For the first time this season, the Arizona baseball team ran into a team that quite frankly was just more talented, and it showed this past weekend in Tempe. The Wildcats were able ride a solid performance by Kurt Heyer Friday night to secure a 5-2 victory in game one. But over the next two days Arizona was just out played in all facets of the game, scoring just two runs over the next two games, while surrendering 13.
WildcatAuthority.com now takes a look back at was a rough go around for Arizona in its Pac-10 opening series.
Friday 3/25: Arizona 5 Arizona State 2
W: Kurt Heyer (4-1) L: Kramer Champlin (3-1)
Saturday 3/26: Arizona State 5 Arizona 1
W: Brady Rodgers (3-1) L: Kyle Simon (5-1)
Sunday 3/27: Arizona State 8 Arizona 1
W: Jake Barrett (2-2) L: Tyler Hale (3-1)
Player of the Series: Kurt Heyer. Friday night wasn't Heyer's greatest start of his career or even his best start of the year for that matter, but it certainly had to feel like a special one. Last time Heyer faced the Sun Devils was May 15th of last year and it arguably turned out to be one of the worst outings of his colligate career thus far, as he surrendered seven runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work that night.
Friday night Arizona State got off to another good start scoring a run in the 3rd inning and another in the 4th frame after a Matt Newman solo home run. After the homer Heyer only gave up one hit the rest of the night, going 7.1 innings, while allowing only the two runs and striking out eight Sun Devils in the process. Heyer's performance also was one of the best the ASU offense has seen this year, as Friday night was only the third time this year Arizona State failed to score more than three runs in a game. The Sun Devils are now 0-3 when they score less than three runs.
1. Game 1: Arizona made a statement Friday night, showing it was the real deal and could compete with the big boys when things are firing on all cylinders. After falling behind early, the Cats climbed back into it to take the lead and earn the victory, scoring in four consecutive innings to end the game. As was mentioned in the series preview, Arizona's stars needed to play well and the pitching needed to be aggressive.
Arizona executed both of those things. Wildcat pitching combined for 10 punch-outs and three walks and some of the big names for Arizona got the job done as well. Joey Rickard, Cole Frenzel, and Jett Bandy combined to go 6 for 13 at the plate and drove in two runs. Seth Mejias-Brean also chipped in with a 3 for 4 night at the plate.
2. Nick Cunningham: When a team loses a series, sometimes it's difficult to find a lot of bright spots, but it looks like Andy Lopez is slowly starting to build Nick Cunningham back up. In the two appearances he made this weekend, he combined to throw an inning of scoreless baseball to lower his season ERA to 4.76.
While Nick only pitched an inning, he made the most of his limited time out there, shutting down arguably the best offense in the country. Make no mistake about it, if Arizona is going to make a serious run in conference play this year, it's going to need Nick to be on his game. He set the school record last year for most appearances by a freshman pitcher for a reason.
3. Shutting Down the All-American: Arizona State's Zack MacPhee was projected to be the best second baseman in the nation this season. He's had a rough start to the year and Arizona made sure that slump was extended, as MacPhee batted .083 for the series and virtually had no impact all weekend long.
1. Falling Behind Early: The Wildcats were in comeback mode all series long, falling behind 4-0 at one point in game one, 1-0 in game two, and 2-0 in game three. Arizona was already trailing in all three games by the 3rd inning.
2. Not closing the door: Arizona gave the Sun Devils too many extra at bats in games two and three partly because of four errors the team committed between the two games. ASU was able to blow open what was a close game in the 8th inning of game three with a five run inning, but four of those runs were unearned.
3. Missed opportunities: When you only managed to score one run on seven hits, there are usually some runs you missed out on. Well that was exactly the case in game three, where Arizona left seven men on base and four men in scoring position during the game. While the final score was 8-1 in favor of ASU, that wasn't an indication of how close the game really was. Going into the 7th inning the score was tied at one. Maybe if Arizona has a lead at that point, things turn out a little differently.
On Deck: The Wildcats return home to briefly continue their non-conference schedule when they welcome in the New Mexico Lobos for a quick two-game series that starts Tuesday at Jerry Kindall Field.
Series recap: UA vs. ASU
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