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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Baseball team wallops Saint Joseph’s

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Beating the teams you are supposed to beat is a staple of successful sports teams, and three days after taking two of three games from California State University, Fullerton, the Arizona baseball team took care of business against Saint Joseph’s in a double-header, sweeping the two-game series in lopsided fashion.

The Wildcats (8-4) pounded the lesser Hawks (1-8) into oblivion, outscoring them 29-5, thanks to 38 hits — on a combined .470 team batting average — and solid pitching from freshman Vincent Littleman, sophomore Kyle Simon and the Arizona bullpen.

“”(Saint Joseph’s) was a team that we were supposed to take care of, and we did,”” said senior first baseman Rafael Valenzuela, who went 5-of-10 with six runs, four RBIs and four doubles on the day. “”We put a lot of runs up, we got a lot of hits. It was nice to just come out here and do a good job.””

Arizona took the field for its 10th game in 13 days. But if the Wildcats were fatigued against the Hawks, it certainly didn’t’ show from the first pitch to the final out.

“”I thought they were playing as hard at the end as they were six hours ago,”” said head coach Andy Lopez after Game 2.

Game 1 was over before the umpire had a chance to say “”play ball,”” as the Wildcats recorded 22 hits and coasted to a 17-3 victory. Littleman did yield a run in the first inning, but the UA bats made up for it in a hurry. Arizona plated nine runs off of 10 hits before the fourth out of the game was even recorded.

The Hawks, who lost a game 33-1 to New Mexico State on March 5, burned through two pitchers in the first inning, and were torn apart on the base paths. The Wildcats swiped five bags in the first two innings, including four in the second inning alone. 

Runners kept moving — nine stolen bases on the series — and the aluminum kept connecting, as every Wildcat that started the game recorded a hit before the end of the fourth inning.

The middle of the lineup, Valenzuela and sophomores Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy, dominated Game 1, combining for 10 hits, nine runs and seven RBIs. Selsky missed the cycle by a home run, while Bandy went 3-for-4.

“”They’re swinging it,”” Lopez said of the trio. “”Those are the guys that we’re counting on. We can’t count on all of those freshmen. They’re doing a great job.””

As for the Arizona pitching, Littleman coasted for five innings in his first collegiate start, allowing only two runs on seven hits while striking out five.

The Arizona bullpen handled the rest as they yielded only one run for the next four innings en route to a UA victory.

The Wildcats picked up right where they left off in Game 2. The Hawks tried to cool of the scorching Wildcat bats, but to no avail.

After two first-inning runs, the scorching Wildcat bats cooled off momentarily, as they only plated two innings through the second, third and fourth innings. But six fifth-inning runs blew it open, and another ridiculous hit total of 16, lifted the Wildcats over the Hawks, 12-2.

Simon, the preseason favorite for the No. 1 starter job, slightly bounced back after two ugly starts that saw him allow 10 runs on 13 hits and six walks. The 6-foot-5 righty went 3 innings because of a pitch count, but allowed only one run on two hits.

Sophomore Bryce Bandilla, who will be taking Simon’s spot in the weekend rotation, was impressive, as he threw three innings of scoreless, three-hit ball while striking out five.

“”A little bit more effectiveness,”” Lopez said of Simon. “”A little bit better strike (to walk) ratio which is good. He’s just got to throw more strikes.””

Arizona made easy work of the Hawks, and Lopez feels good about where his team is with less than three weeks left before Pacific 10 Conference play begins.

“”Double-headers are hard to sweep, but all in all I’m very happy with the way these guys played,”” Lopez said. “”They’re young, but this group plays hard, and I can live with that.””

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