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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Baseball hits road to take on Bruins

    Baseball hits road to take on Bruins

    If Arizona head coach Andy Lopez was asked a question about the current state of a specific team in the Pacific 10 Conference, he likely would not know the answer.

    The same goes for many of his players.

    In reality, despite being on the verge of .500 and coming off a beat down at the hands of ASU last weekend, Arizona (11-10, 0-3 Pac-10) still has the fourth-best overall record in the conference.

    This weekend, the Wildcats will face the team with the second worst overall winning percentage: UCLA (8-13, 2-1). But these numbers are meaningless to Lopez and most of his team.

    “”I have no clue (about the other Pac-10 teams),”” Lopez said. “”The only thing I could tell you right now is about Arizona State because we just played them.

    “”I take care of this program and focus on getting this team to play good baseball,”” he added, “”and if we can do that we’ll be successful against any of those teams.””

    Lopez went on to say the opposing teams remain a mystery until the day before a game when he and his staff begin their preparation.

    One thing they will discover when scouting the Bruins is, despite a slow start – just two wins in their first 12 games – UCLA has come on strong of late with wins in six of its last nine contests.

    The Bruins’ bats have also come alive as they pounded USC last weekend 17-2 in what was the largest margin of victory in school history.

    “”We know this is Pac-10 play, and nothing is going to come easy for anyone,”” said catcher Daniel Butler. “”This is an important stretch because if you can’t play well in (Pac-10 play) then there won’t be any season after that. The Pac-10 season is really where we have to be solid all around.””

    Unfortunately for Arizona, it has been far from solid lately. As a team, Arizona finds itself second in the conference for most errors with 35. Three miscues in the final two games of the series against the Sun Devils hurt the Wildcats’ cause, in addition to other errors Lopez attributed to “”not playing the game soundly.””

    In the first two games of the ASU series, the Wildcats lost by three and four runs, respectively. After the series, Lopez said both games were essentially decided by capitalizing on Arizona’s mistakes and missed opportunities.

    With the rest of the Pac-10 season still to come, the Wildcats need to patch up the holes before things get worse.

    “”You can’t put yourself in too big of a hole in the Pac-10,”” Lopez said. “”I don’t think there’s a soft weekend in the Pac-10, so we need to go (to Los Angeles) and play good baseball starting (tonight).””

    Arizona will send righty hurler Preston Guilmet to the mound tonight in search of his third win of the season. In his last outing, the senior (2-2) gave a strong performance going 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts but was chased from the game after allowing a pair of earned runs.

    What ultimately spoiled Guilmet’s impressive outing was the performance of his counterpart – ASU pitcher Mike Leake ð- who threw a complete game while striking out 15 Wildcats.

    Arizona’s failure to put the ball in play went against Lopez’s philosophy of “”playing the game,”” which means to force the other team to make mistakes.

    The Sun Devil pitchers appeared to put the Wildcats’ hitters in a bit of a slump, but tonight Arizona has a chance to snap out of it and pick up a crucial conference win.

    “”The good news (about last week’s sweep) is that we know we’re not where we need to be,”” Butler said. “”(UCLA’s) in the Pac-10 so they’re gonna be tough. We’ll just have to come out swinging. If we play our game, we should be fine.””

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