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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sidewinders on deck after baseball ends hectic travel

    Arizona short stop Jason Donald throws to first  during Arizonas game against Arizona State, Sunday April 2, 2006 at Chase Field in Phoenix. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Arizona short stop Jason Donald throws to first during Arizona’s game against Arizona State, Sunday April 2, 2006 at Chase Field in Phoenix. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    From the bay to chase

    The Arizona baseball team may have just found the answer to its hitting woes: Don’t take batting practice.

    In the middle of a 16-hour day that started in Berkeley, Calif., and ended at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, there was simply no time between buses and airplanes to warm up Sunday night for the 5 p.m. nonconference tilt against rival No. 14 ASU (23-9, 2-1 Pacific 10 Conference). The Wildcats started in the top of the 13th inning at California’s Evans Diamond on Sunday morning following the halt of Saturday’s game due to darkness.

    “”It’s been a long, long day,”” said senior infielder Brad Boyer on Sunday night.

    The remnants of a suspended second game of a Saturday doubleheader – Friday’s game between Cal (16-12, 4-2) and Arizona (13-14, 1-2) was rained out – Sunday morning’s game was the first part to the Wildcats’ travel-filled day, which began around 8 a.m., when the team headed to Evans in preparation for 10 a.m.’s first pitch.

    After the Bears’ senior right fielder Ron Nesbitt’s walk-off shot ended the game with one out in the bottom of the 13th – the continuation of the game lasted all of 15 minutes when all was said and done – there was not a moment to waste. The team made its way directly to the airport to catch a 12:30 p.m. flight, arriving in Phoenix around 2 p.m. and Chase Field at 3 p.m.

    Or, in the words of freshman outfielder Colt Sedbrook, the team “”hopped on a bus, got on a plane; plane ride for about an hour and a half, got on a bus, came to this field, got out here, stretched and played a ball game.””

    Arizona head coach Andy Lopez could be grateful it was his team, and not its overall performance, that stunk.

    “”We literally did not take a shower (after the game in Berkeley), got in sweats and flew down here, got in here an hour before game time and took no batting practice.

    “”That might be the key, 13 hits,”” Lopez joked. “”In fact, Arizona may never take batting practice again.””

    Added Sedbrook: “”Our batting practice was at 8:15 this morning.””

    So had anyone on the team ever even heard of, let alone taken part in, anything like this?

    “”I’ve been a head coach for 30 years – I’ve never done what I’ve done in the past 32 hours,”” Lopez said. “”This is quite a stretch.””

    “”I mean I’ve played in a doubleheader before,”” Boyer said, “”but not traveling the same day, coming to this amazing ballpark – this is once-in-a-lifetime.””

    “”It’s been a long weekend,”” he continued. “”I’ve been up since 7 o’clock, been at the field since 8. It was rough, I’m not going to lie.””

    And Sedbrook? “”Who would ever think that?”” he said. “”You think maybe a border town, but from California to Arizona all the way from Berkeley to Phoenix? It’s pretty cool.””

    Now, with the offense clicking – they had 11 runs on 13 hits on Sunday – Lopez jokingly said he may have found a permanent solution to Arizona’s sputtering offense.

    “”This may be a new secret,”” he said. “”We may show up Little League-style one hour before game time now.””

    Boyer believes that the team’s batting, which have been lacking pop in recent weeks, is the only thing holding it back.

    “”Once we get this offense going, this is going to be a pretty solid team,”” Boyer said.

    Even with his offense turning the corner, the day’s events took a toll on the Wildcat coach.

    “”I’m sure they’re feeling better than a 52-year-old man,”” Lopez said when asked about his exhausted team Sunday night. “”I’m wiped out. I can’t wait to get home and get to sleep.””

    He won’t be able to get too much sleep, however, as his team prepares for a 6 p.m. exhibition game tonight against the Tucson Sidewinders, the Triple-A affiliate of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks.

    The game, which will be the Wildcats’ fifth in six days, presents some concern for Lopez as far as the arms of his pitching staff go.

    “”They’re young guys and they’re resilient, but they still are fragile,”” he said. “”We have 17 freshmen. … We told guys, ‘Hey you’re going to have to pick up the slack here.'””

    Now, as the team tries to begin to build momentum from the win over ASU, tonight’s exhibition will be more about continuing to do the things that were done well on Sunday night than anything else.

    “”I’m not unhappy with this team, I’m very proud of this team,”” Lopez said of his club’s sub-.500 record. “”We’re playing everybody so doggone close, it gets a little tiresome, but boy, they play hard every time out, they really do.””

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