Playing close won’t be good enough if the University of Arizona baseball team can’t turn the season around.
That means critical mistakes must be eliminated, starting on Wednesday with No. 3 Arizona State playing the Wildcats in a nonleague 3 p.m. start at Sancet Stadium.
“Nearly every series since playing Arizona State we could have won two out of three if not for a blown save, an error or if we hadn’t dropped a couple of fly balls,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said.
The Wildcats haven’t been blown out often, but ASU did conclude a three-game sweep over UA on March 22 with a 23-9 victory.
The Sun Devils (31-9, 15-3) have a 10-game cushion over the ninth-place Wildcats (19-20, 5-13). Arizona would be much better off if not for losing 11 of its 20 games by three runs or less.
“There’s no mystery about it. You have to play consistently, and we have not done that,” Lopez said. “We have not done good enough to get over the hump.”
While ASU is getting the job done with veteran pitchers, with a Pac-10-leading staff with a 2.66 ERA, the Wildcats top the league with a .302 batting average. The hits are starting to come more with a lineup made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
UA’s equally young pitching staff is starting to show signs of progress as well, limiting Stanford to 11 runs in its series victory over the Cardinal last weekend.
“It has just taken us longer than I thought it would,” Lopez said. “Young guys are getting used to the speed of the game.”
They are starting to get up to speed, but they must make up a lot of ground.
No-hitter string ends
CLEARWATER, Fla. – It was just one hit, but still you would have expected some reaction from pitcher Patrick Schuster.
After all, he wasn’t used to giving up any at all.
The Mitchell High School ace was going for a fifth straight no-hitter and another piece of the Florida state record book Tuesday. But a screaming double over the right fielder’s head on an 0-1 count in the third inning put an end to that. Schuster walked around the mound, then got back on the rubber while a standing room-only crowd of more than 1,000 applauded his effort.
“I turned around and said, ‘Thank you. It’s done now and I don’t have to worry about it anymore,’ ” a dejected Schuster said after what turned out to be his final prep game. Mitchell was eliminated by Gaither High 9-4.
The lanky left-hander had put together a string of four no-hitters going into the district tournament game, and had gotten through the first two innings without giving up a hit. Then came the double by Gaither’s Drew Doty.
He worked five innings, allowing five runs – three earned – and three hits. He struck out five, walked five and hit three batters.
He captured the Florida record when he turned in No. 4 last week at his home field in New Port Richey, near Tampa. The national record for consecutive no-hitters by a high school pitcher is six.
“After warming up, my arm didn’t feel as good as it did the last three games or any time I threw well,” Schuster said.
The 18-year-old, with a 90 mph fastball, is ranked as the 79th best prospect in the country by Baseball America and has signed with the University of Florida.
The Associated Press
Flu closes Mexican football
MEXICO CITY – All nine Mexican first-division football games this weekend will be played behind closed doors, a move aimed at stemming the spread of swine flu.
Three games last weekend were played without fans – matches around the capital – but the Mexican Football Federation said on Tuesday it’s closing off all games with the outbreak continuing to spread.
“This decision was made . . . in full awareness of the health emergency confronting Mexico,” the federation said.
The nine games are: Tecos-Pumas, Cruz Azul-Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey-America, Pachuca-Jaguares, Chivas-Puebla, Morelia-Atlas, Necaxa-Atlante, Toluca-Tigres, Santos-San Luis.
The effort to contain the swine flu outbreak was hitting Mexico’s 18 first-division clubs the hardest. Matches draw 200,000 to 300,000 fans each weekend.
Mexico sports newspaper Record estimated clubs could lose about 24 million pesos (about $2 million) in ticket sales if all matches are closed.
The Associated Press
Pricey Yankee seats cheaper
NEW YORK – Turns out a few more fans might be able to buy those empty front-row seats at Yankee Stadium.
The New York Yankees slashed prices on more than 40 percent of their front-row seats by up to 50 percent Tuesday and announced many of those who bought tickets closest to the field for $325-$2,500 will be eligible for additional free seats.
Those initiatives could help pack previously unfilled areas that were an eyesore on television broadcasts at the $1.5 billion ballpark.
While most of the cheaper tickets in the second and third decks were sold for the opening six games, entire sections of cushioned blue seats with teak arm rests in the first nine rows in 25 sections went empty, areas that cost $500 and up. Many of the nonpremium seats between the bases, which cost $325 as part of season tickets and $375 individually, also went unfilled.
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who owns three $850 Legends Suite season tickets, was unhappy prices were cut only for those with front-row seats while others will be given additional tickets.
“If they’re offering only selective refunds, depend upon it: There are going to be lawsuits,” Olbermann said.
The Associated Press
Who is the only man to be on the field when Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record and when Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s hit record?
ANSWER: Steve Garvey played for the Dodgers when Aaron broke the homer record in 1974, then was with the Padres for Rose’s record-breaker in 1985.
ON THIS DATE
1901: His Eminence wins the Kentucky Derby by 1 1/2 lengths over Sannazarro in the only Derby ever raced in April.
1986: Boston’s Roger Clemens sets a major league record by striking out 20 Seattle batters.
2007: Phoenix guard Steve Nash has 23 assists, one shy of the NBA playoff record, in a 113-100 win over the Lakers.
Cats right to be angry
Re: Ex-Cats Nate Ness, Ronnie Palmer get NFL free-agent deals
• I bet these two guys wish they were chosen in the draft. Ness and Palmer have the right to be furious, not Mike Thomas or Eben Britton, who should be thanking their lucky stars they got drafted. JUST A FAN
• Ness and Palmer will do very well in the pros. I can see Nate working in as nickel back, and some safety. Ronnie can get in on special teams, and work into relief at inside backer. 3829