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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘They’re just another team’

    Arizona closer Daniel Schlereth fires to the plate en route to his eighth save of the year in Arizonas 6-5 win over No. 16 ASU Wednesday. Schlereth and the Wildcats are unphased by the prospect of facing defending national champion Oregon State this weekend.
    Arizona closer Daniel Schlereth fires to the plate en route to his eighth save of the year in Arizona’s 6-5 win over No. 16 ASU Wednesday. Schlereth and the Wildcats are unphased by the prospect of facing defending national champion Oregon State this weekend.

    What a way to start conference play.

    Well, at least from an outsider’s perspective. Ask the Arizona baseball team, and it’ll tell you kicking off the Pacific 10 Conference season against No. 4 Oregon State – the defending national champion – is nothing to make a fuss about.

    “”It’s all fine and great for the fans, I guess, but we’ve got 56 enemies,”” said closer Daniel Schlereth. “”We treat everybody the same, and we’re going to try and beat them all.””

    “”They’re just another team,”” added sophomore Brad Glenn. “”I mean, we know the guys on their team and they know us. We think we match up well with them.””

    Does Arizona ace Preston Guilmet, who’ll toe the mound tonight at 7 in the first of a three-game set, think the series carries any extra weight against the Beavers?

    “”Nope, not at all,”” he said. “”First Pac-10 series. We’re ready to turn it on and get going.””

    Last season Oregon State made a dramatic run to the title, dropping its first game to Miami in the College World Series before reeling off four straight wins facing elimination to reach the championship series. The Beavers then dropped the opening game of that series against North Carolina before taking the final two to capture the crown.

    The run didn’t surprise UA head coach Andy Lopez.

    “”I’ve said this since the day I got here, the West Coast (teams) probably doesn’t get as much credit as they deserve,”” he said.

    Commentary: Why don’t Arizona students ever show up?

    “”There’s something going on in this conference, but it just is what it is. Life doesn’t exist west of the Mississippi, we all know that.””

    But the Beavers of 2007 look starkly different from the national-champion version, with five starting fielders, their top two pitchers and closer Kevin Gunderson gone.

    Still, Oregon State (23-3) enters this weekend on a 12-game winning streak and has won the conference two years running.

    Arizona (22-6) enters on a win-streak of its own, having won eight straight, including a 6-5 decision over No. 16 ASU on Wednesday in the second-annual Challenge at Chase.

    With eight of nine conference teams currently playing at or above .500 baseball, and three teams ranked in the top 25, the 24 games on the Pac-10 docket promise a bumpy ride.

    “”Every weekend is crucial because you only get so many games,”” Lopez said. “”The nice thing, I guess – or the challenging thing – is that while you’re in the weekend of a Pac-10 series, so is everybody else. That’s the thing that keeps you kind of alive unless there’s a team or two that decides to run away and go 20-4.””

    Added Glenn: “”It’s more competitive and it’s cutthroat baseball. You have to beat everyone you can.””

    Statistically, Oregon State and Arizona entered the week looking very similar – both clubs were hitting just above .300, and Arizona has now scored 200 runs to Oregon State’s 201 – but it was the Beavers’ style of play that had Wildcats drawing comparisons.

    “”The way that they do the things that they do is very similar to us,”” said second baseman Colt Sedbrook. “”They have guys that can steal bags, they have guys that can hit-and-run. They have a lot of guys that can play the game of baseball.””

    The two teams also feature the Pac-10’s top two pitching staffs.

    Guilmet (5-0) carries a 21 1/3 scoreless-inning streak into tonight’s start and boasts the second-best ERA in the conference at 1.70.

    Oregon State’s staff has a Pac-10 best 2.43 ERA and has limited opponents to a .224 batting average. The Beavers will throw righty Mike Stutes (6-0) tonight, lefty Joe Paterson (5-1) tomorrow at 6 p.m. and right-hander Daniel Turpen (6-0) Sunday at noon.

    Arizona’s staff, second in the conference with a 3.63 ERA, will counter with lefties Brad Mills (5-2) tomorrow and David Coulon (2-1) Sunday, but Lopez said right-hander Ryan Perry would also be available in the final game should he be needed.

    Perry (0-0) pitched 3 1/3 innings against ASU Wednesday, striking out five against no walks while surrendering just one run. The sophomore has been trying to get his arm back up to strength after missing the first five weeks of the season with a broken left elbow.

    With Perry back in the fold, the Arizona arms will get a boost as it starts what the team feels is the most important stretch of the schedule.

    “”This is what we’ve been working for all season, is to get going with Pac-10 (play),”” Guilmet said. “”Here we are and we start (tonight). Guys are ready.””

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