Arizona baseball can't pitch and catch
Not much has gone well for Arizona baseball recently. On Wednesday afternoon, the Wildcats’ struggles were highlighted as the squad dropped a 14-6 contest to rival ASU — marking the team’s seventh straight loss. Head coach Andy Lopez said the team’s lack of offensive and defensive execution has been unacceptable this year, but quickly pinned the blame on himself.
“It’s bad coaching,” Lopez said. “Obviously, it’s my worst coaching job I’ve done in 37 years. My job is to get them to execute, and I’m doing a very poor job of that.”
Even though offensive execution has been an issue for the Wildcats, they ranked as the Pac-12 leaders in categories like team batting average (.308), hits (277) and triples (17) going into Wednesday’s game. Their 11-16 record, however, speaks to the fact that the team hasn’t been getting things done when needed.
Lopez said that the team has been overlooking the small details of the game: sacrifice bunting, advance runners and not having smart at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Wildcat relief pitcher Tyler Parmenter (24) struggled horrible on Wednesday against Arizona State.
Arizona has become notorious this season for stranding runners, leaving 44 on base this year. The UA left six on base against the Sun Devils. The Wildcats only went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and 5-for-16 with runners on base.
Arizona’s lack of consistency and execution may be even more evident in its injury-plagued pitching rotation. The Wildcats have struggled to establish a reliable rotation past the No. 1 and No. 2 starters and rank ninth in the Pac-12 with a team ERA of 4.38.
In the first half of the game against the Sun Devils, everything was going Arizona’s way, and the Wildcats had built a 6-1 lead. But then in the sixth inning, the Wildcats forgot how to play catch, and poor pitching squandered their five-run lead.
Staring pitcher Tyger Talley turned in five full innings of work for Arizona, but in the right-hander’s final frame, he threw the second of two wild pitches. Arizona’s rotation combined for five wild pitches, five walks and a hit batter on the night.
Talley allowed four runs on eight hits but picked up a no decision, even though the team was still leading when he walked off the field.
The sixth inning was the epitome of Arizona baseball this season.
Pitchers Tyler Crawford, Xavier Borde and Tyler Parmenter relieved Talley and combined for .1 innings pitched. The three struggled to find the zone and combined to give up nine earned runs on four walks and four hits.
“We started out by throwing a lot of balls,” Lopez said. “It’s pretty simple: Our guys need to throw strikes. At that point, all of the wheels fell off in terms of inability to play catch on defense. Then they also had a few hits here and there. We can’t give anybody 10 outs, especially when we’re playing the competition that we face in the Pac-12.”
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17