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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Baseball takes series with UMass

    Members of the Arizona and UMass baseball teams engage in a mid-game scuffle during a 9-0 Wildcat win Sunday afternoon at Sancet Stadium. Arizona won two games of a three-game series against the Minutemen.
    Members of the Arizona and UMass baseball teams engage in a mid-game scuffle during a 9-0 Wildcat win Sunday afternoon at Sancet Stadium. Arizona won two games of a three-game series against the Minutemen.

    In a baseball game featuring a bench-clearing brawl and an abundance of late-inning runs, the star of the game turned out to be Arizona starting pitcher Matt Veltmann.

    The sophomore went 5 2/3 innings in the Wildcats’ 8-0 series-clinching win over Massachusetts (3-3) Sunday, collecting his first win of the season, and improving to 1-2 on the year.

    “”Veltmann set the tone for the day in terms of getting quality starts,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”If you want to get critical, he didn’t throw a lot of first-pitch strikes; but hey, he pitched really well. I’m proud of him.””

    Veltmann held the Minutemen hitters off-balance throughout his outing, allowing only four hits and a pair of walks while giving up no earned runs with five strikeouts.

    The transfer from San Diego Community College made his first start for Arizona (8-5) since receiving an epidural shot Monday to treat a bulging disk in his back – an injury he sustained while helping his family move in December.

    The injury caused Veltmann to lose his effectiveness, as the right-hander struggled in his first two starts and entered Sunday’s game with an ERA of 14.40.

    According to Veltmann, Monday’s injection had a huge impact.

    “”I had a lot more confidence on the mound and was finally able to throw with my regular motion,”” Veltmann said. “”Before (the injection) my back would start to hurt and I’d have to stretch it out a bunch of times, but today it felt normal. It was good to actually throw again without pain.””

    Following Veltmann’s exit in the sixth, things got heated in the bottom of the frame as a pickoff attempt led to both teams rushing the field.

    After Massachusetts pitcher Nick Serino threw to first in an attempt to pick off Arizona first baseman Dillon Baird, the UA junior and UMass first baseman Peter Copa got tangled up, resulting in shoving, which then led to the clearing of both dugouts and bullpens.

    After the umpires got everything sorted out, three players from each team were ejected. On Arizona’s side were Baird and outfielders Diallo Fon and Matt Presley. All three will face three-game suspensions.

    The positives resulting from the squabble were immediately apparent as Arizona used the emotion to fuel a four-run rally. Added to the three runs the Wildcats put up the inning prior, Arizona increased its lead to 7-0.

    “”Sometimes you need to light a fire under your ass,”” UA catcher Dwight Childs said. “”When I was playing with the (USA) Junior National team we cleared the benches twice with Cuba and the same thing happened. There’s lots of energy in the dugout ð- guys are alive and you get to see guys backing guys.

    “”I think it really fired us up,”” Childs added, “”and we needed it at that point.””

    The Wildcats added another pair of runs in the eighth while UA closer Jason Stoffel used three innings of work, in addition to five strikeouts, to earn his third save of the season.

    Sunday’s exciting finale capped a series in which Arizona saw more ups than downs from its starting pitching.

    Friday starter Preston Guilmet returned to form in the series’ opener, going seven-strong in his first winning effort of the season.

    Right-hander Donn Roach could not follow Guilmet’s performance Saturday, as the freshman suffered through his second-straight rough outing. Roach lasted only three innings while allowing four earned runs on seven hits.

    The Wildcats’ offense used a late-inning rally to keep the game close at the end, but the rally fell one run short as Arizona lost 9-8.

    “”All of our losses have stemmed from one thing and that’s starting pitching,”” Lopez said. “”We showed that this weekend. Two of the three outings were pretty good and we got the result we wanted in those two. We just need to improve our consistency.””

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