Down go the defending champs

UA ace Preston Guilmet, left, congratulates first baseman C.J. Ziegler after scoring one of his four runs in Arizonas 17-14 win over No. 4 Oregon State yesterday at Sancet Stadium. Ziegler went 5-for-5 with two RBIs in the contest to help Arizona sweep the series.

UA ace Preston Guilmet, left, congratulates first baseman C.J. Ziegler after scoring one of his four runs in Arizona’s 17-14 win over No. 4 Oregon State yesterday at Sancet Stadium. Ziegler went 5-for-5 with two RBIs in the contest to help Arizona sweep the series.

John Ryan Casey

It had been nearly a year since Oregon State lost a series and nearly three since it was swept.

The Arizona baseball team took care of the latter Saturday, then yesterday’s 17-14 win put an emphasis on an opening-weekend sweep in the Pacific 10 Conference of the No. 4 Beavers at Sancet Stadium.

“”We wanted to come out and start out with a bang, and we did,”” said first baseman C.J. Ziegler, who finished 5-for-5 with four runs scored and two RBIs yesterday.

Oregon State (23-6, 0-3 Pac-10), the defending national champion, had not been swept since May 14-16, 2004, at ASU.

Arizona (25-6, 3-0) extended its winning streak to 11 games and is now two wins shy of matching its win total from all of 2006, when the Wildcats went 27-28.

The weekend sweep of a conference opponent was Arizona’s first in five seasons.

“”We were projected to finish (fifth) in the (Pac-10, by coaches) … but we want to come out and show people who we are,”” said second baseman Colt Sedbrook. “”They might test us and say ‘Arizona’s not very good.’ Bullshit. We’re going to come out and show you we can play the game of baseball and we can play the game of baseball well.””

The Wildcats used a second-consecutive complete game from ace Preston Guilmet to take Friday’s game 5-4, then an equally impressive outing from lefty Brad Mills in Saturday’s 8-2 win to take a stranglehold on the series.

But yesterday it was a different recipe, as Arizona scored in every inning but one to redeem poor pitching – pitching that allowed the Beavers to make things interesting by scoring six runs in the top of the ninth and ending with the go-ahead run at the plate.

“”Our offense bailed out the arms,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”We did not pitch well by any stretch of the imagination.””

Third baseman Brad Glenn went 3-for-4 with a season-high five RBIs, and the Wildcats used three runs in the first and four more in the third to jump out to an early 7-1 lead.

Arizona went on to pound out 16 hits, walk six times, get hit by six pitches and steal five bases.

“”I think we’re starting to find a rhythm as a ball club,”” Glenn said. “”It was on the pitching side, but now on the offensive side as well.””

Wildcat starter David Coulon entered the game with a 6.89 ERA at home, compared to 2.93 on the road, and yesterday’s outing was no exception to the trend. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs on five walks and five hits. He now has a 7.11 ERA at Sancet.

His Beaver counterpart wasn’t much better. OSU starter Daniel Turpen (6-1) went just 2 1/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits and two walks in the losing effort.

Freshman Paul Bargas (3-1) picked up the win for Arizona, surrendering four runs, two earned, in three innings.

Saturday night’s win handed the Beavers their first series loss since May 12-14 of last season at ASU.

From the get-go, Mills kept the Beavers off balance – and he got started quick, striking out five through the first three innings.

Mills went 6 2/3 innings before righty Jason Stoffel took over in the seventh with the bases loaded and a five-run lead.

“”Where I come from, that doesn’t happen very much,”” shortstop Robert Abel said of Mills’ outing.

Stoffel walked the first batter he faced, forcing in a run to make it 6-2 Arizona, but didn’t allow another run – or hit – the rest of the way, earning his first career save.

The run was charged to Mills (6-2), who finished with eight strikeouts against four walks in picking up the win.

The outing was a stark contrast to his only other start this season against a top-10 opponent, Feb. 17 at then-No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, when Mills couldn’t make it out of the third inning.

“”Fullerton’s still on my mind sometimes,”” Mills said Saturday. “”My goal’s not to get pulled in the fourth, hanging five or six runs. I want to get deep in the game and give my team a chance to win. That’s ultimately the goal.””

Mills was helped by a balanced offense that saw five different Wildcats drive in runs, including Abel and his three RBIs.

But as good as Arizona played Saturday night, Gaston felt the Wildcats left runs on the table.

“”We should have blown them out,”” he said Saturday. “”A couple of base-running miscues and – it should have been a lot bigger blowout.””

In the Friday game, Guilmet struck out 10 en route to his second-consecutive complete game.

The right-hander gave up three earned runs on seven hits while walking two on a season-high 132 pitches.

It marked the second time that Guilmet (6-0) had out-dueled a top-10 opponent this season, having beaten Fullerton 2-1 on Feb. 16.

“”You could speak worlds of that kid, he’s just amazing,”” Glenn said Friday. “”He’s one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen.””

Guilmet saw his streak of consecutive scoreless innings end at 21 2/3 on Beaver catcher Mitch Canham’s first-inning two-run homer but cruised the rest of the way, allowing only one earned run over the next eight innings.

“”From there on, it was like, ‘This isn’t happening again,'”” Guilmet said of the first inning Friday night. “”It kind of knocked me into realism when I gave that home run up.””

Friday’s loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for Oregon State.

Arizona now has its longest winning streak since starting the 1999 season 13-0.

“”Coming out and sweeping them, the pitching performance we got from Guilmet Friday night and the success (Saturday) with Mills and Stoffel – unreal,”” Sedbrook said. “”And then (yesterday), we finally swung the bats.””

Extra bases

Guilmet was forced to go the full nine, and Mills was stretched to 126 pitches, because closer Daniel Schlereth was unavailable all weekend after straining an oblique muscle in Wednesday’s win over No. 16 ASU in Phoenix.

Lopez sent Schlereth to the bullpen in the sixth inning of Friday’s game to see if he felt healthy enough to pitch, but after throwing, the lefty told Lopez he wouldn’t be able to close.

Weekend series sets record attendance

Apparently, the e-mails from Zona Zoo finally paid off.

Baseball’s series against No. 4 Oregon State saw 7,127 fans pass through Sancet Stadium Friday though yesterday, the most since 7,656 came out to see Arizona play then-No. 2 Texas in 2005.

“”There’s electricity in the stands when you have people showing up,”” UA head coach Andy Lopez said Saturday night, after an 8-2 win over OSU in front of a crowd of 2,132, “”but I told my guys a couple years ago, ‘Hey, if nobody shows up, you’re supposed to play good baseball.’ They show up, that’s even better.””

Friday night’s game set a season high for attendance at 2,778 (Oregon State fans accounted for an estimated one-fourth of the crowd), crushing the mark of 1,422 set Feb. 27 against then-No. 14 ASU. There were 2,217 in attendance for yesterday afternoon’s game, a 17-14 UA win to complete the sweep of the Beavers.

– Melissa Krueger