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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Offensive slump adds to list of woes for UA baseball

    The Arizona baseball team’s bubble has officially burst.

    With its fourteen game winning streak gone, so went the Wildcats’ No. 1 ranking.

    Through a frustrating spring break week, No. 2 Arizona (13-5, 1-2 Pacific 10 Conference) went a meager 3-4 against Cal State-Fullerton (12-8), No. 1 ASU (19-1, 1-0) and USC (11-9, 2-1), respectively.

    The Wildcats dropped their first series of the season 2-1 in their first conference matchup against USC over the weekend with a pair of 5-0 losses.

    “”It’s been a pretty frustrating week,”” said UA designated hitter Dillon Baird. “”We haven’t played very well and obviously in baseball if you don’t play well you’re not gonna win.””

    While Arizona’s defensive struggles are nothing new, the ineffectiveness of the offense came as a foreign concern.

    In the final two games of the series against USC, Arizona managed to scratch together only seven hits and no runs. Third baseman Colt Sedbrook and shortstop Bryce Ortega contributed to the majority of Arizona’s offense, a total of five hits through the series’ final two games.

    The consecutive shutouts were the
    Wildcats’ first two shutout performances of the season as well as the first two times they have failed to score at least three runs in a game on the year.

    “”It’s unbelievable we got shutout two games,”” Baird said. “”The way our offense is, we got a lot of big hitters. We know we can put up a lot of runs, but for these last couple games it hasn’t happened for whatever reason.””

    In the series clincher, USC starting pitcher Ryan Cook (3-1) went the distance in the first complete game Arizona has seen this season. Before Sedbrook singled to left in his final at bat in the ninth, Cook retired the previous 17 Arizona batters. In all, the right-hander struck out five while allowing one walk in the five-run Trojan win.

    Arizona’s Eric Berger (1-1) did not fare as well. The southpaw picked up his first loss of the season while lasting only 4 2/3 innings after allowing four runs on eight hits despite striking out six and allowing two walks.

    The most damage came in the fifth inning when the Trojans touched up the lefty for three runs.

    “”I can just try to throw my stuff and hope I don’t get hit too hard,”” Berger said. “”A lot of hits were on the ground. We just need to play catch a little better, but the (fifth) inning got kinda big and (USC) started getting a rally going.””

    With the way the Wildcats played in the series opener, it’s hard to believe how the final two games went.

    Game one starter Preston Guilmet (3-1) gave seven strong innings allowing only two runs on seven hits.

    Arizona’s potent offense was present and hammered Trojan pitching for 14 hits with five home runs and a double en route to a 10-2 victory in both team’s conference opener.

    Taking the spotlight in the Wildcats’ offensive explosion was designated hitter Dillon Baird. The sophomore joined the exclusive list of former Arizona sluggers by sending three balls over the fence.

    Baird became the first Wildcat to do so since Brad Glenn in February 2007.

    “”That was pretty fun,”” Baird said of his three-homer day. “”I’ve never had that happen before.

    “”I felt as comfortable as ever and was just seeing the ball really well,”” Baird added.

    Even Arizona’s defense looked stellar in Friday afternoon’s performance as it committed no errors, a far cry from the final two games of the series in which the
    Wildcats would go on to commit six.

    The errorless effort came as a nice break from the overwhelming defensive struggles that plagued Arizona throughout the week.

    Errors hurt Arizona the most Tuesday in a 6-5 loss to ASU. A pair of errors led to two unearned runs off starting pitcher Mike Colla (1-1). With relief pitchers Ryan Perry (1-1) and Daniel Schlereth (1-0) ending the game with 4 1/3 shutout innings, the runs proved to be the
    determining factors.

    Led by the numerous defensive miscues, Arizona is the owner of losses in four of its last five games including the conference-opening series loss to the Trojans.

    “”I think (the losses) just show everybody that we were ranked number one and we’re not invincible,”” Berger said. “”We just need to work hard throughout the week and play like we’re capable of playing and that’s pretty much it.””

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