Arizona baseball starts mid-week series against Utah Valley
No. 10 Arizona (7-1) will continue its season-long 18-game home stand with a two game mid-week series with Utah Valley (3-4), which starts Tuesday night at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats are fresh off a three-game home sweep of San Jose State where they out scored the Spartans 32-15 overall.
“I thought we competed really well,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “A lot better than we did against Long Beach State.”
The Wildcats, as a team, were zoned in at the plate against San Jose but sophomore second baseman, Trent Gilbert, led the way. Gilbert went 7-12 in the weekend series as the number five hitter in the Arizona batting order. The Wildcats will need Gilbert to stay productive throughout the season in order to help protect the heart of the batting order that is starting to take shape with Johnny Field and Brandon Dixon.
“I’ve been getting some balls to drop in so I feel really good at the plate and in the field right now,” Gilbert said. “That just continues to build confidence, which hopefully will carry on through the season.”
Gilbert was one of only two freshmen to start a majority of Arizona’s game’s last season and showed up big in the championship game of the College World Series. In the final game, Gilbert went 2-4 at the plate and drove in three of Arizona’s four runs to secure the national championship.
As for Utah Valley, Lopez said he never looks at the scouting report for the upcoming opponents until the day of the game, but expects Utah Valley to be just as competitive as any other team.
The Wolverines are off to a sub-par start but won their most recent series against Portland. Utah Valley is 0-1 so far this season versus the Pac-12 conference. The Wolverines lost 5-2 to No. 6 Oregon State on Feb. 15 in the Palm Springs Tournament. Utah Valley enters the two-game series with the Wildcats with a team batting average of .243 and a team-earned run average of 4.28.
Lopez has still not decided who will pitch on Tuesday for Arizona. Senior Nick Cunningham started last Tuesday’s game against Long Beach State but has been suffering from a concussion. Lopez says if Cunningham can get cleared by doctors and is healthy by Tuesday’s 6 p.m. start time, then he will get the start. Sophomore Tyler Crawford started the Wildcats’ Wednesday game last week and is scheduled to pitch game two of their series against the Wolverines. He is on stand by to pitch Tuesday if Cunningham is still unable.