No. 11 Arizona owns a one-game lead in the Pac-12 standings, but steps aside for a three-game non-conference series against East Tennessee State this weekend (April 27-29).
April 26, 2012
|2012 Arizona Baseball
April 27-29, 2012 | Tucson, Ariz. | Hi Corbett Field
East Tennessee State (19-21, 6-12 Atlantic Sun) @ No. 11 Arizona Wildcats (26-13, 12-6 Pac-12)
Friday, April 27 • 6 p.m. (MST) • Hi Corbett Field • UA Radio: None
RHP Jake Long (2-5, 3.11) vs. RHP Kurt Heyer (7-1, 1.96)
Live Video • GameTracker
Saturday, April 28 • 4 p.m. (MST) • Hi Corbett Field • UA Radio: None
RHP John Long (5-4, 4.17) vs. RHP Konner Wade (5-1, 3.84)
Live Video • GameTracker
Sunday, April 29 • Noon (MST) • Hi Corbett Field • UA Radio: None
RHP Kerry Doane (4-2, 2.87) vs. RHP James Farris (4-2, 4.33)
Live Video • GameTracker
|Some Series Themes
|Arizona steps away from the heat of the Pac-12 race with its open week in the new unbalanced conference schedule … The first-ever meetings between the two schools … The Buccaneers bring a whopping 45 home runs to Hi Corbett Field, a venue that has surrendered just seven total home runs in 26 games to date … A pair of Bucs – Matthew Scruggs (17) and Dylan Pratt (15) – have more long balls than Arizona (10) as a team … Kurt Heyer carries a stretch of three-straight complete games into Friday’s start … The Bucs sport a statistically solid pitching staff that has 276 strikeouts and just 108 walks on the year, led by weekend starters Jake and John Long … Meanwhile, UA’s pitching staff is second in the Pac-12 with 279 strikeouts and will square off with an ETSU club that has struck out 248 times on the year … Will Joey Rickard be back in the lineup for the Cats after missing the first and only game of his 156-game career?UA has a six-game homestand on tap, followed by a season-long seven-game road stretch …
||Baseball America Rankings
|Game Notes (PDF)
|Season Statistics (PDF)
|2012 Media Guide
|East Tennessee State vs. Arizona Statistical Comparison
||Arizona Statistical Leaders
|East Tennessee State
|19-21 (6-12 Atlantic Sun)
||26-13 (12-6 Pac-12)
||Seth Mejias-Brean (.381)
||Alex Mejia (60)
||Johnny Field (38)
||Robert Refsnyder (40)
||Robert Refsnyder (4)
||Johnny Field (.442)
||Seth Mejias-Brean (.516)
||Kurt Heyer (1.96)
||Kurt Heyer (78.0)
||Konner Wade (66)
|Arizona Baseball Game Notes:
- Arizona’s next win will be its 2,600th all-time.
- UA’s .320 batting average ranks No. 7 in the NCAA.
- The Cats have hit 27 sacrifice flies, ninth-most in the nation.
- Joey Rickard missed last Sunday’s game, snapping a streak of 156 straight games played – sixth-longest in school history.
- Kurt Heyer has thrown three-straight complete games and is one-third of an inning shy of cracking the career top-10 for innings pitched at UA.
- UA has turned a double play in nine of the last 10 games and has a total of 12 in that stretch.
- The UA pitching staff has thrown eight complete games in 2012, the most in a season for the school since 1990.
- Bobby Brown has hit safely in 15 of the last 16 games – all starts at DH.
- UA leads the Pac-12 with 84 doubles.
- The Cats are 23-0 when leading after 8 innings.
- UA is 0-9 when getting out-hit by an opponent.
- Hi Corbett Field has surrendered just seven home runs in 26 games this year.
Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez: The Wildcats are coached by Andy Lopez, who is now in his 11th season with a 381-242-1 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 1,068-660-7 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-WASH Recap: Arizona won its third Pac-12 road series in as many tries by taking two of three at Washington … Kurt Heyer threw a complete-game seven-hitter and struck out five as UA cruised to a 10-2 victory in the opener … Konner Wade matched that effort with a complete-game six-hitter in UA’s 4-2 Game 2 victory … The Huskies salvaged a win in the finale with three runs in the eighth to take a 5-4 lead, before UA tied it in the ninth and eventually lost in the 12th … It was UA’s first extra innings game of the season … James Farris threw 7.1 strong innings with a career-high seven strikeouts in a no-decision in the finale … Joey Rickard scored five runs and drove in two more in the first two games before seeing a string of 156 consecutive games played snapped due to injury when he missed Sunday’s game … Robert Refnsyder went 5-for-13 on the weekend and hit his team-leading fourth home run in the opener … UA rapped out 14 extra base hits, including 13 doubles, in the series.
One Away From 2,600: Arizona baseball’s next win will be the 2,600th all-time victory for the program, which sported its first club in 1904. Only seven schools in NCAA history can claim 2,600 wins, including Fordham, Texas, USC, Michigan, Stanford, Arizona State and Florida State. When the Wildcats reach the mark, they will be the eighth such school to do so, including the fourth from the Pac-12. Arizona captured win No. 2,500 on February 19, 2010, when Kurt Heyer made his collegiate debut in a six-inning, 13-strikeout performance en route to an 8-1 season-opening victory over Utah Valley at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
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. One day earlier, Rickard’s cleats got caught up in the artificial turf on a successful steal attempt at second base. 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’s status remains questionable this week as he recovers from a bone bruise, though he is not expected to miss any significant time and could be cleared to play this weekend if he is 100-percent.
Heyer Goes The Distance: Junior right-hander Kurt Heyer has turned in a remarkable three-game stretch with three complete-game victories in a row. His wins have come at Utah, at home against UCLA and on the road at Washington. In those three contests, he has a 1.67 ERA, 11 strikeouts and just three walks in 27.0 innings pitched. On the season, Heyer has four of UA’s eight complete games. In his career, Heyer has thrown seven complete games. With 318.1 innings pitched in his career, Heyer is one-third of an inning away from tying Rich Hinton (1967-69) for the 10th-most innings pitched at Arizona and one full inning away from matching Dave Breuker (1972-74) for the No. 9 spot on the UA charts.
Complete Games Part I: Kurt Heyer’s three consecutive complete games are 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 marks 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 last weekend at Washington. It was the Wildcats’ seventh homer in 13 road games on the year, compared to just three in 26 tilts at cavernous Hi Corbett Field. The home venue has surrendered just seven long balls this season. If the Cats hit homers at the same clip at home as they do on the road, they would have 14 in 26 games. Alas, they have learned to settle for doubles and triples instead. Arizona leads the Pac-12 with 84 doubles and is second with 15 triples. Despite the lack of gopher balls, UA ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with a .426 slugging percentage.
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 23 of its last 26 games (12-11 record when trailing) and in 28 of 39 on the season (15-13). 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.
Fearsome Foursome: Juniors Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Robert Refsnyder and Joey Rickard have combined to make 615 starts in 624 total games played. They have missed a combined four 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 811 base hits and 458runs scored, hitting .333 (811-2439) as a group.
Strikeouts And Walks: Arizona has a pretty good mix on both sides of the equation. Arizona’s pitching staff has struck out 279 batters (No. 2 in Pac-12) and has issued only 110 walks (fourth-fewest in Pac-12). James Farris (44:9) and Kurt Heyer (62:12) has the best strikeout:walk ratios on the club. Meanwhile, UA hitters have struck out just 186 times (second-fewest in Pac-12). While their 124 walks drawn ranks No. 8 in the league, they have drawn the second-most (62) in conference-only games. On the year, Seth Mejias-Brean (15 BB, 10 SO), Robert Refsnyder (16 BB, 16 SO), Joseph Maggi (6 BB, 6 SO) and Johnny Field (27 BB, 21 SO) have drawn at least as many walks as strikeouts.
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 Wildcats with a .381 batting average in 39 games this year. It’s the fifth-best clip in the Pac-12 and his 14 doubles are tied for the most in the league. The junior has scored 36 runs (No. 5 in Pac-12) and added 38 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 .398 (84-214) with 36 runs scored and 50 RBI over the course of 58 games. He recently had a 21-game hitting streak snapped, but has still hit safely in 50 of the last 58 games dating back to 2011. In his career, Mejias-Brean is a .331 hitter with 99 runs and 97 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 7-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 78.0 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 305 strikeouts, which is believed to be the most in the nation for active pitchers (research courtesy Troy Prendergast at Troy University). Heyer’s 305 strikeouts are 7th-most in program history and narrowly trails Joe Magrane’s (1983-85) 306. David Baldwin (1957-59) holds the No. 5 spot with 312 career punch-outs. Heyer, from Huntington Beach, Calif., has made 46 starts in his career, which is tied with Ron Sismondo (1979-82), Kevin Guyette (2003-05) and Kyle Simon (2009-11) for fifth-most in school history. Heyer boasts a 22-10 record and a 2.57 ERA with just 67 walks in 318.1 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 26 walks and 13 hit batsmen in 72.2 innings of work. At the same time, he’s struck out 66 batters (3rd in the Pac-12) and limited foes to a .229 batting average. The 66 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 (7-1, 18 career starts), Wade has thrown 112.2 innings with a 3.12 ERA (39 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 12 games, is third on the club in overall batting average (.370, No. 8 in Pac-12), while his .558 slugging percentage is tops on the team (No. 6 in Pac-12) thanks to a team-leading 18 extra base hits. Refsnyder has walked 16 times and been hit by a pitch 10 other times, boosting his on-base percentage to a team-high .459 (No. 6 in Pac-12) In addition, he’s scored 34 runs and added 38 RBI (No. 3 in Pac-12), while stealing nine bases. He’s been the guy to have at the plate in key situations, hitting .492 with runners in scoring position. In his three-year career, Refsnyder has an impressive .341 batting average, 123 runs scored, 135 RBI and 57 extra base hits (33 2B, 12 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 where he led the Wildcats with a .556 average (10-for-18) in four games and collecting a pair of doubles and scored six runs. His recent stretch of play has raised his batting average from a season-low .294 all the way to its current .315 clip. On the season, Field has scored a team-high 38 runs, which is second only to UCLA’s Beau Amaral in the Pac-12. He has also drawn a league-leading 27 walks to give him a .442 on-base percentage. He hit in the leadoff spot and played centerfield in place of Joey Rickard last Sunday.
Brown Delivers: Bobby Brown has started each of the last 16 games at designated hitter, a move that has paid dividends for Brown and the Wildcats. The senior had built an 11-game hitting streak that was snapped against UCLA on April 15, but he has since hit safely in each game to give him a run of 15-of-16 games with a hit. Over those 16 contests he is batting 23-for-66 (.348) with 11 runs scored and 15 runs batted in. His five doubles, two triples and first career home run in the last 15 games has raised his season slugging percentage to .471. Brown’s batting average has risen from .211 to its current .298 mark. On the season, Brown has made 24 starts and played in 29 games. He has nearly as many RBI (26) as base hits (31) on the season. His 26 runs batted in have also surpassed his career tally of 23 that he carried into the 2012 campaign.
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 team and seventh in the Pac-12 with a .370 batting average entering this week. He is slugging .488 on the season, which is third on the team, and has been boosted by eight doubles, a triple 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. 3 in the lineup. In his career, Mejia boasts a .339 batting average, 106 runs scored, 203 hits and 109 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 127 assists are 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 31-25 in the opening inning of ballgames. It’s part of the reason UA has fallen behind in 23 of their last 26 games, and is something the Wildcats would like to turn around. As a team, UA is hitting .312 in the first inning of games, which is below average for all innings. Opponents, meanwhile, are batting .331 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 57,889 fans in 26 games (avg. 2,226), 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 13-5 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 9-4 when scoring in the first inning this year, and just 3-8 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 21-5 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 17-0. When opponents score five runs or more, UA has struggled at to a 9-13 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 283-28-1 (.910) in the last 309 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 21-4 in such games.
On Deck:Arizona resumes Pac-12 Conference play with a home showdown against No. 10 Oregon next weekend at Hi Corbett Field (May 4-6). Thereafter, the Wildcats hit the road for seven straight games, including a three-game series at California (May 11-13), a non-conference game at Arizona State (May 16) and a three-game series at USC (May 18-20). The regular season concludes at home against Arizona State (May 25-27).