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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseball juggles rotation; closer Melancon starting

    After Arizona starting pitchers struggled in the first two series of the season, Wildcats baseball head coach Andy Lopez decided earlier this week to move junior closer Mark Melancon – the program’s all-time saves leader – to the Friday night starting pitching slot.

    Melancon (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start the second collegiate game of his career today as the Wildcats (4-2) go against New Mexico (3-1) at 4 p.m. at Sancet Stadium. The series continues tomorrow at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

    Despite the move from the bullpen, Lopez said his expectations of Melancon are the same.

    “”I really don’t expect anything but good things out of Mark in that role,”” Lopez said. “”He’s talented enough. He’s been in pressure situations.””

    Melancon started his first collegiate game in 2004 as a freshman, giving up five earned runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against ASU.

    “”I started one time as a freshman,”” Melancon said. “”It was a mid-week game and it didn’t go so well, so hopefully I will redeem myself this weekend.””

    Melancon will be replaced in the closer role by his roommate, redshirt freshman Daniel Schlereth (0-0, 0.00), who has recorded two saves and nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.

    “”The luxury we have is Daniel Schlereth,”” Lopez said. “”He’s talented enough. It’s a matter of getting adapted to the circumstances and the situation.””

    Schlereth admitted he has big shoes to fill as he steps in to the closer position – both literally and figuratively, as Melancon wears size 14 shoes and Schlereth wears size 12.

    “”There definitely is a lot of pressure coming into this role,”” said Schlereth, who started in high school. “”But I feel like I’ve dealt with it OK thus far.””

    Sophomore southpaw Eric Berger (1-1, 6.30) will be moved from the Friday night starting role to the Saturday slot.

    “”Eric Berger hasn’t done anything bad,”” Lopez said. “”It’s just that we have an option with Mark. Hopefully it’s a win-win. It’s not like we’re locked into this. We’re trying to figure out what’s going to be the best possible situation for us.””

    Junior lefty Brad Mills (2-0, 3.24), who was used as a reliever earlier this season, is slated to start Sunday over freshman Mike Colla (0-0, 6.43), who started the first two Saturdays this year.

    “”He’s a junior,”” Lopez said. “”I’m always partial to the upper-class guys. I think the upper-class guys should get a chance to perform early in the season.

    Mills gave up five runs – only three of which were earned – and six hits in five innings of work to the Highlanders on Sunday. He also tallied six strikeouts.

    “”Everything is geared to get ready for Pac-10 (play) for me,”” Lopez said. “”He pitched very well on Sunday at Riverside.””

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