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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Bouncing back

The theme for Arizona’s weekend series with Southern California was change.

The pitching rotation was overhauled, the lineup was shuffled and the entire team wore its pant legs up — leading to Arizona’s first series sweep in Pacific 10 Conference play.

“”That was obviously a very good weekend,”” head coach Andy Lopez said. “”I don’t think we’re a bad club. We struggled a little bit out of the chute, but no one’s going to ask what your record was in April and March if you finish strong in May.””

Arizona (27-16, 9-9 Pac-10) kicked off the weekend in walk-off fashion, topping USC 4-3 in 10 innings. Kyle Simon, who started the first series-opening game of his career, threw 6.1 innings while scattering nine hits and allowing three runs.

The Wildcats tied the game on a Cole Frenzel RBI single in the 8th inning, and Matt Chaffee threw three scoreless innings leading to the bottom of the 10th.

Bryce Ortega led off the extra frame by being hit by a pitch, and then advanced to second on a Frenzel sacrifice bunt. Johnny Field blooped a single to right off of former high school teammate Brandon Garcia, giving Arizona its third walk-off win of the season.

“”He just threw me a two-seamer that ran in on my hands,”” Field said. “”I didn’t hit it good at all, but I’ll take it.””

Although Field ended the game against his ex-teammate, he isn’t going to rub it in — at least not yet.

“”I won’t call him right away,”” Field said. “”That was my first walk-off hit in college, and it’s pretty fun that it came against Brandon (Garcia).””

Saturday’s game was a different story. Arizona reached a new season-high for runs scored, winning 20-4. Freshman Konner Wade got his first start in Pac-10 play and allowed 4 runs over 4.1 innings before giving way to sophomore left-hander Vincent Littleman, who allowed just three hits over 4.2 scoreless innings.

“”Lately, I’ve been working on my curveball and I threw it for the first time in a couple weeks (Saturday),”” Littleman said. “”Now I’m just trying to pound the zone. With that big lead, it got me more comfortable and relaxed me.””

Every player in the Arizona starting lineup had a hit and scored a run in the blowout of the Trojans (18-25, 8-10) Pac-10, and Rob Refsnyder drove in five runs. The Wildcats also scored more runs Saturday (20) than in their previous two Pac-10 series combined (16).

“”It’s nice to have a game like this,”” Refsnyder said. “”It’s nice to go on a roll. Konner (Wade) did a good job establishing everything.””

After clinching the series win on Saturday, the Wildcats entered Sunday with a chance at their first weekend sweep since March 19-21 against San Francisco.

Arizona ace Kurt Heyer started Sunday’s game after throwing more than 100 pitches against ASU on Tuesday, and was visibly tired — allowing five runs on nine hits in just 5.1 innings pitched, but Arizona was able to chip away at an early USC lead to take the series finale, 8-5.

“”(Starting Heyer) was a roll of the dice,”” Lopez said. “”I woke up this morning and said, ‘It’s not going to be that easy today.’ We were bringing him back twice in 11 days, and that’s not going to be normal for any of these guys.””

Though Lopez gave Heyer credit for taking the ball on Tuesday and bouncing back to throw again on Sunday, Heyer wasn’t looking for any moral victories.

“”(Lopez) said I battled out there, and as much as I like to think that, it just wasn’t my day today,”” Heyer said. “”At this point in the season, I need to be a lot more focused.””

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