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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Baseball feels safe at home

    After traveling 4,270 miles on a 14-day voyage, the Arizona baseball team concluded its “”Tour de Confidence”” marathon road trip in San Diego on Wednesday with a familiar sense of accomplishment.

    The three-city tour marked a crucial midway point in the college baseball season, and Arizona found itself free-falling from the nation’s top team to an unranked position.

    Slumping bats and errors plagued a highly talented team desperate for wins recently, but with a sweep of San Diego State, the momentum has shifted yet again, back to early-season form.

    And tonight against Indiana State (10-17) at 7, the Wildcats (17-11) begin part deux of a roller-coaster season – the first 28 games featured season-high streaks of both wins (12) and losses (six).

    “”It’s going to be real good to be back home,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez, who jokingly wondered what Tucson looked like after spending over one week away from campus.

    The midway point of the season will also shift Arizona from lengthy road trips to a comforting home stretch. With only three road series remaining, Arizona plays at Sancet Stadium in 19 of its final 27 games.

    Undoubtedly, home field advantage works in Arizona’s favor, with an 8-3 record and .339 team batting average in Tucson, as oppose to its 4-6 road record.

    While 128 hits and 19 home runs gets the “”W”” at home offensively, Arizona pitching posts a 5.22 team ERA in Tucson, substantially higher than its away 3.94 ERA.

    UA ace Preston Guilmet takes the mound tonight, having pitched at least seven innings in all but his first Feb. 22 start – his only loss of the season.

    Since Guilmet’s first win, Arizona spent three consecutive weeks as Baseball America’s No.1-ranked team. In March 17’s poll, then-undefeated ASU eclipsed the No. 1 spot, bumping Arizona down to No. 2. Since that point, Arizona fell in consecutive weeks from No. 6 to No. 18, and is now unranked for the first time all season.

    In the sport of college baseball, though, slumps affect the majority of teams, Lopez said, with a majority of schools hitting the 10-win plateau as well. In the Baseball America’s current Top 25, 10 teams have more than 10 losses.

    “”There’s only (a few) clubs that don’t have more than 9-10 losses – everybody else has pretty much gone through a rough period,”” Lopez said. “”It’s just a very challenging schedule I think.””

    Indiana State has only played five home games this season, with 25 games on the road. The Sycamores enter Tucson in the midst of a 10-game road swing.

    Extra innings

    Sunday’s series finale marks Arizona’s first annual “”Bark in the Park”” – the one game Sancet Stadium will allow dogs into the ballpark. Dogs will receive free treats and a prize will be awarded to “”Best Dressed Dog.””

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