Arizona baseball has yet to 'arrive'
Columbia will give Wildcats many opportunities
No. 16 Arizona’s (11-4) weekend series with Columbia (0-4) will be another opportunity for Wildcats who have yet to prove their value before Pac-12 play starts next week.
Now 15 games into the season, Arizona’s pitching rotation and lineup have become almost completely solidified, with some slight variation in the lineup depending on if Arizona is facing a left- or right-handed pitcher.
Game three of the weekend series with the Lions could be the most important of all. The Wildcats have lacked consistency out of their Sunday starter. And last Sunday, starting pitcher senior Stephen Manthei (1-1) played himself out of the job by not being able to get out of the first inning.
His replacement, freshman Cody Moffett (1-0), would work out of the first inning jam, go 4.0 complete innings and retire 11 of the 14 batters he faced. It was Moffett’s fourth consecutive impressive appearance, which is why head coach Andy Lopez chose to start Moffett Sunday against Columbia. And with exactly one week until Arizona begins its first series in conference play, Moffett could win the starting job if he performs well this Sunday.
Carl Miller / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball wins against Texas Tech 6-2 in the first of a two-game series this week. Their second game will take place today at 1pm at Hi Corbett Field.
“I would love to be a starter,” Moffett said after his first career start on Feb. 27. “But I’m comfortable doing what ever the coaches want me to do.”
Seven pitchers for Arizona have emerged this season as guys who can be counted on when needed down the stretch. Starting pitchers Konner Wade and James Farris along with closer Mathew Troupe and relief pitcher Tyler Crawford proved their value last season in the Wildcats’ national championship run. But with this season to go with those four pitchers, Moffett, Augey Bill and Tyger Talley have also shown that they are ready to make a run.
While the team ERA is 3.63, the seven pitchers have so far posted a combined 2.18 ERA. With just five games remaining before the Wildcats host Oregon State (12-0) the three games against winless Columbia will be perfect opportunities for the rest of the pitching staff to try and join the group of seven.
“In 1992 we won a national championship with four arms,” Lopez said. “It’s hard getting [to the championship], but I’m not worried [about the depth of our pitching].”
Offensively, the Wildcats will use these upcoming three games to try and become more consistent at manufacturing runs. Lopez commented after Arizona’s 6-2 loss Wednesday afternoon to Texas Tech that the offense has yet to “arrive,” and that once it starts playing at an elite level, it’ll be ready to make another late season run.
Though Arizona is currently one of the top offensive teams in the Pac-12, Lopez would still like to see his hitters play more to their large home field dimensions. Lopez noted that shortstop Kevin Newman has drastically improved over the first 15 games, but many still believe the offense can continue to improve and be more consistent.
“So far I feel like we’ve done a good job [with execution],” third baseman Brandon Dixon said. “We got to continue to play the small game. This is a big yard, so manufacturing runs as opposed to stringing together a bunch of runs.”
The Wildcats will begin the three game weekend series with the Lions Friday as Wade (2-0) takes the bump for Arizona.