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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

It’s a simple game

Baseball has never been put into perspective better than when Joe Riggins — the manager of the Durham Bulls in the 1988 movie Bull Durham — was venting his frustrations with his squad after another poor performance.

“”This is a simple game,”” he said. “”You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.””

Using this formula, the Arizona baseball team not only threw it, hit it and caught it, but the team simply dominated the North Dakota State Bison in its opening series of the season last weekend, winning 10-0, 12-1, and 8-1 in consecutive games.

The pitching

It was a banner weekend for the Arizona pitching staff that, on the backs of starters Kurt Heyer, Kyle Simon, and Tyler Hale, allowed only two runs in 27 innings of baseball.

On Friday, Heyer held the hill for seven strong innings and tallied eight strikeouts on the night.

Coming into relieve was junior left-hander Matt Chaffee, who capped off the evening without giving up a hit while striking out three.

The next day, it was Simon’s turn, and he didn’t disappoint. He pounded the zone for seven innings, retiring 13 batters on strikeouts, a career high, and only allowing one hit.

Hale’s Sunday provided much of the same for the Wildcats. His four-hit, one-run performance was commendable, but it was the Wildcat bullpen that finally got its chance to shine.

Freshman relievers Konner Wade and Daniel Ponce de Leon combined for four strikeouts in just five outs on the mound.

The hitting

At first glance, it appeared the new bats had an effect on the offense on the first night of the series, with neither team hitting a home run. But UA designated hitter Josh Garcia wasn’t buying into it.

In the next two games, he managed to shove away the skeptics by hammering three home runs, including a third-inning grand slam on Sunday.

The wind was howling on Saturday, and Arizona head coach Andy Lopez thought that it wasn’t so much the bats, but the wind speed, that led to three Wildcat homeruns.

First baseman Cole Frenzel wanted to give a little more credit to the hitters.

“”Those balls that left the yard,”” he said, “”they were still struck well. I’m pretty sure they were still going to go out.””

Frenzel had a weekend to be proud of as well, collecting five RBI on Saturday alone and stealing two bags for the Wildcats in the first game of the series.

For Garcia, his three dingers matched his total from what was an injury-riddled spring last year, and he finished the weekend batting .500, going 6-for-12 at the plate with six runs scored and six RBI.

All in all, Arizona totaled 31 runs coming off of 41 hits, compared to the two runs on 12 scattered hits for the Bison.

The catching

The Wildcat infield looked like a vacuum during the weekend, with Bryce Ortega showing his range and great digs out of the dirt at first base from Frenzel.

No fielding problems to speak of at all for the Wildcats.

What does it mean?

The Wildcats have proven they are fundamentally sound and will need to continue playing that way as they take on perennial powerhouse Long Beach State.

“”It’s going to be good, we’re ready,”” said an optimistic Garcia. “”Especially if the pitching stays strong like it is. You know with the hitting, if we’re not squaring balls up, we can always go to our short game with bunting and stealing.””

Lopez, like every coach, preaches throwing, hitting and catching on a daily basis, and only time will tell if the team can keep up with his demands.

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