Slight Sweep: Pitching leads Arizona Baseball to three close winsby Scott Terrell on Mar. 07, 2011, under Sports
The Arizona BatCats played a surprisingly close series against the Utah Valley Wolverines. Last year the Wildcats beat UVU by a combined score of 34-9 but this time around all three games were within one run in the 7th inning.
It’s much better to win three surprisingly close games than to surprisingly lose.
Coach Andy Lopez doesn’t mind the close games. “It’s good,” he said. “It’s going to force these young guys to play the game properly. Learn to bunt, learn to hit-and-run.”
The UA didn’t hit any home runs in the series.
Continuing the pitching-and-defense theme that Lopez has preached since the start of the season, an interesting development has been junior Kyle Simon closing the gap on sophomore Kurt Heyer as the team’s ace. When comparing weekend starts Heyer has the slight ERA edge (1.42 to 1.57) but that may not be the most important stat.
“The whole thing for Friday night is you want a guy who’s going to set the tempo for the whole weekend,” said Lopez. “You need seven innings. You don’t want to go to your pen in the 4th and 5th innings.”
Heyer has pitched 19 innings in his three weekend starts while Simon has logged a total of 23. Those extra four outs a game could be the difference. “(Simon) may make a push before Pac-10 play for Friday night,” Lopez said.
It’s a good problem to have. The efforts of Simon and #3 starter Tyler Hale are the biggest causes for Arizona optimism. Hale has gotten into the 7th in each of his three starts with a 1.83 ERA.
You’re not always going to win the battle of aces on Friday nights, but if your #2 and #3 pitchers are better than their 2nd and 3rd guys you’re going to win a lot of series.
The Wildcats travel to UNLV for games this Tuesday and Wednesday before returning home for a three-game series against Northern Colorado starting Friday.
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