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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseball to shake up lineup against LaSalle

    Arizona junior shortstop Jason Donald takes a crack at a pitch during the Wildcats 6-5 loss to New Mexico Feb. 17 at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats hope to rebound against LaSalle in a three-game series that starts today at 4 p.m.
    Arizona junior shortstop Jason Donald takes a crack at a pitch during the Wildcats’ 6-5 loss to New Mexico Feb. 17 at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats hope to rebound against LaSalle in a three-game series that starts today at 4 p.m.

    With three series under its belt, the only consistency for the Arizona baseball team so far this season has been change.

    After the Wildcats (5-4) dropped their first series of the season to New Mexico last weekend, adjustments have been made to both the pitching rotation and lineup.

    Sophomore pitcher Eric Berger (1-2, 4.76 ERA), who pitched Saturday in Arizona’s 7-3 loss to New Mexico, will return to the Friday night spot he started the year in when the Wildcats host LaSalle at 4 p.m. at Sancet Stadium.

    Berger said that he doesn’t have a preference which night he throws because he views every start the same.

    “”Every night is a Friday night game,”” he said. “”That’s the way I look at it. It’s nice to have that role because you’re competing against all the school’s aces on that night.””

    Freshman right-hander Preston Guilmet (0-0, 5.79) is slated to make his first career start Saturday at 4 p.m., while junior southpaw Brad Mills (2-0, 5.56) will throw on Sunday at noon.

    “”I’ve always been a starter (in high school), and I came down here to be a starter,”” Guilmet said.

    After giving up five earned runs and eight hits in five innings and earning a loss on Friday, junior pitcher Mark Melancon (1-1, 3.55) will return to the bullpen and be used as the team’s closer.

    “”Mark Melancon is such a dynamic young man that he would feel comfortable doing anything,”” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “”He would feel comfortable playing first base, shortstop, Friday night (starter), closer, middle (relief) guy. He understands the importance of doing what’s needed for the good of the program, probably as good as anybody I’ve coached in a long, long time.””

    Changes have been made to the outfield as well. Lopez said he might start senior outfielder Derek Decater in center field instead of freshman T.J. Steele, while junior outfielder Bill Rhinehart could start in left field.

    “”No one has the starting spot until you earn it,”” said Rhinehart, who started 19 games last season, mostly as a designated hitter. “”I just keep working hard and got my chance and produced. If you keep working hard, good things will happen.””

    Rhinehart collected three RBIs, three hits and scored a run in Arizona’s 19-16 win over the Lobos on Sunday.

    Lopez said that prior to the Pacific 10 Conference season, he tries to give the upperclassmen a chance to play.

    Although Arizona has struggled a bit in the early season with pitching and defense, Lopez said there are still some positive things to take from the Wildcats’ struggles.

    “”I’m real comfortable with the way we’re hitting,”” he said. “”For goodness sakes, we’re putting up some (more) runs than I really thought we would early in the season.””

    As a team, the Wildcats are hitting .312 and averaging 7.4 runs per game.

    “”We had an identity the last couple of years, and I’m very confident that this team will grab an identity here in the weeks to come,”” Lopez said. “”It’s the process of getting some cohesiveness and getting an identity that is sometimes painful.””

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