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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Baseball hosts Utah Valley

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.

Pitching wins championships. Unfortunately for No. 17 Arizona, starting pitching is only half of the equation.

Arizona’s three-man weekend rotation — consisting of Kurt Heyer, Kyle Simon and Tyler Hale — has combined for a record of 5-1 and a miniscule .95 ERA, but the bullpen has struggled as the Wildcats head into a three-game home series with Utah Valley University.

Arizona’s pen has given opposing hitters 15 free passes so far in 2011, shooting itself in the foot during the series against No. 21 Rice University on its way to a series split.

“”When you walk too many people, you’re not going to win,”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “”The game’s not meant to be played that way.””

Junior catcher Jett Bandy thinks that the bullpen’s control problems may be mental.

“”Some guys need pep talks and for you to boost them up, but some guys just need for you to calm them down,”” Bandy said. “”I’m really confident in our staff. We have a lot of tough guys, we’ve just got to get their confidence up.””

The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native emphasized that early in the year is the time to get younger pitchers some experience.

“”You’ve got to get the guys with less experience out there and see how they do,”” Bandy said. “”You’ve just got to get them to fill up the zone. If they get a hit, it’s better than walking them.

Bandy has had struggles of his own, but they’ve been in the batters box. The junior picked up his first extra-base hit of the season with a double Wednesday, but he knows that he can’t press himself too hard.

“”I think I’m starting to pick it up,”” Bandy said. “”You can’t be (worried about it). The game honors toughness, and once you start thinking about stuff and say, ‘Hey, I’m not doing well,’ that’s where the game gets you.””

Lopez said that midweek series are a test of pitching depth, and that cost Arizona against Rice. Fortunately for Arizona, its trio of starters has reached at least the seventh inning in every weekend series.

“”They’ve shortened the season up, and (the NCAA) is telling you to play 56 games in a condensed season,”” Lopez said. “”I looked at the scores last night … I don’t think big league teams have enough arms to go five times a week without having a bad game. It’s painful early in the year sometimes.””

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