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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Baseball drops series at UCLA

The struggling No. 20 Arizona baseball team entered its weekend series with No. 23 UCLA hoping to build off of its series victory over No. 16 California a week ago.

But after winning the series opener, 5-4, behind Joey Rickard’s three-run home run in the fifth inning, the Wildcats (23-13, 5-7 Pacific 10 Conference) dropped their next two games to drop the series.

“”You don’t get any points for being close. We coughed up a chance to take two out of three in a series”” said head coach Andy Lopez. “”We need a couple guys to step up in the middle part of the bullpen, and we’ve got to play a little better defense. If we can get those two things together, we’re going to be OK.””

Kurt Heyer went 7.1 innings, allowing four runs and striking out six to get the win on Friday. Matt Chaffee pitched the final 1.2 innings, allowing only one Bruin to reach base, earning his fourth save since taking the closer role from Bryce Bandilla.

Arizona was baffled by UCLA (19-12, 9-3) hurler Trevor Bauer in Saturday’s 4-0 loss in which the Wildcats mustered only four hits. Bauer struck out 13 and allowed only one walk while finishing his second consecutive complete game and climbing to the top of UCLA’s all-time wins list with his 28th victory.

“”(Bauer) cut us up pretty good,”” Lopez said. “”He has a big-league curveball, and he can throw it in any count. He just does a marvelous job.””

Arizona led 5-3 after the sixth inning of Sunday’s 8-5 loss, but UCLA plated five runs while blanking the Wildcats in the final two innings to claim the series victory.

Sunday starter Tyler Hale bounced back from a couple of rough outings, going 5.2 innings while allowing three runs — two earned — in a no-decision.

Chaffee, who began to emerge as the most reliable option out of the bullpen, suffered the loss after giving up three runs and recording only one out. The left-hander walked two and hit a UCLA batter to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth, and then Bruin center fielder Beau Amaral — who tied the game with a two-run home run an inning earlier — cleared the bases with a double.

“”We have the ability to do it, but we’re stubbing our toes when we’ve had opportunities,”” Lopez said. “”We have a few guys who are just not getting it done in terms of middle relief and protecting a lead.””

Arizona has now dropped three of its last four games and six of its last 10, but Lopez isn’t panicking — at least not yet.

“”I’ve got to do a better job of coaching those areas,”” Lopez said. “”Luckily, we still have some time to figure it out.””

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