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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseball returns home for nonconference matchup

    UA pitcher Mike Colla hurls the ball in a 4-1 win over New Mexico at Sancet Stadium on April 22. The Wildcat pitching staff is largely responsible for the UAs recently snapped 13-game winning streak and will push for another streak starting tonight against San Diego State.
    UA pitcher Mike Colla hurls the ball in a 4-1 win over New Mexico at Sancet Stadium on April 22. The Wildcat pitching staff is largely responsible for the UA’s recently snapped 13-game winning streak and will push for another streak starting tonight against San Diego State.

    The Arizona baseball team’s season-high 13-game winning streak was snapped last weekend, but little could be blamed on its pitching staff.

    Through three games against the defending NCAA champions Oregon State, the Wildcats pitching staff allowed only seven runs – the fewest in a three-game series since Arizona allowed six three weeks ago against Washington.

    Arizona ace Preston Guilmet (5-2) even threw the team’s second complete game of the year in shutout fashion.

    With a team ERA of 3.68 – the lowest in the Pacific 10 Conference – and every Wildcat pitcher with at least one win above .500, Arizona (28-13, 7-8 Pac-10) heads into tonight’s matchup at 7 against San Diego State (25-19) with one of the hottest staffs in the game.

    “”We have a great pitching staff,”” UA right fielder Jon Gaston said. “”You have to give them credit. They’re putting up a lot of zeros on the board and really carrying us at times.””

    Arizona’s pitching staff has been especially stingy lately. Since the Wildcats’ first meeting with the Aztecs, Arizona has given up just over three runs per game on average while recording seven victories in which opponents scored two or fewer runs.

    Throughout the streak of hot pitching, much has gone overshadowed by the recent wave of production the Wildcats’ offense caught during the team’s 13-game winning streak in which Arizona averaged just under seven runs per game.

    The hot bats of third baseman Brad Glenn and first baseman C.J. Ziegler matched with production from unlikely sources such as catcher Dwight Childs, all worked to mask the strong performances of Arizona’s pitching staff.

    But against OSU, as the Wildcats’ bats struggled, Arizona pitching grabbed the spotlight and despite the losses, still shined.

    While Guilmet’s complete-game shutout was a hard act to follow, southpaw David Coulon (6-3) and right-hander Ryan Perry (4-2) combined Saturday to allow only three earned runs through eight innings with the Beavers’ fourth and deciding run
    coming unearned.

    On Sunday, starting pitcher Eric Berger (4-3) held OSU scoreless through the first four frames before running into trouble in the fourth. Still, the right-hander managed to

    escape with only three earned runs on four hits while collecting five strikeouts, much to the help of Arizona dynamic relief duo of Daniel Schlereth (1-0) and Jason Stoffel (2-1).

    “”Those two together are something we’re lucky to have,”” Guilmet said. “”If we get into the sixth, seventh or eighth inning and we have the lead, there’s no doubt in my mind we’re not winning that game. They’re really something special.””

    Through 37 2/3 innings Schelereth – Arizona’s typical set-up man – has a remarkable ERA of under 2.50.

    Meanwhile, Wildcats closer Stoffel has been untouchable with an ERA of under 2.40 over 28 1/3 innings of work while also collecting eight saves for Arizona on the year.

    The duo also accounts for 97 of Arizona’s Pac-10 leading 382 strikeouts as one of the most dangerous one-two punches in
    the conference.

    “”As a team we have a lot of confidence in those two guys,”” Gaston said of Schlereth and Stoffel. “”They’re (near the top) in the conference in strikeouts and they’re relievers. That says a lot.””

    While today’s starter is still to be determined, the likely suspect will be right-hander Mike Colla (4-2). The junior has looked impressive at times throughout the season, but with an ERA of 4.60 for the year, he will need more production from the streaky
    Arizona offense.

    During the team’s 13-game winning streak, the Wildcats’ offense appeared in top form, but against OSU, Arizona struggled in critical situations – especially Sunday when the team stranded nine, including a failed conversion of a bases-loaded opportunity in the ninth inning.

    “”It’s frustrating for everyone,”” Guilmet said of Arizona’s missed offensive opportunities. “”We know we’re just one run away from putting runs on the board that we need.

    “”But from a pitcher’s perspective, we have confidence in our offense that they can do something big at any time,”” he added. “”We just focus on going out and putting up zeros.””

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