Citizen Staff Writer
University of Arizona pitcher Kyle Simon is proving that “on-the-job training” can pay off.
The freshman recorded his first win as a starter during a 9-5 victory over Loyola Marymount on Sunday night at Sancet Stadium.
“If you would have talked to me on January 15th, I would have said we’re probably going to redshirt this guy and let him find his way in college baseball,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “(Now) it’s on-the-job training for him.”
Simon is finding his way despite his 3-5 overall record. The Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School graduate pitched six solid innings against Loyola, allowing three runs and nine hits.
The Wildcats (24-23), who beat Loyola 12-2 on Saturday, will try for a series sweep at 6 p.m. Monday at Sancet Stadium.
Simon kept the Lions (29-23) off-balance with a combination of fastballs and change-ups, plus a slider that he has been working on in bullpen sessions.
“The slider really came through,” UA catcher Daniel Butler said. “Coaches will give him something to work on and he actually would do just that where other guys wouldn’t. You can see he has made the adjustment and is taking things to heart. He’s doing it.”
Simon picked up Arizona’s first win of the season Feb. 20 in relief, a 5-3 victory over Sacramento State. He’s worked his way into the starting rotation, solidifying himself as the No. 2 starter.
He had a career-high six strikeouts against Loyola Marymount, including striking out side in the fifth inning.
So much for redshirting.
“You have to make yourself here. You have to impress somebody every day,” said Simon, who was 15-4 in high school with an earned-run average of about 2.00.
“I have worked on doing my job and kind of achieved that,” Simon said.
Simon started out shaky Sunday. UA trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third. It could have been worse but the Wildcats turned double plays in the first and third innings.
But no one could touch his pitches when he struck out the side in the fifth.
By then Arizona scored enough to give the freshman the win.
A bloop double by Bryce Ortega in the eighth sealed the victory, scoring Bobby Coyle and Hunter Pace to take a 9-4 lead.
Arizona’s Brad Glenn tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the third on a run-scoring single.
His line drive through the left side of the infield followed back-to-back RBI doubles from Jett Bandy and Dillon Baird.
The Wildcats took a 5-3 lead in the fourth on a groundout RBI by Kyle Stiner and a Pace double to bring in Coyle.
“The way we have been swinging it I don’t think we were nervous to come back,” Baird said.
“We have been putting up runs like crazy. We were not panicking at all.”
It helped that Simon settled down.
UP NEXT FOR UA
Monday: vs. Loyola Marymount, 6 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Washington, 7 p.m.
Sunday: vs. Washington, 6 p.m.
May 18: vs. Washington, noon
All games at Sancet Stadium, 1290 AM