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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseball drops six during break

    JAKE LACEY

Baseball vs Cal State Fullerton. Sunday.
    Jake Lacey
    JAKE LACEY Baseball vs Cal State Fullerton. Sunday.

    Just when things were starting to clear up – literally – it began to pour for the Arizona baseball team, as the Wildcats dropped their sixth straight game yesterday, 5-3 to No. 7 Cal State-Fullerton at Sancet Stadium.

    With the loss, the Wildcats (10-11) dropped to under .500 for the first time since the 2001 season, when Arizona started out 5-6 under former head coach Jerry Stitt. The Titans improved to 17-6 after winning 5-3 on Saturday and 6-4 on Friday.

    “”We’re right in games – one inning here, one inning there – it’s kind of killing us right now,”” said junior shortstop Jason Donald. “”We’re playing good but obviously not good enough to win. We’re in games, we just kind of got to get over that hump a little bit.””

    After Donald put his team back in the game by crushing his second home run of the year, a two-run shot to left that put the Wildcats up 3-2 after six innings, Fullerton senior second baseman Justin Turner opened the floodgates, awakening a Titan offense that lay dormant for most of the game.

    Leading off the seventh, Turner evened the score at three with one swing of the bat against Wildcat sophomore pitcher David Coulon, homering to the deepest part of Sancet Stadium.

    “”Once we got up on them, I thought we would hold the lead, but we didn’t,”” Donald said. “”You have to give a lot of credit to (Fullerton); they have a good offense – they’re a good team. They’re (No. 7) in the country for a reason.””

    Though Coulon settled down, retiring the next six batters, Fullerton junior third baseman Evan McArthur singled to lead off the ninth, then advanced to second after redshirt sophomore outfielder Clark Hardman sacrificed him to second with a bunt.

    That set the stage once again for Turner, who responded by doubling home McArthur to give the Titans a 4-3 advantage they would never relinquish.

    Fullerton’s senior starter Dustin Miller (5-1) went eight innings for the win. Coulon (0-2) was charged with the loss.

    “”They played better than we did, and that’s the bottom line,”” said Arizona assistant coach Mark Wasikowski, who served as acting head coach for the Wildcats as Arizona head coach Andy Lopez was in Los Angeles tending to family issues. The Wildcats are 1-4 in games without Lopez.

    “”We didn’t get many hits. … They got a lot of hits, they clutched stuff at the right time,”” Wasikowski said. “”They made plays when they needed to. They made pitches when they needed to.””

    A game that saw the first pitch delayed for 51 minutes, then again for another 25 in the top of the sixth – this time for hail – took more than four hours to complete after its scheduled start time.

    The Wildcats struck first in the bottom of the second, when freshman left fielder David Plante hit a one-out sacrifice fly to score junior catcher Konrad Schmidt from third.

    The Titans tied the game in the top of the fourth, when junior center fielder Brandon Tripp singled up the middle past a diving second baseman in senior Brad Boyer, scoring sophomore right fielder Jared Clark from second.

    They then took the lead one batter later as senior catcher Cory Vanderhook motored home from second after McArthur singled past Donald.

    The Wildcats came into the game riding a five-game losing streak that started over spring break in Starkville, Miss., after being swept by then-No. 6 Mississippi State (15-0) 3-2, 9-2, 5-4, and then dropping the first two games of the series to Fullerton.

    “”It’s frustrating,”” said Boyer. “”We’ve been playing good baseball. These last 10 games, we’ve been playing better than we had our first 10.

    “”We’re going to be just fine,”” he added. “”If you look at our record, it doesn’t look like it, but we’re about to explode.””

    It was the first time since 1998 that Arizona was swept two weekends in a row.

    “”The bottom line is we’ve got to win games,”” Donald said. “”We’re going along the right path I think. The first 10 games we were pretty sloppy, and the last 10 we’ve been pretty good.

    “”So this is the start of a new 10, and we didn’t play too bad today. We’ve just got to swing the bats better.””

    Saturday’s game saw a Wildcat rally fall just short in the bottom of the ninth, as they had runners on second and third with no outs, but junior closer Vinnie Pestano worked his way out of a jam to secure his seventh save. After saving yesterday’s game, he earned saves in all three games and has eight on the year.

    On Friday, after the Wildcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, the Titans scored four runs in the top of the fifth and then added one more in the top of the ninth to hold on for the win.

    “”Through success and through failure, that’s how you learn,”” Wasikowski said. “”You don’t want to have to learn through failure, but every club that is a good club has to go through failure to get to the success.””

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