The Arizona baseball team stumbled this week, dropping two straight games to the Wichita State Shockers, resulting in the team’s first series loss of the year.
WildcatAuthority.com takes a look back in what was a tough series for the Arizona Wildcats.
Tuesday 3/15: Wichita State 6 Arizona 5
W: Cale Elam (1-0) L: Bryce Bandilla (1-1)
Wednesday 3/16: Wichita State 8 Arizona 3
W: Charlie Lowell (3-2) L: Vincent Littleman (1-2)
Player of the Series: Wichita State’s Johnny Coy only got two hits in the series but they happened to be the two biggest hits of the series. He drove in two runs in the 8th inning to spark the Shockers’ four-run comeback bid. He then finished what he started three innings later in the 11th frame, bringing home the winning run with a single down the leftfield line. Coy almost single handedly beat the Wildcats in game one.
Rookie Watch: For the first time this year Johnny Field did not start a game in a series, as Steve Selsky made his long awaited season debut for the Wildcats Tuesday afternoon in right field. However, another freshman is slowly starting to find his niche on this team. Konner Wade turned in a solid 2.2 innings of relief work Tuesday, allowing zero runs on two hits.
All of a sudden Wade has the third lowest ERA on the team at 1.98. Ever since his first appearance against Rice, Wade has slowly gotten better and better. As crazy as it sounds, as a freshman he’s been one of the more consistent Wildcats out of the bullpen so far this year
1. Jett ready for takeoff?: He’s taken plenty of criticism this year for his struggles at the plate thus far, but this series he was one of the few Wildcats to step up and perform. It would even be fair to say that he was the offensive player of the series for Arizona, as he led the team in hits this series with four. Bandy was able to get the job done when no one else could, that’s what your best hitter is supposed to do.
2. Selsky is back: After missing the first 16 games because of a broken hand, Steve Selsky started both games in right field for the Wildcats. He didn’t have a fantastic offensive performance, but he didn’t aggravate his hand again and he collected his first hit during his last at bat of the series. Having his bat and leadership back in the lineup is huge for Arizona as it heads into Pac-10 play following this weekend’s series against San Francisco.
3. No Lack of Effort: There were a lot of things to be disappointed about in this series, but Arizona managed to battle back in game two after falling down by three runs early. The Wildcats finally tied the game at three runs a piece in the 6th inning after managing only two hits through the first five frames.
Wichita State’s pitching staff is one of the best in the nation, but the Wildcat offense managed to give the team a chance in both games despite Arizona’s own pitching struggles. There were quite a few hard hit balls in this series that were just hit at the wrong place for Arizona. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.
1. No Response: For the first time this year Arizona has lost back-to-back games. Before this series the Wildcats had always responded following a tough loss. After a series opening defeat to Long Beach State, Arizona came back and outscored the Dirtbags 16-2 during the next two games to eventually earn the series win. After losing the series finale to the Rice Owls, the Wildcats responded by sweeping Utah Valley the very next series. Same thing occurred after dropping the final game to UNLV, the Wildcats countered again by sweeping Northern Colorado. This series it didn’t happen; after losing a heartbreaker to the Shockers in game one, Arizona came out in game two and quite frankly played even worse.
2. The bullpen: This is beginning to sound a little repetitive, but this isn’t rocket science; it’s baseball. If you consistently give up a lot of runs, you’re probably going to lose the game. The Arizona bullpen alone gave up 10 runs on 12 hits and 11 walks in two games. Even for one of the better offenses in the nation, that’s just too much to handle, especially going against a club in Wichita State that has a team ERA of 2.31.
3. Too many mistakes: Both in the field and on the base paths, Arizona just didn’t play fundamental baseball. At least twice in game two the Wildcats destroyed potential rallies by trying to stretch singles into doubles. There is a fine line between bad base running and aggressive base running, Arizona crossed that line far too often in this series. It also didn’t help that the team committed four errors in the field, which is now a team high for most errors committed in a series this year, and this wasn’t even a three-game series.
On Deck: Arizona heads back to Tucson and will host the University of San Francisco this weekend at Jerry Kindall Field before the Wildcats start conference play at Arizona State the following weekend. The series starts this Friday at 7:00 p.m. MST.