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The Daily Wildcat

Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pitching heating up for baseball at right time

    UA pitcher Eric Berger hurls one toward the plate in the Wildcats 16-6 win over Nevada-Las Vegas on March 5 at Sancet Stadium. The Arizona pitching staff struggled early this season but has strung together 27 consecutive shutout innings heading into this weekends home series against No. 20 Cal-State Fullerton.
    UA pitcher Eric Berger hurls one toward the plate in the Wildcats’ 16-6 win over Nevada-Las Vegas on March 5 at Sancet Stadium. The Arizona pitching staff struggled early this season but has strung together 27 consecutive shutout innings heading into this weekend’s home series against No. 20 Cal-State Fullerton.

    No. 20 Cal State-Fullerton at No. 1 Arizona

    The No. 1 Arizona baseball team’s pitching staff combined to throw 27 shutout innings last weekend at the Whataburger College Class in Corpus Christi, Texas. At practice Wednesday, head coach Andy Lopez was asked to recall the last time one of his teams put together three shutout performances in a row.

    “”I’m really having a hard time remembering,”” Lopez said. “”It’s been a long time, maybe never.””

    Behind the arms of starters Preston Guilmet, David Coulon and Ryan Perry – all who went at least seven innings – the Arizona pitchers allowed only 11 hits while compiling 39 strikeouts with a mere five walks.

    The efforts from Guilmet and Coulon earned each player pitcher of the week honors from Collegiate Baseball and the Pacific 10 Conference, respectively.

    The strong performance from Arizona (10-1) comes just at the right time, with No. 20 Cal State-Fullerton (8-4) coming into town tonight for a weekend set, while conference rivals No. 2 Arizona State (12-0) and Southern California (8-5) wait on deck.

    “”The confidence level (of the pitching staff) is high right now,”” said catcher Dwight Childs. “”They’re locating their pitches, making pitches they need to with two strikes and they’re getting ground ball outs. They’re definitely finding their groove, so to speak.””

    Things did not go quite as smoothly on the mound through the first two weekends. Nearly every pitcher on the staff had at least one rough outing, the ace Guilmet being the first.

    Since the Sacramento State series Arizona’s pitching has tightened up. Through the first six games the Wildcats allowed an average of six runs per game. In its last five outings however, that average dropped to just over two.

    “”The hitters have picked us up a couple games so far,”” said reliever Eric Berger. “”But it’s still early in the year and there will come times when we need to pick the hitters up. It’s a team thing and we have each other’s backs for sure.””

    Due to some of the ups and downs the pitching staff has gone through thus far, Lopez has been forced to move some potential starters into relief roles.

    At the start of the season, Berger was slated as the midweek starter. The left-hander has yet to make an appearance in a starting role, but he has compiled an earned run average of 3.00 through six innings of relief work.

    Cal State-Fullerton is riding a six-game winning streak coming into tonight while the undefeated Sun Devils wait on deck next Tuesday in Tempe.

    “”I’m sure (playing tough opponents) gets the guys excited,”” Lopez said. “”But the thing we stress is to forget about who the team is and to just play the game soundly. If you can do that, then the other team is really a secondary issue.””

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