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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball hurting for series win

Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Baseball vs Rice
Ginny Polin
Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat Baseball vs Rice

After losing last night’s series opener 4-2 at Oregon, No. 23 Arizona must now scramble to win its first series since it took 2-of-3.against Cal in early April.

The Ducks scored two runs in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie, spoiling Kurt Heyer’s strong start.

Here’s what Arizona will need to do to win the next two games of the series:

Cross the bridge

When Arizona closer Matt Chaffee has gotten the ball in save situations, he’s been lights out. Chaffee has recorded four saves in his limited time at the back of the bullpen, but that number would be higher without Arizona’s struggles in middle relief situations.

“”I’ve been trying to avoid those freshmen, but it’s over — we have to go that route,”” head coach Andy Lopez said. “”We’ve got to find someone to get us to Chaffee, so we’re going to run a few more arms out there this weekend.””

Thursday night’s loss to Oregon makes this even more necessary. While Heyer wasn’t as sharp as usual -— nine hits over 7.2 innings — he still gave Arizona a chance to win. However, Bandilla’s inability to get out of the inning added another chapter to the bullpen’s season-long struggles.

Every day’s Friday

Arizona has yet to lose a series opener this season, thanks in large part to Kurt Heyer’s dominance. But Heyer’s performance isn’t the only reason for Arizona’s success in openers — the Wildcats have also hit better and played better defense in series openers.

“”I like this team,”” Lopez said. “”These guys are not scared to compete, they’re good people, they do all the (right) things off the field. I’m trying to find the right buttons right now.””

Though bad luck has played a part, the Wildcats haven’t helped themselves after Friday nights. Arizona is hitting .340 in series openers — against some of the best pitchers in America — but are hitting a measly .264 in the second and third games combined. Lopez said that Arizona’s swings get longer, but he couldn’t pinpoint whether that was due to fatigue, a lack of focus or any other reason.

Feel the urgency

The amount of time left in the regular season is ticking down, and so is Arizona’s chance to make a move in the conference standings. The Wildcats opened with a brutal four-weekend stretch in conference — all four teams are in Baseball America’s top-25 poll — but that doesn’t mean Arizona can sit back and expect to win its next few series, even if the opponents haven’t been as successful.

“”A sense of urgency is definitely coming up a little bit,”” said outfielder Rob Refsnyder. “”We know we have to pick it up. Now we’re getting to the teams … we know they’re still good teams, but we need to compete a little bit better than we have been. Two out of three is the goal, and a sweep is really the ultimate goal.””

The series is being played Thursday through Saturday instead of the usual Friday through Sunday so that teams can be home in time for the Easter holiday.

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