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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA freshman starts 2nd career game as ASU makes only trip to Tucson

    Freshman pitcher Paul Bargas rears back to fire against Utah Valley State Feb. 7 at Sancet Stadium. Bargas threw six innings and gave up one run in the 13-2 win, and will take the mound today in ASUs lone visit to Tucson this year.
    Freshman pitcher Paul Bargas rears back to fire against Utah Valley State Feb. 7 at Sancet Stadium. Bargas threw six innings and gave up one run in the 13-2 win, and will take the mound today in ASU’s lone visit to Tucson this year.

    A standout on an otherwise shaky high school team, Paul Bargas hadn’t even had the guidance of a pitching coach until he stepped foot on campus last fall.

    Now, under the supervision of UA baseball head coach Andy Lopez, who also serves as the team’s pitching coach, the freshman left-hander will make the second start of his career today at 4 p.m., when Arizona (11-3) hosts No. 14 ASU (10-3) at Sancet Stadium.

    “”Coming here … I was kind of raw,”” Bargas said. “”(Lopez) doesn’t try to teach mechanical stuff, he approaches the mental part of it, which I like, because ever since you were little they told you, ‘It’s 90 percent mental.’

    “”As a pitcher, you have to be convinced that when you go out there, nobody can hit you,”” Bargas added. “”But you have to believe it. You can’t just tell yourself.””

    In three appearances so far this season – including 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Saturday’s 9-3 win over UNLV – Bargas (1-0) leads the team with a 0.84 ERA. In more than 10 innings of work, the Riverside, Calif., native has yet to walk a batter.

    Bargas saw the first action of his career when he started and won Feb. 7’s matchup again Utah Valley State, scattering three hits and giving up a lone run in six innings.

    “”Paul’s done a good job in every situation we’ve given him so far,”” Lopez said.

    Bargas pointed to his career at Riverside North High School, where he captained the team his senior year, as a foundation that Lopez has helped build upon.

    “”I came from a real bad high school team, so I knew every time that I went out there and pitched, I would have to pitch the lights out, and I would still sometimes lose,”” Bargas said. “”That was my only chance.””

    After a rocky weekend in a series loss to No. 10 Cal State-Fullerton Feb. 16-18 that saw the staff surrender 19 runs in three games, Bargas said Lopez sat the pitchers down and had them take a long look at themselves.

    “”One thing that he had talked to us about after we had had the rough series at Fullerton was that every single one of our pitchers has better stuff, velocity-wise, than Greg Maddux, and look at him,”” Bargas said.

    “”And so, if you have this stuff, and he’s there, a future Hall-of-Famer, then the only thing that’s holding you back is you.””

    Despite that rough weekend in Fullerton, the Arizona pitching staff continues to lead the conference in ERA (2.98) and strikeouts (123). ASU, meanwhile, leads the conference in hitting (.365) and doubles (45).

    But the Arizona staff could be short-handed.

    Right-hander Jason Stoffel has a “”horrible, horrible virus,”” Lopez said, that will limit his availability today. Originally thought to be mononucleosis, the ailment kept him off the team’s trip to Las Vegas over the weekend.

    Another righty, Ryan Perry, who broke his non-throwing arm in a January motorcycle accident, won’t be available until at least mid-March, Lopez said last week.

    “”We’re down a couple of arms right now, so we’re kind of limited,”” Lopez said.

    The Wildcat offense, which averaged 9.8 runs in the team’s first eight games, has taken a dive of late, averaging 4.2 over its past six.

    “”I think we are a better hitting club than we’ve proven the last weekends. I hope we are,”” Lopez said. “”If not, then I’m going to have to recruit Roger Clemens. We’ll be in the running. It’ll be the Yankees, the Red Sox and Arizona baseball for Roger.””

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