The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

79° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Simon goes the distance; ‘Cats win series

The USA Today/ESPN No. 22 Arizona baseball team had been waiting all season for sophomore right-hander Kyle Simon to pitch up to his potential.

Although it took a couple of months longer than most had hoped, Simon rose to the occasion on Sunday as he went the distance in a 9-1 victory over Washington, capping off a much-needed series victory

(2-1) for the Wildcats (22-9, 4-5 Pacific 10 Conference) in Seattle.

“”One of the best performances I’ve seen this year by far,”” UA head coach Andy Lopez said of Kyle Simon’s first career complete game, in which he allowed only one run on three hits, while recording 15 ground-ball outs.

“”He did a great job. He really looked very, very dominant,”” Lopez added. “”He had tremendous sink on his fastball. He threw his secondary pitches really well when he had to and had very good command.””

Simon was expected to be the No. 1 starter heading into the season, but a slight back injury pushed him into the Saturday slot. A few sub-par games moved him into the Sunday role and eventually out of the rotation completely.

But with the Wildcats struggling after being swept by California in Berkeley last weekend, Simon stepped up in a big spot and earned Arizona its second series victory in Pac-10 play.

“”It’s a big win at a big time,”” Lopez said. “”We needed that win badly for Pac-10 play. He stepped up.””

Simon’s performance gives Arizona a huge boost of confidence, as they already have one ace in freshman Kurt

Heyer, who boosted his record to 5-0 after defeating the Huskies (17-13, 3-3 Pac-10) 7-2 on Friday.

Simon’s always had the makeup to be dominant — 6-foot-5, lanky, terrific movement on his fastball — but his inability to find the strike zone has stifled his success this season.

Although he deemed himself “”effectively wild”” on Sunday, Simon admitted how important locating his pitches is to his success.

“”I just have to pound the zone because, I mean, with the movement I have, guys don’t hit it solid,”” Simon said.

When he finds the strike zone early in games, it is almost impossible to figure him out once he settles in because of the massive movement on his ball.

“”When you’re throwing a pitch that moves like a foot, you can throw it in kind of a lot of different places and these guys will think it’s a fastball down the pipe, and then they swing and hit the bottom of the bat for a ground ball or swing through it for a strikeout,”” Simon said.

Although Simon ended the series in a big way, it was Heyer (5-0, 2.16) and the Arizona bats that set the tone on Friday. Heyer got the job done once again, as he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing only two runs off of four hits.

Outfielders Steve Selsky and Robert Refsnyder went deep in Game 1, allowing Heyer and company to coast to a 7-2 win.

“”I thought Friday night we played well with Kurt Heyer,”” Lopez said. “”We swung the bats, got some timely hits and played good defense.””

That success didn’t carry into Saturday night, as the Wildcats and sophomore starter Bryce Bandilla were trampled by the Huskies, 10-2. Bandilla allowed five earned runs through 4 1/3 innings, and the Arizona bats couldn’t mount a comeback.

But the bats woke up for the Wildcats on Sunday, as both Selsky and Refnsyder went yard again, and Simon did his thing from start to finish.

The Game 2 hiccup wasn’t ideal, and Simon admitted the Wildcats “”should have swept them easily,”” but winning two out of three games in a conference like the Pac-10 can’t be considered anything but a success.

“”If you win two out of three in the Pac-10, you’ve had a good weekend,”” Lopez said. “”I’m real happy with the way things went this weekend.””

More to Discover
Activate Search