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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball hosts Utah Utes

UA+Baseball+vs+Portland+3.9.15
Savannah Douglas
UA Baseball vs Portland 3.9.15

Arizona baseball begins Pac-12 Conference play by hosting Utah (4-11) for a three-game series at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats are coming off a three-game sweep over Portland, while the Utes are coming off a 2-1 series win against Kansas, their first series win of the season.

Arizona took the three-game series 2-1 against Utah last season.

Arizona is approaching the weekend with an aggressive mindset, even though Utah stands in the bottom of the Pac-12.

“We have to play just how we have been playing, but maybe a bit tougher, just because it’s conference play now,” Arizona center fielder Justin Behnke said. “There’s better pitching and better batters, so it’s different now.”

Leading the Utes offensively are juniors Wyler Smith, Cody Scaggari and sophomore Dallas Carroll.

Arizona second baseman Scott Kingery and shortstop Kevin Newman are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the nation for runs scored and base hits.

The Wildcats are riding a six-game winning streak, their longest since 2013. They are also leading the Pac-12 with a .339 batting average while leading the nation in hits (226) and runs (151).

Arizona right fielder Jared Oliva said the team’s approach will not change.

“There’s no different approach,” Oliva said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing to keep winning, especially in the next games.”  

The Wildcats trailed in all three games against Portland last weekend, but rallied to win all three. Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said that when conference play begins, he wants the team to execute the way it did during those games.

“There has been good execution from them and they need to keep doing that if they want to win,” Lopez said.

The pitching rotation for the weekend will have a change for Friday’s game.

Cody Hamlin will be on the mound Friday, while Robby Medel will remain Saturday’s starer and Tyger Talley will start on Sunday. This will be Hamlin’s first weekend start of the season and Medel’s first Pac-12 start.

Utah’s probable starters are Bret Helton, Dalton Carroll and Jayson Rose.

Arizona leads 55-7 in the all-time series and is seeking its first opening Pac-12 series win since 2012.

“We can get it done, we just have to stay focused coming into the weekend,” Oliva said.

The first pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m.

During spring break, Arizona will travel for just the second time this season to play Stanford in a three-game series. The Wildcats will play Stanford March 20-22, with the March 20 and March 22 games being televised on Pac-12 Networks.

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