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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Rotation solidifies as streak ends

A wind-aided fly ball off the bat of an Oregon hitter drifted over the right field fence Sunday to snap Arizona baseball’s 15-game winning streak.

Despite the loss, head coach Andy Lopez said the Wildcats did exactly what they needed to do to be successful in Pacific 10 Conference play — win two out of three games.

With Arizona’s 25-game homestand coming to an end Sunday, the team learned to watch for several things as it prepares to hit the road this week.

Starting rotation taking shape

Lopez had shuffled through different combinations of starting pitchers this year before he reached what looks like an answer to his weekend rotation.

Freshman Kurt Heyer has been the anchor all year, turning in another solid performance in Friday’s win over Oregon by turning in six innings of work and allowing just one run to go with five strikeouts.

“”Kurt Heyer is just unbelievable,”” said sophomore catcher Jett Bandy. “”We come out here for early (batting practice) at 1:30 and he’s out here at the same time or even before us just doing dry work and just doing different stuff to make himself better, and that’s what we need out of a Friday night guy.””

It looks like sophomores Bryce Bandilla and Kyle Simon will get the nods on Saturday and Sunday. Bandilla has fully transitioned into a starter after beginning the year as the closer, and on Saturday tossed a career-high 6 1/3 innings of one-run baseball to further make the case that he belongs in the rotation.

Simon struggled early in the year but has responded, and it appears that he’ll be the team’s Sunday starter. His experience and ability to induce ground balls makes Simon a solid No. 3.

“”I was happy with him,”” Lopez said of Simon’s performance on Sunday when he left the game with an 8-4 lead after seven innings. “”I see steps of growth, I really do. I think he’s headed in the right direction.””

Winning streak comes to an end

Sunday’s 9-8 loss to the Ducks put a stop to Arizona’s 15-game winning streak. The streak gave the Wildcats a shot of confidence and some momentum, even garnering national attention as they climbed to as high as No. 19 in the national rankings.

Looking back, as Lopez said, “”some of our numbers offensively are almost comical.””

Arizona outscored its opponents 166-53 during the winning streak, thanks to a lineup that now has five players hitting over .400, not to mention Joey Rickard’s .394 batting average.

The Wildcats fell just one game shy of tying Lopez’s record at Arizona for consecutive wins, which came in 2007 when his team won 16 straight. The 15-game winning streak that ended yesterday is the eighth longest in school history, with the record being 21 in a row.

Clear closer still uncertain

Freshman Nick Cunningham recorded a save on Saturday, only to blow a save chance in the ninth inning on Sunday.

With fairness to Cunningham, he was on his third straight day of work, as the Arizona bullpen was missing some of its late inning options this weekend. Lopez said on Sunday he was still waiting for one of the freshmen to grab the reins.

“”One of these three guys is going to rear his head and say, ‘OK, I’m the guy,'”” Lopez said. “”That’s really all we’re looking for. Between (Tyler) Hale, (Cory) Bernard and Nick (Cunningham), one of them is going to say, ‘You know what, I’m your closer here for the next couple of years.'””

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