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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Baseball aces Friday, fails next 2 days”

    After its ace out-dueled the reigning co-Player of the Year to open the series, the Arizona baseball team’s pitching staff reverted to the 2006 form of itself.

    And behind that poor starting pitching, the Wildcats (9-2) dropped the final two games of the three-game set to No. 12 Cal State Fullerton (7-2) in Fullerton, Calif., 9-0 Saturday and 9-2 yesterday.

    “”I just think pitching sets the tempo, sets the tone,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”Friday, our guy did a great job, Saturday our guy was horrible, (yesterday) our guy was just OK. ‘OK’ – that’s a generous ‘O’ and a generous ‘K.'””

    The Wildcats took Friday night behind a gem of a game from ace Preston Guilmet, who got the better of the decorated Wes Roemer in leading Arizona to a 2-1 win in the series-opener Friday night.

    Guilmet (2-0) went 7 2/3 strong innings, scattering five hits and striking out nine, which tied a career-high. Closer Daniel Schlereth pitched the final inning and a third, striking out three for his third save of the season.

    Roemer (2-1), who finished last sea son with 145 strikeouts against just seven walks, went eight innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a Wildcat while striking out nine.

    “”Obviously when you’re facing … Wes Roemer, it’s going to be a real challenge,”” Lopez said.

    And while the Arizona pitching staff entered the weekend with a near-flawless resume – a perfect 8-0 record, 2.00 ERA with 66 strikeouts against 26 walks – things fell apart Saturday and yesterday, when starters Brad Mills and Mike Colla had a combined 15.88 ERA, giving up 10 earned runs on 15 hits. It was an eerie reminder of the staff that last year finished with a 5.41 ERA.

    The biggest difference from Friday to the rest of the weekend?

    “”Not a lot of location with their pitches,”” Lopez said. “”Mills was nowhere near a strike.

    “”For the most part, Guilmet and Schlereth pitched well, and the rest of the guys enjoyed Southern California.””

    Colla (1-1) was rocked Sunday, giving up seven runs – five earned – on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings. He struck out four, but couldn’t get outs when he needed to.

    But Colla’s offense – and defense, which committed four errors – did little to help him, scoring four runs this weekend after having scored less than eight runs only once in its first eight games.

    “”We faced the Atlanta Braves this weekend: (Greg) Maddux, (Tom) Glavine, (John) Smoltz. I guess so. I guess they are,”” Lopez said. “”Time will tell. Time will tell.

    “”Obviously, we struggled.””

    Down 4-1, Arizona had runners on second and third with nobody out in the top of the fourth, but Fullerton’s Sean Urena got left fielder Brad Glenn, center fielder T.J. Steele and third baseman Erik Castro to pop out in succession to end the threat.

    The Titans’ Bryan Harris then took Colla’s first pitch of the bottom half of the inning to deep left field to extend the lead to 5-1, and center fielder Clark Hardman added another shot two batters later to make it 6-1.

    David Coulon took over for Colla in the fourth, and finished with six strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. He gave up a lone run on two hits, but struggled with his control, walking five.

    Down 8-2 with one run across and the bases loaded for Steele in the top of the eighth, the Wildcats had one final chance to climb back into the game. But Steele struck out swinging to strand the fifth, sixth and seventh Wildcats on base to that point.

    Urena (1-0) picked up the first win of his career after surrendering just two runs over 7 1/3 innings.

    A day after he was removed early in the game for a base-running blunder that saw him get picked off second base, right fielder Jon Gaston planted a deep ball to straight-away center off the batter’s eye in the top of the third inning to cut the Titan lead to 2-1. The solo shot was Gaston’s second of the year.

    But Fullerton tacked on two more in the bottom half of the inning for a 4-1 lead.

    After the big win Friday night, Arizona was shut out Saturday for the first time since the 2005 season, a stretch lasting 82 games.

    Fullerton’s Jeff Kaplan (2-0) silenced the Wildcat bats, striking out a career-high 11 in the complete-game shut out.

    Mills (2-1) was hit hard for Arizona, giving up five earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings, and the defense behind him didn’t do much to stop the bleeding, committing five errors and allowing three more unearned runs to score.

    Lopez said afterwards that he’d take a look at the rotation heading into next weekend’s series with Nevada-Las Vegas.

    “”We’re going to throw Guilmet on Friday, Guilmet on Saturday, Guilmet on Sunday,”” he said sarcastically. “”And we’ll close with Schlereth on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.””

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