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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Defending champs on deck for baseball

    UA first baseman C.J. Ziegler takes a hack at a pitch during Arizonas 10-4 win over New Mexico Wednesday at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats hit the road this weekend to face Oregon State.
    UA first baseman C.J. Ziegler takes a hack at a pitch during Arizona’s 10-4 win over New Mexico Wednesday at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats hit the road this weekend to face Oregon State.

    If you ask the No. 23 Arizona baseball team about its current 12-game winning streak, there is a good chance many players would be surprised it’s so many.

    Last week, third baseman Brad Glenn was unaware the team had won six in a row. Now, with the Wildcats (27-11, 6-6 Pacific 10 Conference) on a streak matching their season-high, it’s not surprising Glenn’s and his teammates’ focus is elsewhere.

    “”We just come out every day and try to play good baseball. You really don’t think about streaks much,”” Glenn said. “”After the streak you can look back and say, ‘Hey, that was a pretty good streak.’ But during it, you just put your head down and grind it out.””

    Arizona has indeed grinded out several wins during the past 12 games, as seven were decided by three runs or less. In four of the games, Arizona scored the winning or go-ahead runs in the eighth inning or later with three games being decided in walk-off fashion.

    The Wildcats will likely need the late-inning magic to continue as they head to Corvallis, Ore., to take on defending national champion Oregon State (18-13, 6-6) in a three-game series starting tonight.

    “”We’re getting hot right when we need it,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”We’ve been fortunate lately to get some good pitching and clutch hits. But the (Pac-10’s) always been a good pitching conference. So we’ll have to be very protective at the plate (this weekend).””

    While pitching in the Pac-10 is always tough, the Beavers have one of the strongest, youngest staffs in the conference. As a pitching staff, OSU currently holds a 5.23 ERA. Meanwhile, the Beavers’ bats have given their opponents an ERA of 6.25.

    In last weekend’s series against then-No. 2 ASU, the Beavers averaged 10 runs per game and held the Devils to under five in the opening two games of the series.

    But Sunday the Sun Devils jumped all over OSU pitching, tallying 15 runs on 12 hits for a three-run win in Tempe.

    Despite the usual stingy nature of the Beavers’ pitching staff, they will be facing a rejuvenated Arizona

    offense. Since the Wildcats’ 3-10 stretch in which the team’s offense struggled and was shutout three times, Arizona has recently bumped its average up to .299. The Wildcats are also averaging over 10 hits per game resulting in fewer than seven runs per outing.

    “”One through nine, everyone’s been doing their job,”” said first baseman C.J. Ziegler of Arizona’s lineup as of late. “”We’re all feeling comfortable at the plate. We just need to keep the pressure on (OSU) and continue putting up runs consistently.””

    Ziegler is the streakiest hitter in Arizona’s lineup as the senior heads into tonight with a hit in 16 of the Wildcats’ last 17 games, including a current team-high, nine-game hitting streak.

    In the last 17 games, Ziegler hit a strong .375 with nine extra base hits and 10 RBI’s.

    Coming in a close second to Ziegler at the plate is Glenn, who has a hit in eight of the last nine games since going 0-for-5 against Indiana State back on April 11. Since then, the junior has hit a dangerous .500, including a 4-for-4 performance in Arizona’s 10-4 win over New Mexico on Wednesday.

    “”(Glenn’s) really starting to swing (the bat) pretty good, everybody is,”” Lopez said. “”We’re having a lot of productive at bats, a lot of RBI’s, a lot of doubles and just a lot of base hits. It’s hard to get base hits with runners in scoring position, but we’re doing that lately.””

    Another aspect of Arizona’s game that can’t go unnoticed is a newly tightened defense.

    Prior to shortstop Bryce Ortega’s error in the third inning Wednesday, Arizona had gone 36 innings without a defensive miscue. The stretch was the Wildcats’ longest of the season for a team averaging 1.56 errors per game.

    For much of the season, third base has been a position plagued by errors as three players currently near the top of the team list for miscues have spent time at the hot corner. But

    recently, Glenn has brought stability to the position and has played perfect defense since his last miscue against New Mexico on April 15.

    “”I came out pretty uncomfortable (at third base) at the beginning of the year, but (my defense) is definitely getting better now,”” Glenn said. “”Overall, as a team, we just relaxed (defensively). We grew up a bit over the last few weeks and that has shown.””

    Extra bases

    The second game of the Arizona-OSU series will be televised on Fox Sports Net Arizona tomorrow at 2 p.m.

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