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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Baird’s grand slam lifts No. 1 baseball; Lopez earns win No. 900

    The No. 1 Arizona baseball team played its home opener at Sancet Stadium on all cylinders. A monster grand slam, rejuvinized ace and energized fan base brought together a trifecta of college baseball paradise.

    Arizona (3-1) clinched the first game of the series over Sacramento State 9-3 after third baseman Dillon Baird crushed a two-out grand slam onto 6th Street in the fifth inning, erupting a full capacity crowd of 3,398 – the largest home opener since 1993.

    Baird’s slam capped off his dynamic 3-for-4 night that also featured an RBI double in the seventh inning and RBI single in the first, along with solid work defensively over the Hornets (1-3).

    “”It felt pretty good to hit the ball like that and have this support behind me,”” said Baird in front of his raucous crew of four high school friends from Prescott, wearing home-made No. 39 t-shirts

    When asked initially how far he thought the grand slam reached, a shy Baird estimated “”maybe 480, 500 (feet).””

    “”You said how far did it go?”” UA head coach Andy Lopez asked Baird jokingly. “”Four-hundred-and-eighty-500 (feet), you’re going to get one in the back tomorrow.””

    Said winning pitcher Preston Guilmet (1-1) on the monster shot: “”I don’t think it’s landed yet.””

    Guilmet bounced back from what Lopez called an uncharacteristic loss against Georgia in sub-freezing temperatures that affected his right triceps. But 102 pitches later on a warmer Tucson ballpark, a loose and sharper Guilmet recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts, zero walks and three 1-2-3 innings of work – including a sixth inning striking out the side – after seven innings pitched.

    A big bounce back from the performance against Georgia, where he threw for four inning with four earned runs, though, wasn’t mandatory or vital for Guilmet this early in the season, Lopez said. And with a large lead that grew by scoring in five different innings, Guilmet still stayed focus by ignoring the scoreboard

    “”I just want him to be consistent, he was consistent tonight,”” Lopez said. “”That’s all we’re looking for is some consistency.””

    Said Guilmet: “”You can’t play the score. You gotta go out and our jobs as pitchers here is to hang zeroes.

    Reliever Daniel Schlereth entered the game in the eighth inning and only allowed one hit to close out Arizona’s third straight win.

    Lopez plans to flip-flop Schlereth and reliever Jason Stoffel in the set-up spot, effectively shortening by a few innings, he said.

    “”That’s a big plus, Lopez said. “”For us to go where we need to go … he has to be a factor in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.””

    Extra Bases

    Leadoff hitter Diallo Fon used a keen eye and quick speed to draw three walks and a triple, continuing his perfect 1.000 season batting average after going 1-for-1. …

    Lopez earned his 900th career win tonight in his 26th season of coaching.

    “”I’ve been doing this a long time,”” he said. “”I’ve had a lot of good players, good coaches. … I’ve been unbelievably fortunate.

    “”I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be doing this for a living.””

    Read more about the series in Monday’s edition of the Wildcat

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