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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona pitching staff flirts with record books

    The No. 23 Arizona baseball team’s pitching staff inched closer to setting another record Tuesday night when UA starter Mike Colla pitched a shutout through five innings.

    Although New Mexico scored in the next inning, Arizona still sits one complete shutout away from tying a 30-year high – six shutouts in a season, posted by the 2005 pitching staff.

    So far, the Wildcats’ five recorded shutouts included two scoreless games in their past 14 contests.

    Earlier this season, Arizona’s pitching staff recorded 34 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings from March 7-14 against South Alabama, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Notre Dame and No. 15 Cal State-Fullerton. The Wildcats posted back-to-back shutouts against USC on April 21-22.

    “”We’re getting hot right when we need it,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”We got a little stretch of Pac-10 games here. This is a perfect time to get hot.””

    Defense improves with 12-game win streak

    The Wildcats knew fielding errors affected the team mentally, but the biggest impact of sloppy defense can be seen in the win column.

    The Wildcats posted 36 consecutive errorless innings before last night’s blunder in the third inning when shortstop Bryce Ortega committed his seventh of the year.

    “”We’re just relaxed,”” said third basemen Brad Glenn. “”We’re not out of control anymore, we grew up a bit defensively and that has shown lately.””

    Arizona committed 51 errors through its first 26 games to begin the season with a 15-11 record. Since then, the Wildcats have committed 10 errors through a season-high 12-game winning streak.

    “”We’re going through a good stretch right now, our guys are doing a good job,”” Lopez said. “”This is a tough thing for young people who don’t have any time to practice.

    “”If things start going wrong, you can’t stop and practice for a couple days, you just have to say, ‘Hey, go get better in games,'””
    Lopez added.

    Pac-10 race heating up

    And you thought the Pacific 10 Conference men’s basketball chase had parity.

    One week ago today, Arizona occupied the bottom of the conference standings, tied with Washington State at 3-6. Just three games later, the Wildcats (6-6) sit tied in fourth place – a mere two games behind conference-leading Stanford (8-4).

    Amidst scattered conference play, Pac-10 baseball already experienced a barrage of marquee matchups through April.

    “”I knew this league was going to be very tough, we put ourselves in a hole the first couple weekends,”” Lopez said. “”I think we came out of it last weekend but we have to keep playing well.

    “”(The league) has good teams playing every Friday, Saturday, Sunday – there’s a lot of good baseball,”” Lopez added. “”We were fortunate this last weekend to get some good pitching and clutch hits.””

    Both No. 5 Stanford and Oregon State – two-time defending national champions – took two of three games from No. 6 ASU this month, giving the Cardinal soul possession of first place. After ASU’s 7-5 Pac-10 record comes No. 7 California, which lost two of three at USC on April 11-13.

    Both USC and Oregon State have identical 6-6 conference records with Arizona, tying them all up for fourth place with six weekends remaining on the schedule.

    Arizona hosts Stanford and ASU to end the season, but the Wildcats will travel to Oregon State and California beforehand.

    Baseball America lists four of the conferences’ nine teams in its national poll.

    “”(The Pac 10’s) always been a good pitching conference, it was that way when I was playing,”” Lopez said. “”So you have to be protective at the plate and you got to keep pitching well and play good defense.””

    – Bobby Stover contributed reporting

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