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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball heads to So Cal

Will Ferguson / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Baseball vs. South Dakota St- 2.20
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson / Arizona Daily Wildcat Baseball vs. South Dakota St- 2.20

This weekend marks the first real test for the No. 17 Arizona baseball team as it travels to Southern California to take on the Long Beach State Dirtbags, with the first game of the series set for 3 p.m. today.

“”It’ll be a real good measuring stick for us,”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “”Putting (the younger players) out there after one year of college baseball and seeing where they are against really good people.

“”I think the biggest thing is getting them on the road early, and see how they adjust to that.””

Last season, the Dirtbags (1-3) visited Tucson, where they routed the Wildcats (3-0) in two wins. The third game was rained out.

“”It’s going to be a good series, a lot of fun,”” said first baseman Cole Frenzel. “”We’re pretty fired up, ready to go.””

Last weekend, the Wildcats offense exploded for 30 runs on 41 hits against the North Dakota State Bison.

Lopez, with 35 years of coaching experience, said the offense is constantly fluctuating, but he always tells his team that the key to victory lies with the defense.

“”The thing I’m really concerned about, and, in fact everyday before a game, I come down to the bench and get my chart ready and say the same thing,”” Lopez said. “”We have to pitch today, we have to pitch and play defense. And if we can do that, then we gear ourselves offensively to manufacture some runs at some point in the game.””

The depth of the Wildcats’ defensive abilities has set up some fierce position battles for the team.

Freshman Johnny Field is testing upperclassmen Bobby Rinard and Bobby Brown for the right-field position until All American right-fielder Steve Selsky, who suffered a hand injury during preseason practices, returns in mid-March.

The battle between sophomore Frenzel and senior Josh Garcia hasn’t presented any concern for Lopez and the coaching staff about the team’s performance at first base.

Both shined at the plate last weekend, with Frenzel hitting .636 with eight RBI and Garcia, in the designated hitter slot, hitting three home runs in two games.

Despite the competition, Garcia stresses that the relationship is amicable.

“”I’m a DH for a reason,”” he said. “”If Cole’s (Frenzel) a better first baseman, then he deserves to be there. At the same time, I’m going to push him to be better. I know I can help the team a lot with my hitting, and that’s what I’m going to do if they don’t need me defensively.””

This weekend, the Wildcats will need to contain the Dirtbags’ lead-off man Brennan Metzger, who paces the team with a .500 on-base percentage and a .364 batting average.

While leaving the friendly confines of Tucson could pose a problem for the young team, Field, who hit a home run on his first collegiate at bat on Saturday, said that he’s looking forward to hitting the road.

“”I’m excited,”” he said. “”I can’t wait to get out there and see what it’s like and just go and help the team out.””

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