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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats intend to keep thunder rolling

    Arizona short stop Jason Donald throws to first over Stanfords Ryan Seawell during the sixth inning of Arizonas 12-3 win over Stanford, Sunday April 23, 2006 at Kindall/Sancet stadium. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Arizona short stop Jason Donald throws to first over Stanford’s Ryan Seawell during the sixth inning of Arizona’s 12-3 win over Stanford, Sunday April 23, 2006 at Kindall/Sancet stadium. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Arizona baseball vs. southern utah

    Before last weekend’s series against Stanford, Andy Lopez called out his upperclassmen. They weren’t producing, and with a team as young as the Arizona baseball team, the juniors and seniors needed to step up if the Wildcats wanted to win some games.

    “”We’ve got a young team, 17 freshmen, so you know what that’s going to be like,”” said Lopez, Arizona baseball’s head coach. “”The older guys were probably going to have to have pretty good years to carry the load for those freshmen. Well, that hasn’t happened.

    “”I learned a long time ago that when you have a young team, if it walks like a duck, it talks like a duck, it flies like a duck, guess what, it is a duck.””

    But seniors Brad Boyer, a second baseman, and Derek Decater, an outfielder, and juniors Jason Donald, a shortstop, and Bill Rhinehart, an outfielder, responded in a big way, going 17-for-49 (.346) with two homeruns, 16 runs scored and 12 RBIs in a 2-1 series win over the Cardinal.

    “”It makes life easier, doesn’t it?”” Lopez said. “”It makes our team easier when they – for lack of a better word – produce. It takes a lot of the strain off.””

    Said Boyer: “”This weekend … the older guys, we did a great job, and so did the younger guys. Everyone’s coming together right now.””

    Lopez hopes his upperclassmen can continue to swing the hot bats when Southern Utah comes to town for a two-game set starting tonight at 6 and continuing tomorrow at 1 p.m.

    “”If now’s the time they’re going to get hot, and we make a run at something,”” he said, “”then that’ll be worth it.””

    The two schools last met in 2002, with Arizona holding a 10-2 advantage in the all-time series.

    The Thunderbirds (20-14, 6-2 Mid-Continent Conference) are set to throw right-handed senior ace Kasey Hubbard (4-3, 5.13 ERA) tonight and fellow senior righty, Larry Ellenbrook (3-4, 6.29), tomorrow. The Wildcats (17-20, 5-7 Pacific 10 Conference) have yet to determine their starters.

    “”Hopefully we can find someone from the minor leagues to pitch (today and tomorrow),”” Lopez quipped. “”Because I don’t know who’s going to pitch.

    “”We just don’t have a lot of pitchers right now.””

    The Wildcats will most likely use a combination of a number of pitchers, as Tuesday is a normal bullpen day for the staff.

    Though the series with the Thunderbirds won’t affect the Pac-10 standings, the two games can definitely help the Wildcats gain some much-needed confidence as they head in with a modest two-game winning streak.

    “”We got to go out (today) and (tomorrow) and … win games,”” Boyer said. “”Obviously, our main focus is on playing the ‘Pac,’ but play soundly during the week, and then carry it on over to Washington.

    “”We’re going to build some momentum here.””

    Injuries continue to hamper Wildcats’ lineup

    Junior closer Mark Melancon is out three to four weeks after an MRI showed he strained a ligament in his throwing arm, and freshman outfielder Jon Gaston missed the Stanford series with injuries to his ankle and wrist.

    Sophomore ace Eric Berger remains out for the year with an elbow injury.

    “”Anybody who loses your Friday-night guy and your closer, you got a tough road ahead,”” Lopez said. “”But that’s still not an excuse for not playing hard.

    “”We’re hurt; ok, so that’s a fact,”” he added. “”We’re in a hole; that’s a fact. But we’re not out yet, and we’ve got to keep playing hard.””

    Donald rebounds after early errors

    Defensive gaffes attributed to a decline in the quality of pitching from Wildcat hurlers before last weekend’s series, but they were able to work their way out of trouble despite three errors by Donald early in the game.

    He rebounded in the later innings with a couple of diving stops to keep the Cardinal hitters at bay.

    “”It just happens sometimes I guess,”” Donald said. “”Guys kinda tease me on the team that I make the hard play look pretty easy and easy play sometimes seem more difficult.””

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