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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats need help to stay in Pac-10 race

    Though a long-shot to win the conference, Oregon State holds the key to the Pacific 10 Conference baseball championship.

    The Beavers, who have won the conference the last two years running, are six games behind first-place ASU. But after a three-game set with the Sun Devils this weekend, OSU hosts second-place UCLA to finish the season.

    As a result, third-place Arizona (36-13, 11-7 Pac-10), currently three games back of ASU, has quietly become Beaver baseball fans.

    “”Would I like some help?”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”Yeah, I’d like a lot of help.””

    But in order for the No. 14 Wildcats to catch No. 8 ASU (37-12, 14-4), who they play May 23-25 in Tempe, they must first take care of business against fourth-place Washington (27-23, 9-9) this weekend.

    “”We’ve got to worry about getting our victories,”” said UA second baseman Colt Sedbrook. “”If (the Beavers) happen to get those wins that they need to get to help us out, then we’ll take that. We’ll definitely take that.””

    Essentially, the race boils down to this: The Wildcats must win every game that the Sun Devils do, but more importantly, win three games that the Sun Devils don’t – and they have to hope that UCLA (28-22, 12-6) doesn’t pass ASU in that same span.

    That means that in order for Arizona to have a shot at a share of the Pac-10 title, it’s first since 1992, ASU must lose at least three of its final six games.

    A number of scenarios present themselves:

    • Should both ASU and Arizona sweep this weekend, the Wildcats sweep in Tempe, and UCLA finish 5-1 in its final six, all three teams share the title.

  • If ASU wins at least wins at least four of its final six, it clinches the title.
  • Arizona can win the title outright if it finishes 6-0, ASU finishes 2-4, and the Bruins don’t pass the Sun Devils by losing at least two games.
  • Now, every game from here on out presents itself as a must-win to get a sniff of the Pac-10 title.

    “”We’ve got two weekends left in conference,”” Lopez said he told the team before practice Wednesday, “”and you have a legitimate chance to have the last weekend have the conference championship on the line. But you have to take care of this weekend.””

    To do that, the Wildcats have got to find their bats. Arizona hasn’t scored more than five runs in a Pac-10 game in more than a month, a stretch that spans 10 games.

    “”It disappeared, the entire offense,”” Lopez said. “”The same team that was winning 16 in a row (March 11-April 14) and 15-2, 9-1 against Stanford and Oregon State and (California) is now having a hard time scoring, period.””

    In those same 10 games, Arizona pitchers have a 4.34 ERA. Last weekend against USC, the pitching staff gave up just eight earned runs – yet the Wildcats lost two-of-three.

    “”It disappeared, the entire offense. The same team that was winning 16 in a row and 15-2, 9-1 against Stanford and Oregon State and Cal is now having a hard time scoring, period.””
    – UA head coach Andy Lopez

    “”Our bats were hot during that 16-game winning streak, and it wouldn’t be a problem to score six or seven runs a game,”” Sedbrook said. “”And today, it’s a struggle for us to come out and score four runs a game.

    “”Its frustrating, especially when you’ve got the pitchers taking us and pretty much just saying ‘Jump on our back, we’ll carry the load.’ There needs to be a change.””

    After the Wildcats dropped the rubber match of their three-game set with USC, Lopez ripped into the team for an hour and 45 minutes. He then closed practice Tuesday, where he said he cut practice into two sessions: one for offense and one for “”makeup.””

    “”You can’t control getting hits, but you can control the path of the bat, the quickness of your hands, the position of your head,”” Lopez said, “”and we haven’t done a very good job of that the last few weeks.””

    Lopez said he also talked about base running, something that cost Arizona dearly against USC Monday when, down 4-2, left fielder Bill Rhinehart was picked off of second base, killing a rally in the eighth inning.

    “”The makeup part,”” Lopez said of his message during practice, “”was ‘Quit moping around, quit feeling sorry for yourself. Let’s go play.'””

    He also addressed the team’s intensity.

    “”These aren’t big games, but they’re games, and we’ve got to come out and we’ve got to compete,”” said Wildcat ace Preston Guilmet, who was named Thursday as one of ten semifinalists for the Roger Clemens Award, given each year to the nation’s top pitcher. “”If you come out flat-footed, you’re setting yourself up to get beat.””

    Extra bases
    Guilmet (10-1; 1.70 ERA) will throw Friday’s 7 p.m. first pitch opposite Washington righty Jason Erickson (4-1, 3.79). … UA lefty David Coulon is scheduled to start Saturday in place of Brad Mills, Arizona’s usual second starter who’s out with a strained back for the second consecutive week.

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