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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Pitching, offense spark weekend domination”


Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2011 season.

Powered by senior Josh Garcia’s three home runs and six RBI during the weekend, No. 19 Arizona hit and pitched its way to a sweep of North Dakota State, outscoring the Bison 30-2 over the three-game series at Frank Sancet Stadium.

“”I’m happy with how the weekend went,”” Lopez said. “”We’re always looking for solid pitching, which we got all weekend, and I thought our defense was outstanding. I’m real happy about that. It’s hard for me to think of something that I’m not happy with.””

Even though Lopez was pleased with how his team played, he said that it was the type of performance that he expected entering the weekend.

“”I really felt pretty good about this group going into the weekend,”” Lopez said. “”I would have been very disappointed if we wouldn’t have performed well this weekend.””

Arizona got the series started off on the right foot on Friday, beating the Bison 10-0 behind Kurt Heyer’s seven-inning, five-hit effort and Bryce Ortega’s 3-for-4 day at the plate, including 4 RBI.

For Ortega, it was his first game back since fracturing his L5 vertebrae last March.

“”Everything feels good,”” Ortega said. “”I’ve been doing some good rehab, so I don’t see anything bad happening, knock on wood.””

In Saturday’s contest, Arizona knocked off NDSU 12-1 behind Kyle Simon’s seven innings of one-hit baseball and career-high 13 strikeouts.

“”It’s almost like pitching in wiffle-ball practice,”” Simon said of pitching in wind gusts of up to 30 mph. “”I never really strike out guys, but that was nice to have tonight.””

Saturday’s game was also when Garcia started his power surge, pounding two balls over the left-field fence.

Garcia swung the momentum in Arizona’s favor in the third inning of Sunday’s game by belting a grand slam after NDSU opted to pitch around Robert Refsnyder to load the bases.

“”Some pride gets involved there,”” Garcia said of NDSU’s decision to face him rather than Refsnyder. “”I was seeing (the ball) pretty good, and they kept throwing me inside fastballs, so I took advantage of it.””

Even though Arizona’s performance was nearly flawless during the weekend, it wasn’t without individual struggles.

Junior catcher Jett Bandy — tabbed as a preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger/TPX — went hitless in his first 10 at bats, but singled in two of his final three plate appearances Sunday.

“”Sometimes the first one is the hardest one to get, but, once you get it, then they start to fall,”” Bandy said. “”I don’t know what to tell you (about the struggles). I was probably trying to do too much. The game was going too fast, so I tried to slow it down and things started clicking.””

Lopez also used the trio of shellackings to get some of his newcomers experience.

Konner Wade, a freshman from Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School, made his first appearance as a Wildcat in Sunday’s game, pitching a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

Daniel Ponce de Leon didn’t give up a run in two-thirds of an inning, striking out both batters he faced. Freshman Jacob Doyle, out of Glendale’s Deer Valley High School, recorded the last out of the game, striking out the only batter he faced.

Arizona resumes its season next Friday, when the Wildcats travel to Long Beach State for a three-game series.


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