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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball welcomes a challenge

Tyler Baker  /  Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA Baseball lost 9-2 to San Francisco Sunday afternoon. The Cats won the series overall 2-1.
Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball lost 9-2 to San Francisco Sunday afternoon. The Cats won the series overall 2-1.

No. 10 Arizona (10-3) welcomes a challenge this week as Texas Tech (7-5) heads into Tucson Tuesday night for the first game of a two game mid-week series.

The two game series should be a good non-conference test for the Wildcats who are coming off a lackluster 9-2 loss to San Francisco this past Sunday.

Texas Tech’s pitching staff, which ranks fourth in the Big 12 conference, will be the challenge for Arizona, who will need to set an early tempo in two games. Through 13 games this season, it has become evident that the success of the Wildcat’s offense feeds into the pitching staff. In many of Arizona’s 10 victories the offense gave the starting pitchers a solid lead to work with.

“When the offense comes out hot like that, it definitely makes me more comfortable and relaxed out there,” freshman Cody Moffett said after making his debut start Feb. 27.

This week, the Wildcats offense most likely will not have to face the Red Raiders’ ace starting pitcher Trey Masek. The junior has made three starts this year and has yet to give up an earned run in 24.0 innings pitched.

Texas Tech will likely throw Matt Withrow (2-1) and Jonny Drozd (1-0) today and Wednesday, as they are the Red Raiders’ typical mid-week starters. Both struggled in their latest start against Florida International last week.

Arizona’s mid-week starting rotation has been tinkered by head coach Andy Lopez and pitching coach Shaun Cole. But even after having a rough outing last week against Utah Valley, the coaches have decided to give sophomore Tyler Crawford (1-1) another opportunity in game one of the Texas Tech series. Wednesday’s starter is expected to be Moffett or senior Nick Cunningham.

Moffett shined in relief this past Sunday when he came in for damage control and Lopez hinted after the loss that Moffett might have played his way into the Sunday starting role. Moffett’s competition, Cunningham, has also been battling all season for the job and could win it if he is given the opportunity to pitch Wednesday.

The series with Texas Tech will be Arizona’s first and only non-conference games against a major “BCS” conference opponent before they start Pac-12 play in a couple weeks.

Even though the Red Raiders only have a team batting average of .244 and rank eighth out of nine teams in their respective conference, the short series will give the Wildcats a good idea of where they are.

Unlike many teams, Texas Tech will not bow down to Arizona’s recent national championship title and will force the Wildcats to play tough through all nine innings. Lopez has been looking for a test like this and, win or lose, he said he wants to see his players seasoned before the conference play starts.

“When Pac-12 season starts, we’re going to see a lot better pitchers and hitters [than we have so far],” shortstop Kevin Newman said. “We got to learn where our weaknesses are now and improve on them so when [conference] play starts, we’ll hopefully be flawless.”

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