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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats narrowly beat alumni

    Facing a former catcher on the mound – and his pitches coming in at 65-70 mph – it took a major adjustment for the Arizona baseball team to beat a team of alumni 3-2 last night at Sancet Stadium.

    “”Everybody was coming in (the dugout) saying, ‘Just sit back,'”” said designated hitter C.J. Ziegler of former UA catcher Aaron von Lindern’s pitches.

    Each throw was about 15-20 mph slower than the team was used to.

    “”He throws one pitch, and I step out, and I look up, and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow,'”” Ziegler added with a laugh. “”It was a big adjustment, but that’s what we had to do.””

    Von Lindern pitched three innings and gave up only two hits, but one became the game-winning run on Travis Peep’s fifth-inning single up the middle.

    “”I saw the first (pitch), and I just said to myself that if he throws the same kind of pitch, I’m just going to try and get good wood on it and get the run home,”” said Peep, who was pinch-hitting for center fielder T.J. Steele. “”I ended up doing what I wanted to.””

    Besides playing someone other than themselves – Arizona had a 20-inning intrasquad scrimmage Saturday – the current team got a chance to mingle with alumni.

    The former Wildcats at Sancet yesterday included recent players like Jason Donald, Jordan Brown, Nick Hundley, Trevor Crowe and John Meloan and long-since departed players like Chip Hale, Ed Vosberg and Alan Zinter.

    “”It’s their program, even the guys that I had that went to Omaha in 2004. Those guys have all done some special things,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez.

    Roughly 2,000 fans turned out for the event, which lasted only six innings and featured a home run derby beforehand won by the alumni.

    After the game, the current players took the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the players who came before them.

    “”I was always excited to see who was coming back, who was still playing and just to hear some stories, because a lot of stories over the weekend get thrown around,”” said Zinter, who finished 3-for-3.

    “”It gives them hope because they can actually see that the future’s a short future if they work hard.””

    As for the game itself, the current team opened the scoring when Steele trotted home after the alumni’s Mike Barker misplayed third baseman Erik Castro’s fly ball to left field in the top of the second.

    The alumni knotted it up on a sacrifice fly an inning later, but current shortstop Robert Abel stole third and scored on Ziegler’s infield single in the bottom half of the third.

    Donald, a former UA shortstop, tied the game at two in the bottom of the fourth, driving home pitcher Ed Vosberg.

    “”Anytime you can help out the ball club, even in the alumni game, it’s still a lot of fun,”” said Donald, a Philadelphia Phillies prospect who finished 1-for-3. “”I was still trying to get some work in and seeing some live pitching and getting myself to go.””

    Peep’s single in the fifth scored Ziegler for the go-ahead run a half inning later.

    The Wildcats open the season Friday, hosting Gonzaga for a three-game series, but Lopez was content to escape the exhibition unscathed.

    “”Nobody got hurt, and we ended up winning, didn’t we? Hey, that’s right,”” he said. “”It was a good day.””

    Extra Bases

    The alumni team won the home run derby 3-2 on Zinter’s walk-off blast that bounced off the top of the wall. Current first baseman Bill Rhinehart was the only contestant with multiple home runs, hitting two … Said Zinter, an 18-year professional baseball veteran, of his three hits: “”Yeah, how about that? I don’t know if I’ve had many alumni hits, so after so many years, I deserve three hits.””

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