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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball hosts New Mexico State for two-game series

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Emily Gauci

Arizona baseball outfielder Justin Behnke (4) bunts during Arizona’s 6-4 extra innings loss against Rice on Feb. 22 at Hi Corbett Field. Behnke and the Wildcats take on New Mexico State for a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Arizona baseball hosts New Mexico State on Tuesday in its final two-game midweek series before the start of Pac-12 Conference play next weekend.

Arizona coach Andy Lopez is expected to start Cody Hamlin, as he is still trying to determine the weekend pitching lineup for conference play. The right-handed pitcher served as a reliever in two of Arizona’s four games over the weekend, pitching a shutout in the final three innings against Samford University on Friday.

Hamlin’s sidearm delivery has proven effective in relief, but his two games as a starter haven’t gone as expected for last season’s Saturday night pitcher. Hamlin has given up five runs as a starting pitcher and two as a reliever.

Arizona (10-4) pitchers have only given up one home run in 480 at-bats on the season. The Wildcats have already sent eight balls over the fence offensively, tying last year’s total home run count in just 14 games.

Arizona’s batting lineup features six players batting over .300 with at least 40 at-bats, led by second baseman Scott Kingery, averaging .492 in 61 at-bats with one home run and 13 RBIs. The team boasts a .328 batting average and holds their opponents to just .244.

Transfer Justin Behnke is doing his job so far as the ninth batter in the lineup. The Wildcat’s second leadoff hitter has a .383 average and has three stolen bases this season.

Behnke is also the only starter on the team with a perfect fielding percentage, even causing some commotion in the sports world after making a spectacular diving catch in last Saturday’s afternoon game against No. 8 Mississippi State.

New Mexico State (1-10) is batting just .211 as a team, with its best hitter being center fielder Quinnton Mack at .317. Outfielder Daniel Johnson trails Mack with a .250 average.

Despite a low batting average, the Aggies have been able to turn hits into runs when players do get on base. They have put up 50 runs in a mere 78 hits compared to Arizona’s 109 runs in 160 hits.

The Aggies lost two of three to Incarnate World in their home opener last weekend. They recorded 13 runs on 13 hits on Sunday, but a four-run, sixth inning for Incarnate World allowed the Cardinals to hold on to the lead.

New Mexico State was also swept by Arizona’s Pac-12 rival Oregon in a four-game series two weeks ago, its worst loss to the Ducks being 22-7.

The Wildcats, in the midst of their rigorous pre-conference schedule, have already played six games in six days, four of those on the road.

First pitch on Tuesday’s start to the two-game series is at 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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