No. 2 Stanford (16-3, 2-1 Pac-12) visits No. 8 Arizona (18-7, 4-2 Pac-12) for a three-game series this weekend at Hi Corbett Field.
March 29, 2012
|2012 Arizona Baseball
March 30 - April 1, 2012 | Tucson, Ariz. | Hi Corbett Field
No. 2 Stanford (16-3, 2-1 Pac-12) @ No. 8 Arizona (18-7, 4-2 Pac-12)
|Friday, March 30 • 6 p.m. (MST) • Hi Corbett Field • UA Radio: 1290 AM
RHP Mark Appel (3-1, 2.92) vs. RHP Kurt Heyer (4-1, 2.09)
|Live Audio • Live Video
|Saturday, March 31 • 6 p.m. (MST) • Hi Corbett Field • UA Radio: 1290 AM
LHP Brett Mooneyham (5-0, 2.12) vs. RHP Konner Wade (3-0, 3.80)
|Live Audio • Live Video
|Sunday, April 1 • Noon (MST) • Hi Corbett Field • UA Radio: 1290 AM
LHP John Hochstatter (3-2, 1.03) vs. RHP James Farris (3-1, 4.10)
|Live Audio • Live Video
|Some Series Themes
|A Pac-12 showdown pitting two top-10 clubs that were selected No. 1 and 2 in the conference in the preseason coaches' poll ... Neither side has dropped a weekend series to date, so something is sure to give ... SU boasts a much ballyhooed pitching staff with front-end arms in Mark Appel and Brett Mooneyham, with freshman John Hochstatter packing some punch on Sundays ... UA looks to get junior ace Kurt Heyer back on track after a couple sub-part outings ... A rematch of last year's stellar pitching duel between Appel and Heyer kicks off the series Friday ... Two strong offensive clubs that reach base at a nearly identical clip ... SU has blasted 16 homers on the year, while the Cats have just five, though three of those came last weekend ... How does spacious Hi Corbett Field affect two hitting and pitching of the two ballclubs? ... UA is an optimistic 44-of-61 in stolen base tries on the year compared to a more cautious 11-of-15 mark for SU ... Two pitching staffs that are pretty good at throwing strikes, while limiting walks ... Perhaps the one does the best gets an advantage? ... UA has played 20 of 25 games at home already, while the Cardinal has played 14 of 19 at Sunken Diamond ... Forecast calls for seasonable sunny and warm temps after weather has played a factor across the league the last two weeks.
||Baseball America Rankings
ARIZ - 8th, Stanford - 2nd
|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 373-236-1 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 1,060-654-7 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-OSU Recap: Arizona won its second-straight weekend series and captured its first road series win of the year by taking two-of-three games from Oregon State in Corvallis ... In Game 1, the Wildcats fell behind 5-1 in the early stages, before rallying to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning. But a leadoff error led to an unearned run scoring on a walk-off single by Ryan Dunn to give the Beavers a 6-5 win ... In Game 2, the Wildcats found themselves trailing again, but tied the game 3-3 in the eighth and then received back-to-back home runs by Bobby Brown and Riley Moore to take a two-run lead. The homers were the first in the careers of each player, and snapped a stretch of 616 at-bats without a homer for the club. Mathew Troupe gave up a run in the ninth, but stranding the tying runner at third as he collected the save in the 5-4 win ... In Game 3, a four-run fifth inning propelled UA to a 7-5 victory. Troupe closed the game by striking out the side in the rain in the bottom of the ninth inning to collect his second save ... Starters Konner Wade and James Farris each pitched 7.2 innings in no-decision efforts on Saturday and Sunday ... The Cats hit three home runs in the series to push their season tally to five ... The Cats turned in a strong weekend in the field, committing just one error - though it was costly in game one.
2011 UA-Stanford Recap: Stanford wrestled away two victories from the Wildcats to take the three-game series in Palo Alto last May 20-22 ... The Cardinal won Game 1 by a score of 1-0 in 11 innings following a walk-off single with two outs in the final frame ... The Wildcats captured Game 2 by a score of 7-3 as Kyle Simon improved to 10-3 on the season ... Stanford rallied with two runs in the bottom of the eighth to overtake the Wildcats in Game 3 and win by a score of 2-1 ... The Wildcats struggled to drive in runners in scoring position throughout the series, combining to hit 2-for-22 with RISP over the three games ... Meanwhile, Stanford was 6-for-19 with RISP, including two hits with two outs in the decisive eighth inning of Game 3 ... UA's starting pitching was strong, as Kurt Heyer, Kyle Simon and Konner Wade allowed three earned runs over 22.2 combined innings. They tallied 16 strikeouts - including 10 by Heyer - and walked just one batter ... Arizona hit just .216 at the plate in the series (Stanford hit .228), but Alex Mejia (6-for-11, .545) and Seth Mejias-Brean (4-for-8, .500) had strong weekends ... Bobby Rinard had three hits, including a double, as he scored two runs and drove in a run in the series ... Jett Bandy accounted for UA's only run on Sunday with a solo home run - his first of the season.
Comeback Cats: Arizona is developing a habit of falling behind early in games, something that has proven costly at times while other times simply serving as a wakeup call. The Wildcats have trailed in 17 of their 25 games in 2012, winning 10 and dropping seven of those contests. In fact, UA has fallen at some point in 12 straight games dating back to the Eastern Michigan game on March 10. Interestingly, it's a trend that has carried over from 2011. A season ago, the Cats trailed during 38 of their 60 games played. They posted a 17-21 mark in those games. So the early returns in 2012 could indicate that the club has learned how to rally from deficits. In reality, the Wildcats would prefer to get ahead and stay ahead and put this comeback business behind them. We'll see what the future has in store.
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 21-19 in the opening inning of ballgames. It's part of the reason UA has fallen behind in 12 straight games, and is something the Wildcats would like to turn around. As a team, UA is hitting .320 in the first inning of games, which is about average for all innings. Opponents, meanwhile, are batting .345 in the first inning off UA pitching, which is by far the highest of any inning.
Winning Weekends: The mantra for all good baseball teams is to win each series. In a standard three-game series, that means winning two-out-of-three each weekend. Do that during conference play and you'll be in contention for the league championship heading into the final weeks. It's something Arizona has been very good at since the end of the 2011 season. If you take the final five series of last year (April 29-May 1) and the first six of 2012, UA has won 10 of the last 11 weekend series it has played. That includes five sweeps and three series in which the Cats dropped the first game only to come back and win the final two. UA's only weekend setback in the last 11 weekends was at Stanford a year ago when the Cardinal won two-of-three. The Cardinal outlasted UA by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 in the two defeats the Wildcats suffered at Sunken Diamond. The Cats seek payback this year as they look to extend their run of winning on the weekends. Arizona (6-0) and Stanford (5-0) have yet to lose a weekend series this year, so something will have to give.
Power Surge: All it took was the Wildcats stepping aside from cavernous Hi Corbett Field and they ran into a few home runs. Arizona had hit just two home runs all season - both by Alex Mejia - heading into its series at Oregon State (3/23-25). The Cats had actually gone on an extended drought - 616 official at-bats and 17 games - before Bobby Brown and Riley Moore launched back-to-back solo home runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-3 lead over the Beavers in the second game of the series. For Brown, a fifth-year senior, the homer came in his 206th career at-bat. Moore, on the other, is a true freshman who belted his first career home run in his 74th official at bat. The following day, Mejia, a junior, collected his third homer of the season with a solo shot to give the Wildcats a two-run cushion in the sixth inning. Mejia had just one home run in his first two seasons at Arizona. He has gone from batting ninth in the Cats' batting order earlier this year to the No. 3 hole last weekend.
Fearsome Foursome: Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard have combined to make 560 starts in 569 total games played. They have missed a combined three games in their careers, with Rickard playing in all 143 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 730 base hits and 415 runs scored, hitting .331 (730-2208) as a group.
Strong Starts: Arizona has trotted out the same starting pitching rotation for all six weekend series in 2012. Junior Kurt Heyer takes the ball on Friday nights, with sophomores Konner Wade and James Farris on the hill on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively. Together, they've helped the Wildcats win each weekend series to date with a cumulative 10-2 pitching record and 3.30 ERA (46 earned runs in 125.1 innings). They've collected 109 strikeouts and issued just 34 total walks, with both Heyer (7) and Farris (5) still in single digits of the free-pass category. Farris is tied for the third-fewest walks in the league, while Wade has the fourth-most strikeouts (45) and Heyer has the seventh-best ERA (2.09).
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 2.09 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 43.0 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 283 strikeouts, which is believed to be the most in the nation for active pitchers (research courtesy Troy Prendergast at Troy University). Heyer's 283 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 2.67 ERA in his career, which includes 42 starts in 43 appearances.
`K'onner Wade: Sophomore RHP Konner Wade, the club's Saturday starter, has reached double-digit strikeouts in three of his six starts this season and has a team-high 45 on the season, which leads the Pac-12 Conference and ranks No. 25 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, 14 career starts), Wade has thrown 85.0 innings with a 2.86 ERA (27 ER).
The Setup Man-thei: Junior right-hander Stephen Manthei (pronounced man-THEE) has emerged as the Wildcats go-to setup guy and bridge to closer Mathew Troupe. Manthei is 4-2 on the season with a 3.44 ERA and one save to his credit in 18.1 innings pitched and 12 total appearances. He's been at his best in recent weeks, when he has turned in a stellar 1.76 ERA in 15.1 innings pitched over nine appearances. During that span, he has surrendered just three earned runs on eight hits and six walks, to go with eight strikeouts. Troupe, meanwhile, has taken over for the final outs of the game to earn four of his five saves during Manthei's last nine appearances.
Troupe Time: Freshman right-hander Mathew Troupe has emerged as Arizona's closer. On the job-training has been pressure-packed at times for the youngster, but so far he's passed some significant tests. Three of Troupe's five saves have come on the road at nationally-ranked foes Rice (3/14) and Oregon State (3/24-25). At Rice, Troupe worked himself into a jam that loaded the bases and brought the winning run to the plate before recording his third strikeout of the ninth to preserve an 8-5 Wildcat win. Last weekend at Oregon State, Troupe earned saves in each of the Wildcats' two victories. On Saturday, the righty allowed one run and had the tying run on third base, before recording the final two outs to preserve a narrow 5-4 victory. The next day, in cold and rainy conditions, Troupe struck out the side in the ninth to secure UA's 7-5, series-clinching victory over the Beavers. On the year, Troupe has a 2-0 record, a 2.81 ERA and five saves in 12 appearances. His five saves are tied for most in the Pac-12 and he's registered at least one strikeout in each game he has pitched. He's tallied 24 total strikeouts against six walks in 16.0 innings pitched.
In The Pac: Arizona leads the Pac-12 in several offensive statistical categories. Part of that is due to UA and Arizona State playing the most games of any team to date, but even UA's .322 batting average is tops in the conference. The Cats also lead in total runs (178), hits (275), RBI (162), triples (12), sacrifice flies (19) and stolen bases (44). Arizona ranks fourth in slugging (.427) and on-base percentage (.393), while striking out the fourth-fewest times (121) and walking the sixth-most times (81).
Ranked Foes: Arizona heads into another weekend against a nationally-ranked opponent after taking two-of-three at No. 19 Oregon State a weekend ago. To date, the Wildcats have played five games against teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25 Poll. The Wildcats split two at No. 8 Rice (3/13-15) a couple weeks ago, before winning the series with the Beavers. Arizona carries a 3-2 record against Baseball America Top 25 teams into this weekend's series with No. 2 Stanford. The Wildcats still have games with No. 6 UCLA (three games), No. 14 Arizona State (five games) and Oregon (three games) after this weekend. Of the 14 games against currently ranked teams to be played, including against Stanford, 12 of them are at Hi Corbett Field.
Seth's Streak: Seth Mejias-Brean is turning in his best season as a Wildcat in the first half of 2012. Mejias-Brean, who has made 136 starts at third base as a Wildcat, carries a .365 batting average and a career-best 18-game hitting streak into this weekend's action (also has a 24-game reached-base streak). His 28 RBI on the season not only rank second among Pac-12 players, but have matched 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 .387 (60-155) with 22 runs scored and 40 RBI over the course of 44 games. In his career, Mejias-Brean is a .322 hitter with 85 runs and 87 RBI.
UA's Iron Man: Junior centerfielder Joey Rickard has played in all 143 games of his Wildcat career, including 142 starts. That's 143 straight games played for Rickard, which puts him No. 9 in school history for consecutive games played. Provided he stays healthy and in the lineup, Rickard can move into the top-five by season's end. It's an impressive feat for a guy that has been UA's table-setter at the top of the order and one asked to roam the spacious outfields at Kindall/Sancet and Hi Corbett Field in his career. He's hitting .340 this season with nine doubles and 23 runs scored, which has improved his career average to .329. He has 45 extra base hits (28 2B, 5 3B and 12 HR), 119 runs scored and 101 RBI. He is three hits shy of 200 in his career.
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 leads the Wildcats in overall batting average (.398, fourth-highest in Pac-12) and on-base percentage (.487, fourth-highest in Pac-12), while his 11 extra base hits are also most on the club. He's scored 25 runs and added 26 RBI, while stealing a team-high nine bases. He's been the guy to have at the plate in key situations, hitting .553 with runners in scoring position. In his three-year career, Refsnyder has an impressive .343 batting average, 114 runs scored, 121 RBI and 50 extra base hits (30 2B, 12 3B, 8 HR).
Mejia Mania: An All-Pac-10 selection as a sophomore, shortstop Alex Mejia is turning in a sensational junior season. Mejia ranks second on the club and fifth in the Pac-12 with a .392 batting average entering this weekend, while his .559 slugging percentage ranks No. 9. The slugging has been boosted by six doubles, a triple and three home runs. The round-trippers lead the club and are his first since his freshman season after he snapped a streak of 371 at-bats without a home run earlier this season. Mejia has developed from a steady bottom of the order hitter to a guy that hit No. 3 in the lineup last weekend. In his career, Mejia boasts a .340 batting average, 97 runs scored, 183 hits and 97 RBI. Interestingly, Mejia has been even more efficient in conference games in his career, hitting .366 (80-218) with 34 runs and 29 RBI in 60 career league contests. Mejia was named a second team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
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.
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 9-2 when scoring first in a game, while five of their seven losses have come in games when the opponent scores first. One of the indicators has been first-inning runs. The Cardinal and Navy is 7-2 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.
Alive With Five: Five runs seems to be a pretty good breaking point for success for the Wildcats. In 2012, Arizona is 16-2 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 11-0. When opponents score five runs or more, UA has struggled at to a 7-7 clip.
Hitting the Road: Arizona has opened the season by playing 20 of its first 25 games at the friendly confines of historic Hi Corbett Field. The upcoming schedule is a bit more adventurous. The Wildcats are set to play four straight roadies in Utah next week, and eight of their next 11 contests are away from home. In fact, UA's final 30 regular season games include half (15) on the road and at home.
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 277-25-1 (.917) in the last 303 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 15-1 in such games (NMSU loss on 3/20).
.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. This year, the Wildcats are hitting .322 through 25 games.
On Deck: Arizona hits the road for four games next week and faces a bit of an odd schedule. The Wildcats, who defeated Utah Valley 12-6 on Feb. 21, take on the Wolverines in a single non-conference game in Orem, Utah, on Wednesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. (MDT). Arizona then resumes Pac-12 Conference action against Utah for a three-game, Thursday-Saturday series at Salt Lake City April 5-7.