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Arizona baseball: Andy Lopez’s pitching rotation is going to get younger

Andy Lopez will get a longer look at a couple of freshman pitchers. Photo by Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com

Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez has only one more weekend to sort out his rotation before Pac-12 play begins, and it’s time to further see what his young arms can do.

Freshman left-hander Cody Moffett will take over the role as Sunday starter when the Wildcats play host to a three-game series against Columbia this weekend. Moffett replaces fourth-year junior Stephen Manthei, who has posted a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.

“I’m always pulling for the older guys, but we’re getting closer to the Pac-12 season,” Lopez said after a 5-2 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday (see video from KOLD-TV below).

“Right now, those older guys are going to have to sit and watch those younger guys perform.”

A couple of those older guys — Manthei and senior Nick Cunningham — contributed to the Red Raiders’ five-run seventh inning at Hi Corbett Field. They each faced three batters in the inning, managing to get only one out.

Freshman Tyger Talley went into the sixth inning with a no-hitter but left the game after facing one batter in the sixth. He allowed two hits, striking out three and walking two.

“He threw strikes, and he threw strikes with three pitches, and he hit his spots,” Lopez said. “He had great command, my goodness.”

Moffett last pitched Sunday, when he threw four hitless innings against San Francisco after Manthei was lifted after facing only four hitters. Lopez said he will line up Sunday as Moffett, followed by sophomore Tyler Crawford (who pitched eight strong innings in a win over Texas Tech on Tuesday) and Talley.

Moffett, from Gilbert Highland High School, has a 1.59 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. Talley, from Scottsdale Chaparral, has a 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings.

Each has surpassed Manthei, Cunningham and senior Tyler Hale for now.

“The hard part is you see a couple of older guys not really performing, but the upside is you’re seeing Tyger Talley and Cody Moffett performing exceptionally well,” Lopez said. “I mean, those two guys have pitched fantastic the last two weeks.”

Arizona is set on Fridays with junior Konner Wade and on Saturdays with junior James Farris. Sophomore Mat Troupe has been great as the closer (four hits, 15 strikeouts in 8 2/3 scoreless innings) and 6-9 senior lefty Augey Bill has dominated the late innings, too.

The 11-4 Cats play a two-game mid-week set against Butler next week before starting conference play at home against Oregon State on March 15.

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