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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball welcomes Auburn to Hi Corbett

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The No. 8 Arizona baseball team will face its first real test of the season when it faces off with Auburn at 6 tonight at Hi Corbett Field. There will be a doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. as well.

“(Auburn) is a very good program,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “It will be good for us to play somebody of that caliber at this time of the season.”

For Lopez, there is also a factor of familiarity at play with Auburn.

Before moving to Arizona, Lopez coached at Florida for seven years, where his team played the Tigers every season in the SEC. This year, the Tigers come in with lowered expectations — they are projected to finish last in the SEC West according to the coaches’ poll — but with how the Wildcats have started the season, facing a team from a top conference might be just what they need.

After the game on Tuesday, junior Joey Rickard said the offense needs to do a much better job executing this weekend, even with the 12 runs the team put up against Utah Valley that night.

Rickard added that the team made a lot of mistakes on the offensive end, and they need to fix them with a stronger opponent in Auburn coming to town.

So far Rickard, junior Robert Refsnyder, and sophomore Johnny Field have contributed a majority of the offensive production, accounting for 22 of the 34 total hits this season.

Lopez said the play of the offense takes the strain off the rest of the team as other players work their way into a hitting groove.

The six through eight spot in the lineup are batting just .089 percent through the first four games, with senior Bobby Brown still hitless in 14 at-bats.

“Those other guys will get going, it’s only four games,” Lopez said. “It’s so doggone early.”
The bullpen hasn’t been perfect so far, but two freshmen showed some real signs of potential Tuesday night.

Relievers Lucas Long and Mathew Troupe finished off the 12-6 victory over Utah Valley after starter Tyler Hale gave up four runs in just two and one-third innings.

They, along with Stephen Manthei, have jumped to the front of the bullpen competition as Lopez still tries to figure out every pitcher’s role, he said.

“The thing that we are trying to do right now, early in the season, is to figure out who the right pieces are on the backside of the rotation.”

Lopez added that the bullpen is full of pitchers who don’t have a lot of college pitching experience, so as the season goes on the pitchers will start to find their place.

“These are guys who haven’t really pitched a lot,” Lopez said. “You have to give them an opportunity to go out there and prove they can do it.”

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