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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Red-Blue baseball game sets tone

Every baseball team has an identity.

It may be a group that can mash home runs or one that plays small ball. It might be a group that features a pitching staff with an arsenal of flamethrowers or one that craftily pitches out of jams.

If Saturday’s Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage was any indication, the 2010 Arizona baseball team will play the part of a gritty, aggressive and disciplined baseball team this spring.

In a 3-2 Blue team win at Jerry Kindall Field, Arizona displayed sharp defense and aggressive base running, both areas that head coach Andy Lopez envisions as being staples of his club’s play this year.

“”Because we’re young, we’re going to have to execute,”” Lopez said. “”We’re not going to be the team that can sit around and wait for a three-run home run.

“”You probably saw that today, a lot of stealing bases,”” he added. “”We’re going to have to do some of the little things, which I’m comfortable doing, quite honestly. I’m more comfortable doing that than waiting for the three-run home run.””

Base runners seemed to have the green light to steal all game, and in a low-scoring contest, newcomers were not afraid to flash their wheels and leather in front of former Wildcats on hand for Alumni Weekend.

Freshman Cory Bernard swiped third base before stealing home to manufacture a run early in the game. Freshman Seth Mejias-Brean played a clean game at shortstop before knocking in an RBI single in the later innings to help his team clinch the win.

With a revamped roster, Lopez said he was pleased to see his group of newcomers play aggressively in their first taste of a game-like atmosphere at Frank Sancet Stadium.

“”(Being aggressive) is kind of our makeup,”” Lopez said. “”We’ve got some athletes again, and I like the attitude. They’ve bought into the motive of being constantly on the offensive and putting the other team on the defensive.””

Coinciding with the Red-Blue game was Alumni Weekend, and a handful of former Wildcat players were in attendance to sign autographs and catch up with old teammates.

With this year being the 30th anniversary of the 1980 National Championship team, Lopez encouraged his players to talk with alumni to learn about what it took for those Wildcat teams to win at the collegiate level.

“”This weekend is a really big, intangible weekend,”” Lopez said. “”I’m the one that’s pounding them every day about work ethic and discipline and execution.  Don’t just take it from me … ask (the alumni) if it was easy, ask them what their work ethic was, ask them what they need to know what it takes to be successful at this level. It will benefit them, it really will.””

Any young team is expected to experience growing pains early as it makes adjustments to playing at a higher level for the first time.

But don’t tell that to this Wildcat team, whose success likely hinges on the freshmen’s ability to execute in games.

“”I like these guys,”” said senior Rafael Valenzuela of the freshman crop. “”They got a lot of swagger, so we should be all right.””

Added Lopez: “”I’ll be honest with you, since they’re young I don’t know how they’ll handle the games … we’re young and we need to be patient. But I think if you get me in a corner somewhere, I would probably say yeah, I do think we’re going to compete this year.””

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