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Defense turning lots of double plays

The Arizona Wildcats have not had a smooth transition at the start of the baseball season.

But the Wildcats have become masters of turning double plays.

The Wildcats have turned 33 double plays in 18 games, after having only 47 all of last season.

“The double-play ball has definitely gone our way,” starting pitcher Bryce Bandilla said.

“It is a pitcher’s best friend when you throw a ground ball and the defense takes care of business.”

The Wildcats hope they can turn a few more when they start a three-game series at Arizona State at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

ASU’s offense isn’t as potent as in the past, but the Sun Devils are 14-3 with a .308 batting average.

Arizona, 11-7, is turning all the double plays despite different defensive personnel in almost every game.

Outfielder Bobby Coyle is the only player to get in every game. UA has had to scramble its lineup because of injuries, suspensions and academic issues.

“It has probably been the toughest transition we have had since we got here,” said coach Andy Lopez, who joined Arizona in 2002.

Brad Glenn, for example, started at four different positions in a four-day span. Fourteen different position players have started a game.

“It’s not been too bad. It just comes down to who is swinging the bat well and getting the job done for us,” Glenn said.

Arizona State had a relatively smooth start, winning eight straight to open the season.

The Sun Devils, known as a power-hitting team the past few years, have an excellent pitching staff in 2009.

Mike Leake and Josh Spence have combined for seven wins and 69 strikeouts, so the Wildcats, who are averaging 8.5 runs and hitting .320, are going to be tested.

Keeping the ball on the ground has been stressed by Lopez after having a pitching staff recently that relied primarily on strikeouts.

Arizona’s 4.72 ERA could be much worse if not for delivering the ground ball outs. ASU has a 1.95 ERA.

“I told the guys the other day, I’m not unhappy with you,” Lopez said.



Arizona is on pace to set a school record for fielding double plays:

Year Amount

1979 81

1993 78

1989 74

1987 69

1981 67

1977 67

Notable: The highest in the last 11 seasons is 60 double plays.

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