For a series in which Arizona (5-1) dropped the first contest by the closest of margins and rained threatened to cancel the first two games, the Wildcats ended up coming away from Long Beach in pretty good shape.
After losing the first game, where the Cats were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position, the UA came back in the next two games and outscored Long Beach State (2-5) a combined 16-2 in the two contests, coming away with their first road series victory of the season.
Friday 2/25: Long Beach State 2 Arizona 1
W: Andrew Gagnon (1-1) L: Kurt Heyer (1-1)
Saturday 2/26: Arizona 9 Long Beach State 1
W: Kyle Simon (2-0) L: Matt Johnson (0-1)
Sunday 2/27: Arizona 7 Long Beach State 1
W: Tyler Hale (2-0) L: Branden Pinder (0-2)
Player of the Series: Kyle Simon. He came through when Arizona needed him the most. He's now 1-0 when pitching after a loss, obviously that may not mean much now, considering the Wildcats have only lost one game on the year, but if he can turn into a streak stopper, this guy might turn into one of the most valuable players this team has. After losing game one of the series, Simon came out on Saturday night and pitched eight innings of one run baseball, with that run being unearned.
Didn't think Simon was really "ace" material coming into the year? Think again. He leads the team in innings pitched (15.2), strikeouts (20), wins (2), and has the lowest ERA (0.57) of anyone on the starting pitching staff; a group that's only given up a total of four earned runs on the season.
Rookie Watch: Johnny Field. For the second straight week this freshman has really been impressive, going 5 for 11 for the series, raising his batting average to .421, which is now the third highest average on the team. He also drove in the only run for the Wildcats in Friday night's opener and really set the stage for what should have been a dramatic 9th inning comeback.
Too bad no one else wanted to show up in game one. Nevertheless, Field is really making Steve Selsky's injury look like a blessing in disguise. Let's see how long he can keep it up.
1. The Pitching: When your starting staff gives up two earned runs for an entire series, more times than not that probably should translate into a series sweep. It didn't happen this weekend, but the Cats still got the series win. As great as the starting staff was, the bullpen was even better, as it still has yet to give up an earned run this season. Not sure what more you can ask for.
2. The Rebound: After game one where the Wildcats only managed one run on seven hits, Arizona came back Saturday and Sunday and combined for 25 hits and 16 runs. The UA also gave up two runs Friday night and only gave up two runs the rest of the series after that.
Turning it around after a tough loss is going to be a very important skill for this team to learn come playoff time where they'll be in a double elimination format.
3. The Big Inning: In Arizona's two wins, it had a big inning in each game to essentially give LBSU no chance of coming back. It was the 5th inning in game two where the Wildcats batted around the order, scoring six runs in the inning to put Arizona up 8-0 at that point. In Sunday's contest, it was the 1st inning where the Cats racked up four runs early and never looked back.
1. Making the mistakes: Arizona had three errors in the series that led to two runs for the Dirtbags. It didn't completely kill them this series, but against tougher opponents on the road, those kinds of mistakes are going to determine wins from losses.
2. Patience at the Plate: The Wildcats only walked three times in the entire series, compared to 17 Arizona strikeouts. Two of the three walks came because the pitch hit the batter. Bottom line is: take a few more pitches; you get three strikes, not one.
3. The Missed Opportunity: Yes the Cats won the series, but they had a runner at third base with no one out in the 9th inning of Friday night's game. With three outs to work with Arizona failed to score the tying run. Be happy with the series win, but also realize if you're Arizona, you easily could be sitting at 6-0.
On Deck: The Wildcats return home Tuesday night to play the No. 22 Rice Owls in their biggest test of the year so far. First pitch will be at 6 p.m. MST at Jerry Kindall Field.
Baseball: UA vs. LBSU recap
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