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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats have potential to keep up current offensive pace

Alex McIntyre

Arizona baseball infielder J.J. Matijevic (24) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a run during Arizona’s 17-6 win against ASU at Hi Corbett Field on Apr. 28, 2015.

While Arizona Baseball does not rely on power to fuel their offense, a steady dose of contact hitting and base running keeps the Wildcat offense humming.

“The offense looks outstanding, the gaps are so big here and we have great team speed 1-9,” said shortstop Louis Boyd. “Basically everyone in the lineup and even those not starting can drive balls to the wall and we will circle the bases all game.”

Despite starting the season on Thursday, Arizona’s offense appeared to be in midseason form, cracking double digits in two of its first four games. Only Jared Oliva, J.J. Matijevic and Alfonso Rivas III homered for the Wildcats last season, but that will not slow down Arizona’s attack. With them returning, along with Louis Boyd and Cesar Salazar still in the mix, the returners will make sure Arizona’s offense doesn’t skip a beat.

“We had a really good squad last year, obviously, but depth-wise I think this year we are at another level,” Oliva said. “If someone happens to go down, hopefully not, but we can plug someone else in and we are not missing a beat.”

Sprinkle in freshmen bats Nicholas Quintana, Shane Martinez, Matt Frazier and Cameron Cannon and the lineup has depth from top to bottom.

“Quintana, Frazier, Cannon, Stevenson—I can go on and on,” Oliva said. “We have a lot of guys that will contribute and … fit in.”

This presents a problem for Arizona head coach Jay Johnson, who has to mix and match his loaded lineup every weekend.

“Salazar is one of the best catchers in college baseball and he did not play because Voss is also one of the best,” Johnson said. “Alfonso did not start opening night and he played very well the last two games.”

Arizona is batting .377 on the season with 17 doubles, four triples and three home runs. While it’s unlikely Arizona maintains their clip of 12.25 runs a game, the Wildcats have a great shot at topping last year’s average of 5.76 runs a game.

While Arizona relies on contact and baserunning to get it done offensively, the Wildcats do know they can rely on Matijevic if they need a big hit.

“Our power guy is [Matijevic] and he has power that is off-the-charts,” Oliva said. “It might not necessarily show up in this park too much, but if he moved to an average-size park it would be off-the-charts.”

In the Eastern Kentucky University series, Matijevic batted .474 with nine RBIs and four doubles, including a key double that started the Wildcats ninth inning rally to defeat EKU on Monday.

“Since the fall he has been lights-out hitting and we all know about his capabilities,” Salazar said. “He carried us this weekend, and I am sure he is going to do it the rest of the season.”

Arizona also got key contributions from other players in their four games against EKU. Mitchell Morimoto had seven runs and seven hits, Rivas had eight RBIs and Quintana added six RBIs as well.

Saturday, the Wildcats offense was on full display against Eastern Kentucky. Despite falling behind 9-0, Arizona was able to come back and win 16-13 due to 17 hits by the Wildcats. No Wildcat hit a home run, but Arizona used six doubles and a triple from Louis Boyd to jumpstart the offense.

On Sunday, the Wildcats bested their performance from Saturday by pouring in 18 runs against EKU. Matijevic and Morimoto hit home runs and 10 different Wildcats registered a hit.

“There is not really bench players here because everyone is up there,” Rivas said. “I think we have a very mature lineup, and I feel really good about our offense.”

The Wildcats face the McNeese State Cowboys this weekend in a four-game series beginning on Thursday night. The Cowboys are only surrendering three runs a game, so the offense will face their first test of the season.

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