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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats to test youth against UNLV

Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez is going to find out just how good his freshman pitchers are this week, when the No. 14 Wildcats (9-2) travel to Las Vegas to take on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Against Rice University — Arizona’s lone mid-week series in 2011 — Lopez elected to go with ace Kurt Heyer and Saturday starter Kyle Simon on the mound, but the 10th-year head coach said that wouldn’t be the case against the Rebels (11-2).

“”I don’t know who we’re going to throw, but it’s definitely not going to be Heyer and Simon,”” Lopez said. “”It’ll be some young guys early, and they’re going to get some experience.””

Lopez knows that trial by fire is the only way his pitchers are going to gain experience, and it’s better to take the risk against UNLV instead of waiting until Pacific 10 Conference play starts.

“”They need to pitch,”” Lopez said. “”The only way they’re going to get better is by pitching.””

Junior catcher Jett Bandy says that he’s up to the task of managing younger hurlers for a couple of games.

“”I love catching younger guys,”” Bandy said. “”They’re fun to watch and they’re fun to catch. They’re real good.””

Bandy said that he takes pride in the performance of his pitchers, and he takes a bad performance just as hard as the guy on the mound.

“”His outing is my outing,”” Bandy said. “”Me and coach Lopez always use the phrase, ‘I’m going to put you on my back.’ I’m going to get them through it.””

Bullpen shaping up

With Nick Cunningham returning from a strained abdominal muscle, Arizona’s bullpen is starting take form. Cunningham is expected to be the set-up man getting the ball to closer Bryce Bandilla.

Left-hander Matt Chaffee will probably be on the mound in the seventh, unless matchups or the starter’s performance dictate otherwise.

Konner Wade was warming up when starter Tyler Hale struggled early in Sunday’s game against Utah Valley, and it looks like he will be one of Lopez’s first options if a long-relief situation presents itself.

Freshman Jacob Doyle, from Glendale, Ariz., has also been solid in three relief appearances, allowing one run on two hits. He’ll get a chance to log more innings against UNLV.

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