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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Baseball set for round two against ASU

Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez tries to keeps things simple.

He avoids looking at where his team is situated in national polls — No. 22 this week — because, he says, there are too many to choose from. And the same goes for Arizona’s opponents — he ignores their rankings as well.

So as the Wildcats (29-13, 9-9 Pacific-10 Conference) get ready to take on No. 2 ASU tonight in Tempe at 6:30, the Sun Devils’ high ranking will once again be put aside, and Arizona will try to regroup from consecutive series losses.

“”We just need to keep playing good baseball,”” Lopez said last week. “”Everyone knows it’s a coach’s cliché to want to keep the game simple, but we just want to keep the game simple right now.””

The Pac-10 slate is a difficult one this year, as evidenced by last-place USC surprisingly taking two of three from the Wildcats this past weekend.

While Arizona might be in need of a collective breath from the grind of the conference games, tonight it will have to get past a red-hot ASU team looking to avenge its loss to the Wildcats two weeks ago.

The Sun Devils have won seven of eight games since losing to Arizona, including a series sweep over then-No. 5 UCLA in Los Angeles this past weekend.

Despite coming into tonight’s game having lost back-to-back series, Lopez has seen enough of his team’s effort in practice to know that Arizona will have a short memory and be ready to go tonight.

“”I like suiting up with these guys. That’s a joy for a coach when you have a team that likes to come out and practice,”” Lopez said of Arizona’s continued hard work.

“”A team that likes to practice really likes it at 7 (p.m.) when the lights come on in a big game,”” he added.

In Arizona’s last game against ASU, freshman Cory Bernard went down before the game with an injury, forcing redshirt junior Daniel Workman to make an emergency start.

Workman turned in a dominant performance to stifle one of the nation’s top offensive teams, and the Wildcats stunned then-No.1 ASU in front of its home crowd in a 4-2 win.

The talk before that game was about how all the freshmen would handle the hostile crowd at Packard Stadium and how they would react to the intensity of the rivalry with the Sun Devils.

Arizona passed the first test, and since then Lopez has made a lot of his team, no longer using its youth as an excuse.

The Wildcats are hampered with injured players, including sophomore catcher Jett Bandy, who is playing with a fractured toe, and the continued absence of junior second baseman Bryce Ortega with a stiff back.

Tonight will be a test of Arizona’s will, having to play through adversity coming off a tough weekend in Los Angeles. The Wildcats will try to prove the past two weekends were flukes.

“”I tell these guys if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this game, it’s really not fair, and boy it exposes character. It really reveals character,”” Lopez said.

Pac-10 Conference Standings

School        Overall Record    Conference

Arizona State        38-5                  14-4

California               26-15               11-7

Oregon                  30-14               10-8

Stanford                 21-17               10-8

Washington            24-19                8-7

Arizona                   29-13                9-9

UCLA                      30-10                7-8

Washington State   22-17                6-9

Oregon State          21-17                4-11

USC                        19-24                5-13


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