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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Team profits from hard knocks

    in the crosshairs

    Taking one for the team. Wearing it. Crowding the plate. Dropping a shoulder. In the box score, it is simply referred to as hit by pitch.

    No matter what lexicon is used, the members of the Arizona baseball team have been no strangers this season to earning themselves a quick and easy trip to first base.

    In 30 games this season, the Wildcats have been hit by 59 total pitches this season. To put that number in perspective, Arizona opponents have been hit only 19 times.

    Case in point: In Friday’s loss to No. 11 Oregon State, junior shortstop Jason Donald, sophomore third baseman Colt Sedbrook, freshman first baseman Brad Glenn and senior designated hitter Derek Decater were all plunked by a pitch.

    On Sunday, Sedbrook, freshmen outfielders David Plante and Jon Gaston also earned a free pass to first base.

    Surprisingly, Arizona is second in the Pacific 10 Conference in hit by pitch, while Washington State leads the league, after being hit a collective 62 times.

    Even against a hard-throwing hurler – like ASU junior reliever Zechry Zinicola – Sedbrook sacrificed himself at the inaugural Challenge at Chase on April 2.

    “”Man, when he got hit by Zinicola the other night, I said, ‘Boy, he really is nuts,'”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “”When a guy is throwing 94 or 95 (mph) and, ‘Whack,’ he gets hit by the first pitch, and he goes down the line – I’ve never asked him, but he must like getting hit.””

    Sedbrook leads the Wildcats and the Pac-10, having been hit 18 times, and is one pitch away from breaking Donald’s single-season record of 19 set last season. At this rate, Sedbrook is on track to not only replace Donald’s single-season record but also his career mark, as Donald is Arizona’s all-time HBP leader with 35.

    “”It’s just the way the pitchers are trying to pitch me,”” said Sedbrook on why he is a target for opposing pitchers. “”I think they’re saying, ‘A nine-hole hitter probably has slow hands.’ A guy that is hitting in the nine-hole is probably real good on hitting outside hitters, and they are trying to throw in and they miss in, and so I’m taking advantage of that.

    “”They want to have command of the plate. If they do that, they’re going to show they’re the dominant force.””

    Sedbrook, who was once warned five times over a weekend series for leaning in, batted ninth in the lineup earlier in the season but since has been moved up to bat second or fifth.

    Lopez said he doesn’t mind Sedbrook’s tendency to get hit, but he just wants to make sure the third baseman stays injury-free.

    “”I don’t want to see him get hurt,”” Lopez said. “”We can’t afford many more injuries. That’s part of his offense, so it’s hard for me to say, ‘Let’s take away a part of his offense.'””

    In addition to getting hit, Sedbrook is more than capable of putting the bat on the ball, as he leads the team with a .316 batting average. Because he has many methods of getting on base, Sedbrook is a tough out as proven by his team-high .447 on-base percentage.

    Donald said his HBP record is not taken too seriously between the players.

    “”It’s a nice accomplishment to have, but if Colt wants it, he can have it,”” said Donald, who is third on the team with six HBP this season. “”It’s not really something I hold too near and dear to my heart. It’s more of a joke a little bit.

    “”It’s definitely painful, but it’s just part of the game. If Colt keeps wearing pitches and getting on base and I keep wearing pitches to get on base, it’s a great opportunity for us to score.””

    Although a single and hit by pitch have the same result, Donald said he’d take the single any day.

    “”It’s more gratifying to get a base hit, but if you’re going to get on by hit by pitch, you’ll take it,”” he said.

    Glenn, who is second on the team, having been hit eight times this season, disagreed with Donald and said there is more satisfaction in getting hit because of the pain that goes along with the free base.

    “”There’s a little bit more pride in standing there and taking it,”” he said. “”It shows that you really care about your team, that you don’t mind getting hit by pitch for your team.

    “”I stand really close to the plate,”” Glenn continued. “”There’s been a few times where they’ve thrown a curveball that might even break over the plate for a strike, and I just kind of lean into it and take it.””

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