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Young players helping Cats over hump

Citizen Staff Writer



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 end a three-game sweep 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.

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