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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

North Dakota State up next for Arizona baseball

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Jordan Glenn

Arizona baseball infielder Scott Kingery (25) records a hit during Arizona’s 6-2 win against Eastern Michigan at Hi Corbett Field on Sunday. Kingery and the Wildcats take on North Dakota State in a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Arizona baseball returns to Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday to host the North Dakota State Bison. The Wildcats (3-0) swept their opening three-game home series against Eastern Michigan last weekend.

The two-game series is part of Arizona’s heavily loaded nonconference schedule, which features 19 games in 23 days.

Cody Hamlin will start on the mound for his first time this year on Tuesday against the Bison. The right-handed submarine pitcher was snubbed from the weekend rotation after underperforming in comparison to other candidates during the preseason.

Hamlin debuted as a closer in Friday’s opening night 7-3 win, striking out five of the seven batters he faced, and threw 33 pitches in two innings of work.

“He’s in the mix,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “We’ll be settled in by the [Pac-12 Conference], but right now, you have to get it done, and if not, you’ll go back in that pen.”

Another one of those in the mix is Nathan Bannister, who will follow Hamlin with a Wednesday night start.

Bannister made an appearance in 13 games as a reliever last season. His 5.40 ERA yielded 23 hits and 11 runs in 15 innings. Lopez said he sees the right-hander as a top pitching contender this season.

Sunday’s starting pitcher, Tyger Talley, said having the competition with a deep bullpen can only help Arizona’s tenacity in the long run.

“I’d rather go as deep as I can and take the innings then go to the bullpen,” Talley said. “I’d rather rest [the relievers] and have them healthy for the rest of the season.”

For a team that lacked depth in the pen last year, having this battle early in the season comes as a relief to veterans such as catcher Riley Moore.

“We might not have Vanderbilt stuff where every arm coming out is throwing mid-90s,” Moore said, “but I think the mentality we have on the mound is mid-90s.”

North Dakota State is coming off a three-game losing streak in the Grand Canyon University Classic in Phoenix over the weekend. NDSU faced GCU, Bradley University and University of Nebraska, Omaha, in the three-day Classic.

The Bison gave up leads in the games against GCU and Omaha, and went into extra innings against Bradley, before allowing five unanswered runs in the top of the 10th. The team recorded just 25 hits throughout the weekend.

Arizona, on the other hand, proved the loss of second baseman Trent Gilbert to the MLB didn’t affect its offensive performance. The team collectively batted .368 on the weekend and raked in 21 hits in Saturday’s matchup alone.

Returning starter Scott Kingery demonstrated an easy transition from outfield to second base with no errors and nine assists over the weekend. He also went 7-13 with his bat in the series, scoring the first home run of the season Saturday. Kingery was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for his efforts.

Arizona outfielder Justin Behnke, a transfer from South Mountain Community College, also had a hot bat over the weekend, tallying three runs and an RBI in his three starts at center field.

“The sweep gives us some confidence,” Behnke said. “We still have things we need to work on. These next two games will allow us to work on those.”

The first pitch today is at 6 p.m.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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