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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball set for final nonconference play

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Savanna Douglas

Arizona baseball infielder Kevin Newman (2) tags up to first base during Arizona’s 10-0 win against New Mexico State on Wednesday at Hi Corbett Field. Newman and the Wildcats take on Portland over the weekend.

Arizona baseball returns to action for its last nonconference weekend series as the Wildcats (12-4) host the Portland Pilots (4-12) for a three-game series at Hi Corbett Field. Portland will be the last team Arizona plays before going into Pac-12 Conference play and facing Utah next weekend.

The Pilots visit Tucson after a 14-2 loss against another Pac-12 school, Oregon State.

Although Portland has won only four games this season, Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez said the record doesn’t matter, and Arizona should not look at its opponent as anything less than a team that can play baseball.

“Every team can present challenges,” Lopez said. “I tell the guys to never look at the opponent [and] to just play the game. We don’t even put the opponents’ names on the board. We never do that. We’re just trying to play the game.”

The Pilots have faced three Pac-12 schools this year. Oregon, Washington and Oregon State have all defeated Portland with six runs or more.

It has been more than 10 years since Arizona and Portland faced each other for a two-game series. The Wildcats won both games against the Pilots in that last matchup.

“We need to come back this weekend and try to get everything done,” Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman said. “We have to work on everything we have been getting away with.”

Going into the weekend, the offensive leaders for Arizona are second baseman Scott Kingery, Newman and center fielder Justin Behnke. Newman is sitting nice at a .400 batting average, and Kingery is batting .456, going 31-for-43 on the season.

Newman said Arizona will continue with the same approach it has had during nonconference games, because the team is close to where it wants to be.

“We’re supposed to crush these teams, and we are really close to getting over the hump with the good teams,” Newman said. “We’ve been in the game a couple times, and it’s just a matter of getting over that hump.”

One thing Lopez is concerned about coming into the weekend is the amount of runners Arizona left on base during the New Mexico State mid-week series. Lopez said quality at-bats and driving runners are things he is emphasizing for this weekend before the team hits Pac-12 play.

“Hopefully we can get that out of our system before the weekend,” Lopez said. “I think we have done a horrible job offensively.”

The first game of the series is Friday at 6 p.m., followed by games on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

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