The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

52° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball finally puts pieces together

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats baseball team hosted the Rice University Owls on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at Frank Sancet Field in Tucson, Ariz. The visiting Owls rode an 8-run fifth inning to win 11-7.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats baseball team hosted the Rice University Owls on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at Frank Sancet Field in Tucson, Ariz. The visiting Owls rode an 8-run fifth inning to win 11-7.

For an Arizona baseball team that was on the threshold of a lost season just a week ago, it’s amazing what a weekend can do.

After a series sweep against the visiting Southern California Trojans, the Wildcats (27-16, 9-9 Pacific 10 conference) have now played themselves back into postseason contention.

After Sunday’s sweep-clinching victory, head coach Andy Lopez talked about the urgency of the team mindset and how every game counts this late in the season.

“”(I told them), ‘You’re either going to place yourselves into this thing or you’re gonna sit around and ask yourselves why,'”” he said. “”I was really happy with the weekend, (Friday) was a big night with extra innings, (Saturday) was a little bit of a breather, (Sunday) was one of the better games I felt good about all season.””

Coming into the series, the Wildcats had dropped two straight conference road series before falling to ASU in a non-conference match-up last Tuesday, and it was the offense that was subduing the Arizona effort.

The solution to the anemic offensive came in the form of 32 runs on 41 hits in the three weekend games alone, including a season high 20 runs scored just on Saturday night for the Wildcats.

Bullpen finally bouncing back

For the first time all season the bullpen performed well across the board. While Matt Chaffee has remained consistent, the other relievers have started to follow suit.

Three weeks ago, Lopez seemed to have given up on lefty Bryce Bandilla, but the fireballer’s recent switch to a four-seam fastball has pitched well of late and has ignited the bullpen.

Chaffee and Bandilla, along with help from Vincent Littleman, solidified a gem of a weekend for the Arizona ‘pen, combining for 12.0 innings, allowing zero runs on just six scattered hits and retiring 11 Trojan batters on strikes.

“”It’s not a shut down staff,”” Lopez said. “”I knew that when we showed up here in February, but they can be effective when they throw strikes and I think they’ve been doing a great job with that.””

For starter Kurt Heyer, who had a rough Sunday outing, it’s a relief to have confidence in his teammates who take the mound after him.

“”It’s nice,”” Heyer said. “”It takes a little weight off my shoulders now. I’m feeling comfortable with whoever we give the ball to every time I come out.””

 

Refsnyder leading the offensive charge

Sophomore outfielder Robert Refsnyder had eight RBI’s and two home runs on just Saturday and Sunday alone against USC.

It was his RBI double and two run homeruns that sparked the Wildcats to come back from a 5-0 deficit and beat the Trojans 8-5 on Sunday.

Refsnyder’s 42 RBIs and his .571 slugging percentage are tops on the team.

But based on this past weekend, the runs are coming from all over. Even if the numbers weren’t there across the board, the clutch hits were.

One could argue that Joey Rickard’s performance over the weekend wasn’t as stellar as his usual, but his RBI single to center capped the Wildcats 8-5 Sunday victory.

Arizona’s combined batting average of .323 is tied for fifth in the nation and it is atop many categories in the Pac-10. The Wildcats maintain the top four run scorers in the conference, with Bryce Ortega leading with 45, followed by Refsnyder, Rickard, and Cole Frenzel.

Rickard and Frenzel are also leading the Pac-10 in batting average hitting .384 and .383 respectively.

More to Discover
Activate Search