The Arizona Wildcats are feeling a lot better about themselves after sweeping USC, but the biggest statement was made by Oregon State, the leaders of the Pac.
Posts Tagged ‘Jett Bandy’
The BatCats take on North Dakota State at 6 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon on Sunday.
At first glance this looks like a “year away” team. Arizona returns six hitters who started at least 50 games last year but four of them are sophomores. Two of the three opening-weekend starting pitchers are second-year players, as are most of the arms in the bullpen.
So far this academic year we’ve seen Mike Stoops and the Arizona football team end a seven-game losing streak to USC, and Sean Miller and UA basketball steal a game from USC thanks to a foul and three free throws with two-tenths of a second left.
USC got a little bit of revenge on the baseball field.
As feared Arizona did not respond well to another road trip and as a result the last-place Trojans won their first Pac-10 series of the year.
It was the same problem as against UCLA. The Cat bats have stopped hitting. The team’s bread-and-butter has gone stale. Here’s a look at how the top four hitters in the UA lineup have fared the last few weeks:
|Games||Rickard||Valenzuela||Bandy||Selsky||4/9 – 4/18||7||.241||.448||.360||.429||4/19 – 5/2||7||.179||.207||.192||.231|
It’s not a surprise the team won six of the first group of seven games but only three of the last seven.
Joey Rickard’s slump actually extends back another weekend when he went 1-for-11 at Cal, bringing his slide to 13-for-68 (.191) in his last 17 games. It’s really hard when the guy who comes up more than anyone isn’t getting on base.
What can you do about it? There are three options: 1) Do nothing and hope things turn around, 2) Play the same guys but juggle the lineup, or 3) See what you’ve got on the bench.
Option 3 may be what’s in store as freshman Cole Frenzel got three starts and picked up five hits over the weekend. You also saw Andy Lopez bringing in pinch-hitters for Rickard and Valenzuela as the Cats tried to come from behind on Sunday, and the moves paid off as Josh Garcia had the huge hit to tie the game in the 8th.
Another interesting development has been the rollercoaster that is Bryce “The Thrilla” Bandilla’s season. He began the season as the designated closer but blew his first save opportunity. He had a couple good middle relief outings and got moved into the starting rotation. He had one good start mixed in with five bad ones and got moved back out of the rotation. Now he’s an ironman reliever, having appeared in seven of the UA’s last eight games, picking up two wins with three times as many strikeouts as walks.
Here’s how Bandilla the starter compares with Bandilla of the bullpen:
I think it’s safe to say he’s going to stay put.
Just like last week you have the give the team credit for coming back to win the third game after losing the series by Saturday. There’s a big difference – in the standings as well as in perception – between losing two out of three and getting swept. Ask UCLA and Stanford how hard it can be to avoid a third straight loss.
But credit only gets you so far before you have to start making payments with actual wins. How much did losing this series hurt? Entering this week the Cats had a top-15 RPI and were projected as a 2-seed, the equivalent of a 5-to-8-seed in basketball.
Now Arizona will take a tumble in the rankings and RPI and the team will slide closer to the bubble. It means there’s pressure to sweep the Cal State Bakersfield series. It means the ASU game on Tuesday is no longer a nothing-to-lose affair.
Dropping a pair in L.A. was definitely a step back, but an opportunity for instant redemption awaits. The best way to make up for losing to the worst team in the conference is by beating the undisputed best team in the conference.
Especially when you’ve already beaten them once.
This Week In The Pac-10, Apr. 16: Arizona Wildcats Baseball returns home for start of the stretch runThursday, April 15th, 2010
Just how open is this conference race?
ASU’s stumble raised the eyebrows and hopes of a number of teams in the rest of the league. With Cal staying sweep-happy do we now have a four-team race in the Pac-10? Or are the Bears and Beavers just fooling themselves while we wait for the mammoth ASU/UCLA showdown in two weeks?
And what about a young Arizona team returning to the stadium where it holds a 20-5 record?
Oregon (21-11 / 4-5) at UCLA (26-3 / 4-2)
The Bruins’ two wins at OSU last week earned UCLA a #1 ranking in a couple of polls. Oregon’s two wins at Stanford earned the Ducks their first Pac-10 series victory since their baseball resurrection.
Stanford (15-13 / 4-5) at OSU (20-8 / 3-3)
If the Cardinal wants to be included among the good half of the Pac-10 they need to make a statement this weekend. If the Beavers want to maintain contact with the front runners they can’t afford to lose another series at home.
USC (15-17 / 2-7) at ASU (28-3 / 6-3)
The Sun Devils have already clinched a winning overall record. There’s no way they lose at home to the last-place Trojans…right?
Washington (18-13 / 3-3) at Cal (20-10 / 6-3)
As we disused last time Cal needs to bank more wins this weekend because it looks like a schedule recession is coming.
WSU (19-11 / 3-3) at ARIZONA (23-9)
The Cats are feeling a lot better about themselves after a three-out-of-four road trip. The Cougars are downright giddy after taking a series from ASU for the first time ever, ever, ever.
The stretch drive starts right now for the Wildcats. Of the next 20 games the only ones away from home are a three-game set at struggling USC and two single-game non-conference tilts at ASU.
After righting the ship at Washington and Gonzaga the UA has a very real shot at getting into the NCAA tournament, but to get there the Cats can’t waste winnable home games. You also don’t want to lose games to fellow bubble teams and WSU would certainly qualify. In fact, every Pac team except USC is still holding out hope it can win enough games to earn an invite to the Big Baseball Dance.
Last weekend Kurt Heyer showed no ill effects from the head shot at Cal. Kyle Simon pitched the game of his life on Sunday. The middle-of-the-lineup trio of Jett Bandy, Steve Selsky and Robert Refsnyder are all hitting .400 with an OPS of 1.000 or better. Arizona’s best players look primed to lead the team on another hot streak.
But then you go back to the freshman thing. Did the young Cats get out all the jitters in Berkeley? Or is there a wall around the corner?
No one ever said growing up in the Pac-10 was easy.
It turns out playing all your games at home is a good way to pick up a bunch of wins.
The Arizona Wildcats baseball team extended its winning streak to eight with a pair of midweek thrashings of Wichita State. The true shocker was Wednesday when the Cats blasted the previously-ranked Shockers to the tune of 19-0. Any time you can give a team its worst shutout loss in three decades you’ve had a pretty good day.
I’m not sure which number is more impressive. Three touchdowns’ worth of runs (we need a new kicker) are hard to ignore but midweek shutouts are very rare. Heck, any shutout in college baseball is cause for celebration. Kyle Simon and company did a great job.
In last weekend’s sweep of Northern Colorado the middle game was close (a 7-6 UA victory) but the bookends were Wildcat routs.
My one complaint is concerning Friday starting pitcher Kurt Heyer. I’m certainly not talking about his performance as Heyer only gave up one run and one walk while striking out 10. My issue is with the length of his performance. Why leave him out there for the full nine innings with an 8-run cushion? After watching Preston Guilmet burn out after his incredible sophomore season I’m always going to be nervous when I see a guy throwing 123 pitches.
And to top it off Heyer threw the 9th in Tuesday’s game. Was the bullpen mound broken? I know Andy Lopez has been doing this a long time but the UA went 18 years in between Pac-10 Pitchers of the Year so if Heyer has that kind of potential we need to treat his right arm like it’s encrusted with jewels.
When it comes to the offense you won’t hear me saying anything negative about anybody. Remember when it was exciting that we had five players hitting above .350? There are now five above .380 with three guys looking down on .430. The Jett is soaring with a .493 average and a Ruthian 1.373 OPS.
Even the bottom part of the order is coming around. Bryce Ortega’s average is still only .262 but thanks to a team-leading 12 walks he’s got his on-base percentage up over .400. He’s also playing good defense (no errors) and he’s tied for the team lead with 10 stolen bases (without being caught). I fully expect Bryce to be back on the north side of .300 soon.
(Oh wait, I do have one last complaint. Can we ship the Ivan Brothers back to Norway? The commercial was almost mildly amusing the first time I saw it while watching March Madness On Demand but do we have to get hit over the head with a horned helmet after every break? I’d even settle for more of those “Most of us are going pro in something other than sports” ads.)
From an RPI standpoint the Arizona baseball team isn’t getting a lot of help as both Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton have losing records, and Wichita State lost two of three to Long Beach. But the Pac-10 is strong once again with UCLA, Stanford, OSU, ASU and WSU all in the RPI top 15, so our guys will have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves against tough competition.
That competition is right around the corner as we enter the final weekend before the start of conference play. Sacramento State is on deck and the Hornets sport a 6-8 record after beating Pacific on Tuesday and losing two of three to UC Irvine. Sac State only gave up 14 total runs in those four games so it’ll be interesting to see how their pitchers fare against the red hot BatCats.
To contrast that the New Mexico Lobos will be bringing their big bats to the Old Pueblo on Tuesday and Wednesday. UNM is averaging 12 runs per game over their last seven contests and they already have series wins over Texas and USC.
Even a Viking would be impressed.