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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Red-hot Wildcats host No. 6 Bruins

Arizona junior pitcher Daniel Workman rears back to throw a pitch during the Wildcats? 4-2 victory over No. 1 ASU in Tempe on Tuesday. Workman got the start because of a pre-game injury to freshman Cory Bernard, but made the most of it and is now back in the rotation after a one-month hiatus.
Arizona junior pitcher Daniel Workman rears back to throw a pitch during the Wildcats? 4-2 victory over No. 1 ASU in Tempe on Tuesday. Workman got the start because of a pre-game injury to freshman Cory Bernard, but made the most of it and is now back in the rotation after a one-month hiatus.

The Arizona baseball team took the nation by storm Tuesday when it defeated No. 1 ASU in Tempe.

And when the No. 17 Wildcats host No. 6 UCLA in a three-game series starting tonight at 6, they have a chance to prove that they belong in the conversation for the Pacific 10 Conference’s top team.

“”People are going to think, ‘OK, they got away with ASU one time, they’re probably not going to do it with UCLA,'”” said freshman pitcher and tonight’s starter Kurt Heyer. “”But that’s not going to happen.””

Although a three-game sweep wouldn’t catapult the Wildcats into first place in the Pac-10 standings, victories over the conference’s two best teams in the same week would earn the Wildcats (27-9, 7-5 Pac-10) the unquestioned respect of the collegiate baseball world.

“”We’ve been saying amongst ourselves, ‘We’re a good team, we’re here to compete and (No. 1 in the Pac-10 is) where we want to be at the end,'”” said junior pitcher and Sunday’s starter Daniel Workman.

“”Every week you get a chance to go out and prove how good you are,”” he added. “”When you beat better opponents, everybody kind of verifies that for you.””

But Arizona will have its hands full with a top-notch Bruins squad (27-6, 5-4) that boasts the best pitching staff in the conference — all three of UCLA’s starters’ ERAs are below 3.00.

Friday-night starter Gerrit Cole (6-1, 2.98 ERA) headlines the UCLA staff.  He was drafted 28th overall by the New York Yankees out of high school in 2008, but decided not to sign and now leads the Pac-10 in strikeouts. Cole will be followed by equally impressive Trevor Bauer (5-2, 2.65 ERA) and Rob Rasmussen (6-0, 2.52 ERA) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

But as has been the case all season, Arizona isn’t worried about the UCLA’s numbers, but rather, what it needs to do to come out victorious.

“”It doesn’t really matter the ERA or how fast they throw or what they’ve done,”” said Heyer, who is coming off of a 14-strikeout, 8 2/3-inning performance against Washington State.

“”It’s not like we’re playing the Yankees or something. We’re just going to play our game,”” he said. “”We’re going to get base hits, we’re going to hit our spots on the mound and we’re going to do everything possible to get a few W’s this weekend.””

All season, the baseball world has been waiting for the youngest team in the Pac-10 to hit a wall, but the Wildcats continue to pull out victory after victory against some of the nation’s best.

For those who still aren’t believers in the Arizona baseball team, a successful weekend against UCLA should hush the doubters.

“”It’s putting our name out there. It’s showing that we can play with all these top-ranked teams,”” Heyer said of a successful weekend against UCLA.

Workman in weekend rotation

Heading into the 2010 season, the Arizona baseball coaching staff was hoping redshirt junior Daniel Workman would be able to nail down the role of the Sunday-starter.

But Workman struggled with arm tightness and fell out of the rotation. After freshman pitcher Cory Bernard blew out his arm Tuesday before the ASU game, Workman was called upon for an emergency start, and he responded in a big way by leading UA to a victory over the nation’s top team.

“”I said, ‘Workman, you’re going,’ and the next thing, I was getting the ball from him in the seventh,”” head coach Andy Lopez said. “”It was a pretty impressive performance, it really was.””

Lopez saw Workman talking to his dad five or 10 minutes before the game and thought, “”Maybe he’ll throw an inning tonight.”” But after the Bernard injury, Workman went from maybe an inning to tossing a gem — something no one couldn have imagined a week ago.

“”I’ve just kind of been waiting, that’s the only thing you can do,”” Workman said of his mindset during his month out of action. “”It ended up working out like that. It was kind of a crazy situation.””

Because of his impressive start in a huge game, he earned himself a start this Sunday, exactly what Workman and the coaching staff wanted from day one.

“”That’s where I wanted to be and that’s where they talked to me about being all year, so right now it’s just take the bull by the horns and go after it,”” Workman said.

Bernard set for Tommy John

After injuring his elbow while warming up for his first collegiate start against ASU last Tuesday, freshman pitcher Cory Bernard will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season and most likely all of next season as well.

“”I knew he did it. It was not a pretty experience when he was getting loose. It’s too bad,”” said head coach Andy Lopez. “”He’s out for a full year next year. It’s a 12-, 13-month experience, rehab and all the rest.””

The 5-foot-7 pitcher and infielder boasted a 2.25 ERA in four appearances this season, and at one point was competing for the closer’s job.

Bernard also contributed at the plate, lengthening Arizona’s rally against Washington State last weekend with a base hit in the team’s 12-11 comeback victory.

Bernard will now undergo one of the most difficult recuperations in all of baseball.

“”His spirits are pretty good — a lot better than mine, to be honest with you. It’s a tough one for a young guy,”” Lopez said. “”He’ll be OK, but I feel badly for him. That’s the bugaboo with baseball.””

Lopez facing alma mater

Arizona head coach Andy Lopez played two seasons at UCLA, and was the team captain and starting shortstop in 1975. But despite the emotional ties, Lopez made it clear that this weekend’s series doesn’t hold more meaning than any other series.

“”I think I’m too old now,”” Lopez said when asked if this series meant more to him. “”Probably in the ‘90s (it would have meant more). Danny Guerrero and I are good friends, the athletic director, and we laugh and joke whenever we compete against each other.””

“”But now it’s like, golly, I just want to keep playing well,”” he added. “”I don’t care who (the opponent is), I just want Arizona to keep playing good baseball.””

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