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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats burned by Devils in first Pac-10 series

It was a rough start to Pacific 10 Conference play for the No. 15 Arizona baseball team as it dropped two out of three against the No. 6 ASU Sun Devils during the weekend in Tempe.

Despite winning the Friday match up, the Wildcats (17-7, 1-2 Pac-10) fell hard in Saturday’s 5-1 loss and couldn’t get the confidence back to secure the rubber match win on Sunday in an 8-1 loss.

“”With the start of the Pac-10 season, it’s like I told the guys, every weekend of Pac-10 play is a grind,”” said head coach Andy Lopez. “”Its not a very easy conference. You’ve got to be really good, and you’ve got to outplay your opponents. In many ways, you have to be mentally tougher than your opponents, especially on the road.””

For what has been a dominant Arizona offense since the start of the season, averaging more than seven runs per game, the Wildcats only managed 2.3 per game during the weekend.

“”Obviously, scoring more than one run is key,”” Lopez said. “”You’re going to have to pitch the lights out if you’re only going to score one run, that’s one thing that we need to make a jump on.””

On Sunday, Arizona starter Tyler Hale looked tough through seven innings until a two-run home run off the bat of ASU’s (18-6, 2-1) Austin Barnes opened the floodgates for the Sun Devil offense.

“”We really did not look very strong mentally in that eighth inning,”” Lopez said. “”A lot of errors, some physical mistakes and some mental mistakes as well, it’s a little disappointing.””

The series got off to a hot start for the Wildcats when Friday night starter Kurt Heyer claimed his fourth win after striking out eight and allowing only two runs on six hits in the 5-2 Arizona victory.

Even the lagging Arizona bullpen was in peak form as Matt Chaffee closed out the last 1.2 innings for the Wildcats with two strikeouts and one hit allowed.

Catcher Jett Bandy, who hasn’t been able to really find his swing yet this year, went 3-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.

“”It felt good, I was seeing the ball well at the plate,”” Bandy said. “”I feel like I’m back.””

Come Saturday however, it looked as if the wheels fell off for the Wildcats.

The Sun Devils capitalized on a tiring Kyle Simon, as they scored four runs on the Arizona starter in the second inning.

Sophomore Seth Mejias-Brean drove the only Wildcat run in on a single to left in the fourth.

With 24 conference games left for the Wildcats, they aren’t ready to hang their heads quite yet, but both Bandy and Lopez agree that the team has some improving to do.

“”We’ve got to get better,”” Bandy said. “”We’ve got to get tougher and just try to work even harder.””

The Wildcats are set to face the New Mexico Lobos at home in a two-game series starting on Tuesday and will resume conference play next weekend.

“”They’ll use this (past) weekend as a teaching aide,”” Lopez said. “”They will get better for Tuesday, Wednesday and then this coming weekend against Oregon State.””

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