The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

48° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Program wins 2,500th game”

Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

A 10th inning walk-off home run on Sunday off sophomore Jett Bandy’s bat capped a historic weekend for Arizona baseball.

With an 8-1 win over Utah Valley at Sancet Stadium on Friday night, Arizona became the seventh team in the NCAA to win 2,500 games, an accomplishment that head coach Andy Lopez was happy to be connected to.

“”It’s an honor to be a part of this program, and I’ve said that forever,”” Lopez said. “”I’ve admired it from a distance and I told our guys, ‘You made a little history tonight.'””

Arizona (3-0) kicked off the season in proper fashion with the historic win on Friday night and carried the momentum throughout the series sweep.

Freshman Kurt Heyer set the tone with an electrifying debut against Utah Valley (0-3) in the season opener as the Wildcats followed to win both sides of a Sunday double header 18-1 and 8-7.

Making his first collegiate start, Heyer struck out 13 Wolverines over six innings, showing a veteran demeanor on the mound by keeping Utah Valley guessing as he mixed up off-speed pitches and consistently fired first pitch strikes.

“”It was everything I could have hoped for. Not many freshmen get to do this,”” Heyer said of starting the Friday night opener. “”I didn’t think I would do that well, to be quite honest with you. Hopefully I can keep progressing and throw next Friday, if that’s possible.””

Bandy, Heyer’s catcher, propelled the Arizona offense throughout the weekend.

He blasted home runs in all three games, including the 10th inning walk-off shot in game two of Sunday’s double header that completed the Wildcats’ comeback win over Utah Valley.

“”I felt like I was seeing (the ball) pretty well. I was just trying to slow everything down and hit the ball somewhere,”” Bandy said.

Utah Valley jumped on redshirt junior Daniel Workman, who started game two on Sunday, grabbing a 6-0 lead in the second inning.

Freshman Stephen Manthei stepped up for the Wildcats out of the bullpen, delivering four and a third innings of scoreless relief that allowed Arizona to come back and set up Bandy’s heroics in the 10th.

In the first game on Sunday, the Wildcats chased the Utah Valley starting pitcher after just three and two-thirds innings after freshman Joey Rickard singled in a run to put Arizona up 7-0.

Rickard added a three-run homer to deep left in the fifth to provide plenty of breathing room for sophomore pitcher Kyle Simon.

Simon, who was tagged as the pre-season favorite to be the ace of the staff, turned in eight innings of impressive work, striking out seven while using a heavy two-seam fastball to induce ground balls.

After being hit in the head with a ball during practice last week, Simon’s start was pushed back a day. Rain forced the sophomore to wait another day to make his season debut, but he did not disappoint, saving Lopez from having to go to his flagging bullpen.

“”We’re a little banged up on the mound right now. I really wish we weren’t, but it’s early,”” Lopez said. “”Just as long as we don’t drag this into the season, we’ll be all right, we just need to get through this first week or so.””

A slew of freshmen got their feet wet this weekend, showing some grit by not bowing out when they fell behind on Sunday.

“”I remember my freshman year, and I was hitting … your adrenaline is going and your heart is pumping,”” said Bandy, now a sophomore. “”As an older guy having been here before, you just have to tell them to slow it down and relax and just focus.””

“”You don’t want to play the other team, you don’t want to play the scoreboard, you just want to play the game,”” he added.

Lopez’s young Wildcats began the season on the right foot by sweeping what turned out to be a historic opening series. However, he was quick to keep his team humble, telling them that there was plenty of history left to be made.

“”They played well,”” Lopez said. “”Hopefully they can build off of it. But there’s a long way to go. The history you want is to get on that blue (college world series berth) board, and hopefully one day hang one of those red (national championship) signs. That’s the history you want.””

 

Top Performers

Kurt Heyer (1-0)- 6 IP, 13 K’s, 3 H, 1 ER

Jett Bandy- 8-15, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 8 R, 2 2Bs

Kyle Simon (1-0)- 8 IP, 7 K’s, 5 H, 1 ER

Rafael Valenzuela- 7-13, 7 RBIs, 3B, 2B, 4 R

Joey Rickard- 7-12, HR, 4 RBIs, 2B, 3 R

Up Next

Arizona will host Long Beach State (1-2) in Sancet Stadium for a three game series beginning on Feb. 26.

 

 

 

More to Discover
Activate Search