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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcats drop wild game 2

    The Arizona baseball team found themselves in a wild game of catch-up Saturday night. After poor starting pitching left the Wildcats in an early first-inning hole the Arizona offense spent the rest of the night chasing the stubborn USC offense.

    Ultimately, despite a valiant effort by the Arizona bats, the Trojans (12-14, 3-5 Pacific 10 Conference) withstood the Wildcats’ (13-13, 2-6) multiple rallies to take game two 15-14 in a four-hour marathon.

    “”That was an interesting ball game that’s for sure,”” UA head coach Andy Lopez said of Saturday game. “”We got a really poor pitching performance early, really poor defense early, but hey we battled. I’m really proud of that.””

    USC began the night en route to a blowout win after a 10-run opening frame. Arizona starter Matt Veltmann (2-3) turned in one of his worst efforts of the year allowing nine runs on five hits before recording an out with the help from a pair of errors by third baseman Kyle Stiner and second baseman Mike Weldon.

    The first 10 Trojan batters reached base and scored during the 30-minute half inning putting the Wildcats in the early double-digit hole.

    Bounces continued to go USC’s way in the bottom of the frame as Arizona’s attempt at getting on the board was stifled after shortstop Bryce Ortega was called out for leaving third base early on what would have been a sacrifice fly to left field off the bat of first baseman Dillon Baird.

    “”It was a miserable first inning,”” Lopez said. “”We really played poorly all around and it showed. We’ve got to be better and it starts with getting that good starting pitching which we didn’t have tonight.””

    Thankfully for Veltmann, Arizona’s offense showed its potency once again. After a five-run second inning rally and squeezing out a run in the fourth, center fielder Hunter Pace capped another five-run inning in the fifth by taking a pitch off USC pitcher Chad Smith for his first career home run – a grand slam just inside the left field foul pole. The blast brought Arizona within two. The long ball was one of 11 extra base hits in the ball game but the lone home run of the contest.

    “”They were working me away but I expected them to bust me inside because that was their pattern with me,”” Pace said. “”Sure enough they came inside and I was expecting it so I just let it explode off my bat.””

    Pace – who finished the night 4-6 with five RBI’s – came through at the plate again in the ninth with Arizona down two after adding a pair of runs in the eighth.

    After Ortega led off the inning with a double to left-center, Pace drove a ball into the wind in shallow right-center where confusion amongst the Trojan fielders allowed the ball to drop in and for Ortega to score.
    Arizona managed to put one more runner on base but then failed to drive either in as the game ended with a shallow fly ball to right field off the bat of right fielder Bobby Coyle.

    On the night, six Wildcat hitters finished with multi-hit nights as the same amount added RBI’s.

    “”We have a lot of confidence (as an offense) because we know we can execute and we know what we’re good at,”” Pace said. “”Obviously we like to compete and get after it so that’s probably our best (attribute).””

    But despite the solid offensive performance, the poor pitching from Arizona’s staff did the most damage as USC belted out 17 hits and 12 earned runs.

    Lopez expressed his disappointment after the game and said Veltmann has likely seen his last start for quite some time.

    “”We’re going to move (Veltmann) out of the rotation,”” Lopez said. “”He’s been really courageous but we’ll get him out of the rotation now and probably move (Kyle) Simon into the Saturday role.

    “”I’ve tried to hang in there (with Veltmann) but he really struggled (tonight).””

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