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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Inconsistent season dooms UA baseball

    UA pitcher Ryan Perry strides toward the mound in a 5-2 win over San Diego State at Sancet Stadium on April 9. The Wildcats finished their season 42-19 but failed to make it to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
    UA pitcher Ryan Perry strides toward the mound in a 5-2 win over San Diego State at Sancet Stadium on April 9. The Wildcats finished their season 42-19 but failed to make it to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

    With a sharp grounder to shortstop off the bat of first baseman C.J. Ziegler, the Arizona baseball team’s highly anticipated season came to a disappointing end in a Super Regional loss to No. 1 Miami – three runs shy of the College World Series.

    Since February, when the team held the nation’s top ranking, so much excitement and hope covered Jerry Kindall Field.

    On the first day of practice, second baseman Colt Sedbrook said he felt this year was “”a special occasion.””

    “”I think this year is going to be pretty historical in itself,”” the senior said of Arizona’s much-hyped season. “”I think we got a really good chance at getting to Omaha, (Neb.), where we want to be.””

    But after Sunday night’s 4-2 shortcoming to the Coral Gables Super Regional champion Hurricanes, Arizona’s tone changed and the team listened to the word it had been dreading: disappointment.

    “”We are one of 15 teams that are going to be disappointed from here on out after the Super Regionals,”” head coach Andy Lopez said in a post-game press conference. “”We have had to go to Cal State-Fullerton, Wichita State and Miami the last three years in the tournament.

    “”Those are some powerful programs,”” he added. “”I am very proud of our guys.””

    Fittingly, Arizona’s Super Regional loss drew many comparisons to its regular season.

    Throughout the year, Arizona’s inconsistencies proved to be too much to overcome on numerous occasions.

    After opening the year with a 12-1 record behind an explosive offense that scored six or more runs in 12 of its first 13 games, the Wildcats’ bats fell silent as the team then suffered 10 losses in its next 13 games.

    During that stretch, Arizona suffered four shutout losses and scored three or fewer runs in eight of those games.

    One of the key reasons for the sudden decrease in production was a lack of productivity with runners in scoring position, paired with untimely miscues on the base paths.

    Arizona’s troublesome trait of struggling in clutch situations resurfaced in Sunday’s loss as the Wildcats stranded 11 runners despite having potential runs in scoring position in seven innings.

    “”We missed a big hit two or three times and that’s really the essence of it,”” Lopez said.

    Offense was not the only inconsistency the UA faced during the regular season. Pitching was also an on-again, off-again problem the Wildcats faced.

    While Arizona’s bullpen remained fairly constant all year long with reliever Daniel Schlereth and closer Jason Stoffel anchoring the late innings for the Wildcats, the same could not be said for the starting pitching.

    Junior Ryan Perry opened the season with the third spot in the rotation, only later to be moved to a relief role after going 1-1 through his first four starts.

    Initial midweek starter Mike Colla suffered through some midseason turmoil leading Lopez to test other arms such as right-hander Grayson Adams, who started three games for the Wildcats finishing the year with an earned run average over seven.

    The biggest shock to Arizona’s starting rotation was the ineffectiveness of 2007 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet, who finished the season 6-4 with a 4.38 ERA.

    Costly inconsistencies from the pitching staff occurred once again in game two of the Super Regional when four Arizona hurlers combined to allow a school-record 16 free passes which Miami jumped all over en route to a 14-10 series-evening win.

    “”We were sloppy on our end from a pitching standpoint,”” Lopez said following game two. “”We can’t walk 16 guys and expect to be successful. (Miami) took advantage of us and they did a marvelous job.””

    Despite all of Arizona’s faults throughout the year and the disappointment of its dreams falling short, however, the Wildcats confidence was never shaken.

    Such a mentality was evident late in the year when the Wildcats climbed out of an eight-run hole in the third inning against No. 16 Stanford to eventually take the game and the series, keeping Arizona alive in the hunt for a No. 1 seed in its regional.

    Even after dropping game three of the Super Regional, a similar confidence could still be heard in the Wildcats’ voices, which could be the reason Arizona even made it so far in the first place.

    “”We gave it our all, all three games,”” left fielder Raphael Valenzuela said following the season-ending loss. “”We just came up short.””

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