Baseball tries to rebound from ‘firestorm’

Left fielder Brad Glenn runs a ball down during Arizonas 22-8 loss to ASU Tuesday at Sancet Stadium. Glenn and the Wildcats will try to put the loss behind them during this weekends series with Eastern Michigan.

Left fielder Brad Glenn runs a ball down during Arizona’s 22-8 loss to ASU Tuesday at Sancet Stadium. Glenn and the Wildcats will try to put the loss behind them during this weekend’s series with Eastern Michigan.

John Ryan Casey

Three days after a loss one member of the team called “”the worst game we could have ever played”” and the head coach dubbed a “”firestorm,”” the Arizona baseball team is out to prove it isn’t the team that showed that day.

The loss, a 22-8 drubbing at the hands of No. 14 ASU, has left a number of Wildcats just wanting to turn the calendar.

“”The night we had on Tuesday, I wouldn’t want to have that in an intrasquad,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez, “”but it’s over with, and we’ll move on.

“”You’re never measured by one game.””

A game that saw the Sun Devils open the game with eight straight hits, push eight runs across in the first frame, and 10 more over the next three innings, Tuesday night was forgettable to say the least.

“”If you don’t put it behind you, then it’s just going to be on your back forever,”” said left fielder Brad Glenn. “”It’s just something that we have to let go of. It happens in baseball.””

“”We just look at that as motivation,”” added closer Daniel Schlereth. “”That was the worst game we could have ever played.

“”We’re not worried about it. We just know that we can’t ever play like that again.””

Today at 4 p.m., the Wildcats (11-4) turn their attention to an underrated Eastern Michigan squad that’s faced two squads from the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.

The Eagles (1-6) opened their season by losing two-of-three at then-No. 20 Tennessee, and dropped an 8-7 decision to East Tennessee State before they were then swept by No. 4 South Carolina last weekend.

But all six losses have come by an average of 3.5 runs, and Lopez called Eastern Michigan’s Friday and Saturday starters – Jeff Fisher and George Biddle, respectively – “”legitimate arms.””

Both righties, Fisher (0-1, 3.52 ERA), the reigning Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year, and Biddle (0-1, 2.03) lead the team with six strikeouts apiece.

Arizona will counter with righty Preston Guilmet (2-0), who’s been nearly unhittable all season, holding opponents to a .182 average, on Friday, and will throw lefty Brad Mills (3-1) Saturday at 1 p.m.

Mills rebounded from a rough outing two weeks ago at then-No. 12 Fullerton by tossing six solid innings in Saturday’s 9-3 win over UNLV.

“”That Fullerton game wasn’t me,”” Mills said of the 9-0 loss Feb. 17 when he gave up eight runs, five earned to the Titans in just 2 1/3 innings. “”That’s going to drive me the rest of the season. I’m not going to be like that.””

The ability to rebound was something that impressed his head coach.

“”He didn’t show that ability the last two years,”” Lopez said. “”He would really carry one performance to the next.””

Added Mills: “”Last year, if I had a bad outing, it would carry over a couple times, and I was real determined after Fullerton not to let it happen again.””

In the Fullerton outing, his defense wasn’t of much help, committing three of the five errors it made in the game in the first two innings.

“”Once the errors happened,”” Mills said, “”I kind of unraveled.””

In his next start against the Rebels last Saturday, the defense made another early error, but Mills was able to pitch around it.

“”I was even glad they made a couple mistakes behind me against UNLV, because it gave me an opportunity to kind of pitch with some toughness and pitch out of some jams,”” Mills said.

“”That’ll help me over the course of the season, because as much as I like to think that they’re going to make all the plays and everything’s going to go right, there’s going to be problems behind you no matter what, and you’ve learn to pitch out of them.””

David Coulon (2-0) will make his second straight start Sunday at noon.

Though Ryan Perry, whom Lopez has called the best pitcher during fall ball, remains out with an injury to his non-throwing arm, the rest of the Arizona pitching staff will get a boost this weekend from the return of righty Jason Stoffel. The freshman missed the UNLV trip and Tuesday’s loss because of an undisclosed illness but should be available to play against the Eagles.

On the offensive side of things, Lopez moved center fielder T.J. Steele to the leadoff spot against ASU and intends to keep him there.

Lopez said the move was made because Steele had an “”extremely poor average with people in scoring position and on base, and an extremely good average with nobody on base.””

The lone question mark in Lopez’s lineup remains at third base, where the battle to start is between sophomore Travis Peep and freshmen Erik Castro and Kevin Rodland.

“”I don’t know if that’s going to get cleared up or not,”” Lopez said. “”We’re waiting for someone to separate themselves there.””

Castro started the first 11 games at the hot corner, but Peep has started the past four games in his place when Castro began to struggle offensively. Rodland, displaced from second base when junior Colt Sedbrook returned to the team after dealing with personal issues, will also get a chance this weekend, Lopez said.

“”Worst-case scenario, we could do a little platooning there, because Castro’s a left-handed hitter, and a good hitter,”” Lopez said.