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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseball kicks off 3-week road slate

    The tests just keep on coming for the Arizona baseball team.

    First, it was defending national champion and then-No. 4 Oregon State. The Wildcats swept the Beavers March 30-April 1.

    Then, it was the fact that no team in school history had started 6-0 in Pacific 10 Conference play. With a sweep of California last weekend, the 2007 team became the first.

    Now, it’s this weekend’s trip to Palo Alto, Calif., for a visit to Stanford. It is the first of three road series in a row – the longest for any team in the conference this season.

    “”There’s a lot of things I don’t really understand … but I learned a long time ago, why complain about it? It’s not going to change it,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”And if you’re a good team, you go out and play. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, you go out and play.””

    Normally, the Wildcats’ Pac-10 slate would feature just two road series in a row, but the 2007 schedule has trips to Washington State and UCLA lined up after the Stanford series.

    “”It’s not really that big of a deal; it’s just one more week,”” said left fielder Diallo Fon, who will get to see his family in nearby Walnut Creek, Calif., this weekend. “”It’s not like we’re going to Japan or something for three weeks.””

    Added pitcher Brad Mills: “”What, we have to hit first, they have to hit last? I mean, we still have to play the game of baseball.

    “”I think whatever hardship comes with it, it’ll be good for us – if there is much of a hardship. I think it’ll be real good and toughen us up.””

    No. 13 Arizona (28-6, 6-0) heads to Stanford with the nation’s longest active winning streak at 14 games, and has already surpassed its win total from last season, when the Wildcats went 27-28.

    But Arizona will be shorthanded.

    Designated hitter Bill Rhinehart missed practice earlier this week with a possible concussion he suffered two weeks ago when a ground ball in practice skipped off his glove and hit him in the head.

    Rhinehart hadn’t missed a game the past two weekends – hitting .300 and walking five times – but complained of headaches Monday, Lopez said. The senior didn’t make the trip to Palo Alto and will miss the series.

    Also out is closer Daniel Schlereth, who hasn’t pitched an inning in the conference season.

    In 14 appearances, the lefty leads the team with eight saves and a 1.33 ERA – a number that drops to 0.50 when factoring out his only start of the season. But Schlereth is still recovering from an oblique strain he suffered two weeks ago against then-No. 16 ASU and also didn’t make the trip.

    The Wildcats will face a Stanford team that traditionally has been the class of the Pac-10 and narrowly edged the Wildcats for a postseason bid last season.

    “”No matter what anybody says about Stanford’s record right now, its still Stanford University,”” Lopez said. “”It’s a great baseball program, and they have arguably been the best team in the conference for the last 10-15 years.””

    The Cardinal (14-15, 0-6) will throw lefty Jeremy Bleich (1-5, 5.23 ERA) in today’s 6 p.m. start opposite Arizona ace Preston Guilmet (6-0), who leads the Pac-10, among pitchers who qualify, with a 1.65 ERA.

    Lefty Brad Mills (7-2) gets the nod for the Wildcats in tomorrow’s game, and right-hander Ryan Perry (0-0) will make his second-straight weekend start for Arizona in the series finale Sunday.

    Stanford will counter with righty Jeffrey Inman (2-2) and Nolan Gallagher (2-4), respectively.

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