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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA baseball to get defensive

    Arizona left-handed pitcher Daniel Schlereth delivers a pitch in Sundays 10-9 win over Sacramento State at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats batters have been the ones picking up the slack through the teams first two weekends.
    Arizona left-handed pitcher Daniel Schlereth delivers a pitch in Sunday’s 10-9 win over Sacramento State at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats’ batters have been the ones picking up the slack through the team’s first two weekends.

    Nevada-Las Vegas at No. 1 Arizona

    When a college baseball team is ranked, a series sweep is not enough.

    The No. 1 Arizona baseball team grabbed its first series sweep of the season this past weekend. In the mind of head coach Andy Lopez, however, his team came away with some unanswered questions from the weekend.

    While the Wildcats (5-1) held on to their top ranking in Baseball America, a multitude of questions and concerns have surfaced stemming from numerous defensive inconsistencies through the team’s first two series.

    Arizona now welcomes Nevada-Las Vegas (5-3) to Sancet Stadium where the teams will play a two-game set beginning tonight at 7.

    “”We’re six games into a new season and there’s some big answers that need to be found in a couple positions,”” Lopez said Sunday after his team’s sweep of Sacramento State. “”The shortstop position and the Sunday starting position in particular are the concerns for me.””

    Shortstop Robert Abel may be on Lopez’ hot seat. Arizona’s defense appeared shaky at times throughout the first six games. The Wildcats’ defense has committed 14 errors through six games while their opponents have only had a total of six miscues.

    Three errors in Arizona’s season opener alone led to four unearned runs in the Wildcats’ eventual two-run loss to Georgia.

    In Sunday’s 10-9 win over Sacramento State, Arizona appeared to have tightened up and be on track for a mistake-free game until the seventh inning when Abel allowed a ground ball to skip past him into the outfield with two outs to keep the Hornets’ rally alive.

    The next batter made him pay for the mistake with a two-run double off lefty Daniel Schlereth that tied the game.

    “”We know we’ve needed to cut back on the errors,”” said first baseman C.J. Ziegler, who has a pair of errors himself. “”Every day we come out here and look to improve on our defense and I think it’s gotten better.””

    Errors have not been the only reason Arizona has needed eight or more runs to get the win in two-thirds of its games thus far. The second question being raised in Lopez’s mind is pitching.

    Prior to the season, Arizona’s starting rotation had about as much hype as the team itself. But in the early going, the Wildcats have seen each of these highly touted starters struggle at one time or another.

    First it was No. 1 starter Preston Guilmet (1-1) with a disappointing effort in a season-opening loss to Georgia on Feb. 22. The right-hander finished the game with a 9.00 ERA while picking up his first loss of the season.

    Left-hander David Coulon (2-0) made up for Guilmet’s opening night performance the next night against Georgia by throwing 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The following Saturday in his home debut, however, Coulon could not repeat the performance instead allowing four runs in five innings.

    Easily having the worst debut in the starting role was Baseball America Preseason All-America selection Ryan Perry (0-0). The right-hander struggled through his first two starts, receiving two no-decisions while earning a 7.88 ERA.

    With four of the six relief pitchers Arizona has used in the first two series already owning ERAs above 2.00, pitching is becoming an increasing concern for the Wildcats.

    “”We need to throw up more zeroes as a pitching staff,”” said reliever Daniel Schlereth (1-0). “”I think we’ve learned that we got depth as far as pitching goes, but we need to come out and do a much better job in the future.””

    Although Arizona’s offense has answered the call and made up for the unstable defensive effort throughout the season thus far, Lopez will send left-hander Mike Colla to the mound tonight in hopes of taking some of the pressure off his offense and potentially finding some of the answers he’s been looking for.

    Colla (1-0) heads into tonight’s game with a 2.70 ERA through 6 2/3 innings of relief work while recording four strikeouts and three walks.

    “”I’ve said this before, it’s easier to win a game than to play the game properly,”” Lopez said using Sunday’s 10-9 win as an example. “”We won, but we played the game horribly.

    “”We have a few questions, hopefully these guys respond.””

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