eight doubles, plus is second on the team with eight stolen bases. He has scored 21 runs and added 13 RBI, while also roaming the cavernous centerfield at Hi Corbett. In his career, Rickard is a .330 hitter and has 193 base hits to go with 117 runs and 101 RBI.
Just One Of Those Days: As Andy Lopez phrased it last weekend, “Kurt Heyer is human.” The junior ace of the Wildcats had perhaps his worst outing of his stellar career wearing the cardinal and navy last Friday night in a 6-0 loss to Washington State. Heyer suffered his first loss of the season during his 5.2 innings outing. He allowed just four runs – three earned – but lacked the command that has made him one of the Pac-12’s most consistent pitchers. Despite the setback, Heyer still boasts a 4-1 record and a 1.23 ERA to go with 35 strikeouts against six walks in 36.2 innings pitched. Surely, it was just one of those days for Heyer against the Cougars. He’ll take the mound again this Friday at Oregon State seeking to get back to his usual ways.
Ranking the Stats: Entering this week (NCAA stats are updated once per week) Arizona ranked highly in several national statistical categories: The Wildcats, who call the cavernous Hi Corbett Field home, are tied for the national lead with 12 triples … The Cats’ 42 stolen bases are 11th-most in the country … UA’s .3331 team batting average ranks No. 12 … The Cats are scoring 7.5 runs per game, a mark that ranks tied for 26th-best in the nation … UA defenders have turned 21 double plays, good enough for 16th-most to date … UA’s pitching staff has surrendered just 2.66 walks per game, a mark that is 27th-best … Konner Wade (43) and Kurt Heyer (35) rank No. 9 and No. 39, respectively, for total strikeouts.
Heating Up: Arizona hitters got off to a slow start this year, hitting .242 in their opening three games against North Dakota State. Since, the Wildcats are 14-5 and hitting .333 as a team, having raised the overall batting average 85 points to the current .327 clip. Seven players are hitting over .300, while three others are hitting .290 or better (all min. 20 AB). The left side of UA’s infield – Alex Mejia (.400) and Seth Mejias-Brean (.377) – have been the hottest hitters over the last 19 games, while Joseph Maggi (.372) and Robert Refsnyder (.365) are not far behind.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Wildcat hitters have been hit by a pitch 30 times this season. That total ranks second-most in the Pac-12 and 23 of those plunkings have occurred over the last nine games. On March 11 against Eastern Michigan, UA hitters tied a school record by being hit by a pitch six times. Robert Refsnyder, who has been drilled 10 times this season, also tied a school record that game by being hit three times with a pitch. In 2011, UA hitters were plunked 80 times, which was the third-highest single season total in school history.
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 10 times in his career. In 2012, Heyer is 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 36.2 IP.
Heyer Rings ‘Em Up: Kurt Heyer matched his career high set during his freshman season with 14 strikeouts against Harvard on March 2 and has 35 on the season. In his career, Heyer has 278 strikeouts, which is believed to be the most in the nation for active pitchers (research courtesy Troy Prendergast at Troy University). Heyer’s 278 strikeouts are the 10th-most in program history and trail Jim Ward’s 292 (1958-60) and Rich Hinton’s 300 (1967-69) for the ninth and eighth spots, respectively. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native boasts a 19-10 record and a 2.57 ERA in his career, which includes 41 starts in 42 appearances.
‘K’onner Wade: Sophomore RHP Konner Wade, the club’s Saturday starter, has reached double-digit strikeouts in three of his five starts this season and has a team-high 44 on the season, which leads the Pac-12 Conference and ranks No. 9 nationally. That’s 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. The strong start backs up an impressive summer that saw Wade become a Cape Cod League All-Star mostly as a closer. At Arizona, he’ll remain a starter, a spot he’s had success in during his first two years. In his career as a starter (5-0, 13 career starts), Wade has thrown 77.1 innings with a 2.79 ERA (24 ER).
Fearsome Foursome: Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard have combined to make 548 starts in 557 total games played. They have missed a combined three games in their careers, with Rickard playing in all 135 games and missing only one start. It’s been a very consistent a productive group that has helped guide the Wildcats to consecutive NCAA Regional appearances. Together they have accumulated 712 base hits and 406 runs scored, hitting .329 (712-2162) as a group.
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 276-25-1 (.917) in the last 302 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 92-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 14-1 in such games (NMSU loss on 3/20).
Mejia Muscles Up: Arizona’s first home runs – yes plural – at Hi Corbett Field came off the bat of junior shortstop Alex Mejia, who went 371 at-bats between home runs. Mejia homered just once in his first two seasons – a grand slam against New Mexico on March 24, 2010. His second career homer was a two-run shot that capped a five-run inning for the Cats, who went on to down Auburn, 8-1, on Feb. 24. Mejia’s third career round-tripper came less than 24 hours when he hit another two-run home run against Auburn in a 15-4 victory. The two home runs for Mejia are the club’s only gopher balls of the season to date. On the year, Mejia is hitting .393 with 15 RBI to go with 22 runs scored. His nine extra base hits are second on the club.
.300 Club: Arizona led the Pac-10 and ranked No. 3 in the nation in 2011 with a .320 team batting average, which extended the program’s streak to nine consecutive seasons with an overall batting average of .300 or better. In 2011, UA hit .321 as a team which was the best clip for a Wildcat team since 2005, when a veteran squad turned in a blistering .328 average. The 2003 club - Andy Lopez’s second year - also hit .328, while the 2009 club hit .314. Other marks include .306 in 2007, .305 in 2006 and in the 2004 College World Series season, and .301 in 2008.
On Deck:Arizona finally gets a break from mid-week action that has resulted in the team playing 18 games in a 24-day period. The Wildcats will utilize next week to prep for a visit from No. 2 Stanford, which travels to Tucson to take on Arizona in a three-game series at Hi Corbett Field (March 30 – April 1).