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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Road test awaits baseball in Fullerton

    Southpaw Brad Mills prepares to fire during Arizonas 12-1 win over Gonzaga Feb. 4. Mills has started the season on a tear, leading the team with a 1.32 ERA en route to winning his first two starts.
    Southpaw Brad Mills prepares to fire during Arizona’s 12-1 win over Gonzaga Feb. 4. Mills has started the season on a tear, leading the team with a 1.32 ERA en route to winning his first two starts.

    It may be riding a near-flawless start to the season, but the Arizona baseball team remains largely untested. A three-game set at No. 12 Cal State Fullerton this weekend will change that.

    At 8-0, the Wildcats are off to their best start since the 2005 season, when they started 9-0, but Arizona’s 2007 opponents to date – Gonzaga, Utah Valley State and New Mexico – sport a combined 3-10 record.

    “”Obviously results are good so far,”” said lefty Brad Mills, who will start tomorrow. “”It doesn’t matter who you play, I mean you’ve got to win ’em all, even if you’re playing bad teams.””

    Still, Mills admits, the Gonzagas, Utah Valley States and New Mexicos of the world are no Cal State Fullerton, a program with 12 national championships to its name.

    “”Playing good teams is what it’s all about. That’s why everyone comes here,”” he said. “”Obviously we’re not looking at it like the biggest supreme test of all time or whatever, but I think it’ll definitely be better than what we’ve seen.””

    Earlier this week, there was a distinct difference with the way experienced and inexperienced players were treating the series.

    Said Friday night starter Preston Guilmet, who gave up four runs in a loss to Fullerton last year: “”No matter who it is, it’s just a game and another opponent that’s just going to come out and they’re going to play hard.””

    Added designated hitter C.J. Ziegler, who will be facing Fullerton for the first time: “”From what I’ve heard, I think it is something special. … It’s always a dog fight.””

    But it was Mills who had arguably the best take on the series.

    “”They don’t run anything that we haven’t seen in practice,”” he said. “”They’re actually really similar to what we try to do as far as running

    As far as them being real good, or whatever everyone thinks, that plays some into it, but not really. I think as long as we simplify it, and view it even as an extended intrasquad, we’ll be fine.

    -Brad Mills, senior pitcher

    the bases and taking extra bases and playing hard.

    “”So it’s really like playing an intrasquad, just against different players,”” he added. “”I think it’ll be real familiar.

    “”As far as them being real good, or whatever everyone thinks, that plays some into it, but not really. I think as long as we simplify it, and view it even as an extended intrasquad, we’ll be fine.””

    Save for a bump in the road in last Friday’s 9-6 win over New Mexico that saw the bullpen walk seven batters in just three innings, just about everything has gone the Wildcats’ way during the early part of their season.

    The team is hitting .367 with 41 extra-base hits – including 11 home runs – and 74 RBIs. And there’s only been one half inning the entire season where Arizona has trailed.

    “”The one thing I’m very pleased with is they’ve really done a good job of being patient,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”I don’t see a lot of first-pitch at-bats and first-pitch outs.””

    Through 72 innings, the pitching staff has a 2.00 ERA, allowing opponents to hit just .183 while striking out 66.

    Anchored by Friday night starter Preston Guilmet (1-0), who threw eight no-hit innings to open the season, and Mills (2-0), who leads the team with a 1.32 ERA, the staff has been the night to last season’s proverbial day when Arizona hurlers had a 4.69 ERA through eight games.

    “”I don’t feel like I have a Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night guy,”” Lopez said. “”I feel like it’s Friday A, Friday B, and we’ll go from there. It’s very comforting.””

    The Titans (5-1), meanwhile, have a formidable staff of their own.

    Fullerton’s ace, righty Wes Roemer, is widely considered one of the top pitchers in baseball.

    As a sophomore last season, Roemer shared the NCAA’s Player of the Year honors with James Madison outfielder Kellen Kulbacki after he went 13-2 with a 2.38 ERA striking out 145 batters against just seven walks in 155 innings of work.

    Roemer, who was slowed down by an injured pinky on his pitching hand earlier this spring, has shown no ill effects of late, striking out 15 against only one walk in picking up wins in both of his starts this season.

    “”The one thing he has is a lot of presence,”” Lopez said. “”He throws 88-89 (mph), he’s got a slider and does a good job, but he’s a strike-thrower.

    “”He’s what you want as a college pitcher.””

    Even with the prospect of facing Roemer, Arizona was high on its fast start.

    “”I think it’s a great way to roll into Fullerton,”” Ziegler said. “”I think that they know that they’ve got something coming to them, and that we’re going to come out fired up.””

    Sedbrook to miss rest of semester

    Lopez said earlier this week that infielder Colt Sedbrook is ineligible and won’t be available to play at all the rest of the semester.

    But Lopez added that there’s a chance the junior could see the field after the semester ends, meaning the earliest he could potentially play is the May 12-14 series against USC and also be available for the postseason should Arizona qualify.

    “”We’re all accountable for things that we do and don’t do, and the guys that we’ve got to work with right now are the guys that are out there and ready to go,”” Lopez said. “”Obviously, there’s a lack of experience from not having Colt, but we’ve got to move on.””

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