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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA’s Hale looking to eliminate nerves in second start of season

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The No. 5 Arizona baseball team begins a two-game series tonight against New Mexico State, marking the last non-conference series before the heart of Pac-12 play begins.

For starter Tyler Hale, the game also represents a chance to move on from the last time he started on the mound.

“I don’t why but I had a lot of jitters,” Hale said about his only other start this season against Utah Valley. “I was a little nervous for some reason. I’ve started plenty (before), so I don’t know why I did that.”

And those nerves were reflected in the box score — Hale lasted only 2.1 innings before being replaced by freshman Lucas Long.

Hale gave up four earned runs and seven hits in his brief stint on the mound, but the Wildcats eventually did rally back to salvage the game and help Hale avoid the loss.

But after the start, Hale said he had a change of heart and re-examined his entire approach to the game.

“I broke down baseball and decided where it is in my life,” Hale said. “To be honest, I put too much thought into pitching and lately I’ve broken it down … It’s just a game and I need to act like that when I’m on the mound.”

And so far the new philosophy has seemed to work. Hale hasn’t allowed a run in his last two appearances, which included three innings of relief against then-No. 8 Rice.

Hale’s recent play has lowered his ERA to 5.14, and despite the early season struggles, his teammates still have faith in him.

“I have the utmost confidence in (Hale), he has great stuff,” junior Alex Mejia said. “That guy has a power fastball and he has a great curveball. And if he just commands it well, he’s pretty unhittable.”

Hale’s change wasn’t been purely psychological though — Hale said he has modeled his improved game after a very unlikely source.

“I actually studied how (freshman Mathew Troupe) was pitching,” said Hale, a junior.

And while it may be a little unorthodox for an underclassman to study the performance of a freshman, there is sound reasoning behind the decision.

Troupe has been one of the most consistent relievers for the Wildcats, with a 3.38 ERA and three saves.

But what really stood out to Hale wasn’t just the results, but also the demeanor in which Troupe achieved them.

“I watched his appearance on the mound, and he was really good, really slow,” Hale said. “I like his tempo, and I kind of adopted that and took it to my performance and it’s working.”

Hale will have another opportunity tonight to show that he can be a reliable spot starter for the Wildcats, but despite the pressure of the situation, Hale said he is going to be a lot more confident this time around.

“This time out, I just plan on keeping it simple, just pitch how I know how to pitch, and I should be fine,” Hale said.

Mejias-Brean named Pac-12 Player of the Week

Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 at the plate and recording eight RBIs for the Wildcats over spring break.

“The Pac-12 Player of the Week says the least (about him),” Mejia said.

Mejias-Brean is batting .354 on the season with a team-high 23 RBIs.

“Mejias-Brean is on fire, so hopefully that keeps going,” Mejia said.

But, according to Mejia, the Arizona third baseman’s effectiveness isn’t limited to the plate — he has been playing great defense lately as well.

“That guy is magnificent at third base,” Mejia said. “I don’t have to worry about anything (defensively) when it’s hit to the right side (of the infield). Seth is going to be there.”

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