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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arms let down baseball

    UA pitcher Kyle Simon prepares to hurl a pitch toward home during a 15-14 Arizona loss to USC on Saturday at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats gave up 28 runs to the Trojans during the three-game series.
    UA pitcher Kyle Simon prepares to hurl a pitch toward home during a 15-14 Arizona loss to USC on Saturday at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats gave up 28 runs to the Trojans during the three-game series.

    Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez had a lot to talk about after Sunday’s rubber match against the Trojans in which the Wildcats received their second-straight poor starting effort on the mound.

    Starter Donn Roach made his first start since losing his spot in the rotation in early March due to academic issues, but he couldn’t make it past the fourth inning in a 7-3 series-clinching loss to USC (13-14, 4-5 Pacific 10 Conference).

    “”We have to get better starting pitching,”” Lopez said. “”We haven’t pitched well all season. We’ve got some young guys and there’s a learning curve that comes with that; I realize that, but that curve has to move toward knowing what you have to do and how to be successful at this level.””

    The freshman right-hander pitched well for Arizona (13-14, 2-7 Pac-10) through three innings, allowing just two runs on five hits with a strikeout.

    But in the fourth, the Trojans figured him out and blasted eight hits – including four straight to start the inning – in addition to charging Roach with five more earned runs, forcing Lopez to pull Roach for sophomore Daniel Workman.

    Workman – who currently carries the second-lowest ERA on the staff at 2.84 – held USC at bay through his 2 1/3 innings of relief work, allowing only four hits with a pair of strikeouts.

    Then Arizona’s usual late-inning combo of senior Cory Burns and junior Jason Stoffel continued the Wildcats’ strong relief effort by shutting out USC’s offense the rest of the way.

    Unfortunately for Arizona, the damage had already been done.

    “”It’s not like all of (the pitchers) are struggling,”” Lopez said. “”Burns pitched well and Stoffel pitched well. We just need those young guys to start pitching better. I feel we’ve been patient with them, but now it has to happen.””

    While the Wildcats’ starting pitcher struggled, the same could not be said for Roach’s counterpart, USC right-hander Robert Stock, who went the distance while picking up his second win of the year.

    Stock (2-1) allowed only six hits and three earned runs while fanning seven Wildcat hitters, in what was Arizona’s worst offensive performance since its 7-3 loss to Arizona State on March 21.

    Only four Wildcats managed to get hits off Stock on Sunday, and their only runs in the game came in the first two innings.

    Arizona appeared to be off to a hot start in the bottom of the first when designated hitter Shaun Cooper belted a two-RBI double to the left-center field wall.

    Catcher Dwight Childs followed with an RBI single to center in the next inning, but that would be all the offensive production Arizona would get the rest of the day as the Wildcats sent no more than four batters to the plate in each of the final seven innings.

    “”I saw an OK fastball, an OK changeup, and a decent slider – nothing special,”” Childs said of Stock. “”His perseverance and his presence on the mound is what makes him really good. Obviously he’s a young ball player, but he doesn’t show it. He plays old and that’s what makes him special.””

    While Sunday’s offensive struggles came as a change in the series, the poor pitching effort early in the game plagued Arizona for the second day in a row.

    Saturday starter Matt Veltmann’s first-inning struggle in the 15-14 loss opened the door for a 10-run opening inning for the Trojans.

    From that point on, Arizona spent the rest of the night chasing USC’s consistent offense, and the Wildcats eventually fell one run shy after mounting multiple rallies, including one which scored a runner and left two stranded in the bottom of the ninth.

    The failed comeback in game two came just a day after Arizona’s first walk-off victory of the season.

    Arizona cut a four-run deficit to one after a three-run eighth inning, then loaded the bases in the ninth as left fielder Brad Glenn came to the plate.

    The senior took advantage and smacked a single through the right side, scoring two and giving Arizona the dramatic 7-6 win.

    “”It was a great win for us mentally,”” Glenn said after Friday’s game. “”It’s always good to get a win in the Pac-10, and especially with the way we’ve been playing, so these guys were pretty excited.””

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