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Column: Medel and Matijevic provide instant impact

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Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball pitcher Robby Medel (34) pitches during Arizona's 17-6 win against ASU on Tuesday night at Hi Corbett Field. Along with J. J. Matijevic, Medel has provided an early impact in his first season at Arizona.

Looking back at last season’s team, there’s no doubt the new pieces added to Arizona baseball have made an impact on this year’s team. 

Start off by looking at TCU transfer Robby Medel and freshman J.J. Matijevic. 

These names were mentioned way before the season started, and now we have an idea why.

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If you had asked me, Arizona coach Andy Lopez didn’t look like an individual who gave second chances. 

He sure proved me wrong.

Medel was moved from his spot as the Saturday starter after getting himself into a tough situation when the USC Trojans came to town. 

Sure, Medel had a bad outing, but let’s think about how much USC dominates and how many runs the Trojans scored that weekend.

Maybe Medel needed one more shot as a starter to bounce back from that.

Medel went to Lopez asking him for an opportunity to pitch after Arizona lost to California on Sunday. Medel got that second chance to prove he could get the job done in Tuesday’s game against ASU. He didn’t get the start, but after Cody Hamlin had a rough first inning, Medel took over and pitched 6.1 innings while allowing just one earned run.

“It felt good to do my job,” Medel said after Tuesday’s game. “Coming out of the pen has taught me a lot. It helped me get my confidence back.”

Lopez mentioned how going to the bullpen has been an issue all season because that’s when things go wrong, but maybe that’s because he’s bringing out the wrong guys. 

Yes, I’m saying he needs to bring Medel out more often.

So it seems that not only the pitching but the offense was off as well during the last Pac-12 Conference series. But after Tuesday’s game, Arizona’s offense looks to be back, and there’s one player in particular who has been a big part of that: Matijevic.

First base was up for grabs before the season started, and Matijevic took the spot. It’s now safe to say he’s busted out of his midseason slump. 

His bat got hot during the Cal series when he reached base during all three games.

“I’m starting to get the hang of it and starting to see the ball well,” Matijevic said. “I’m really adapted to the game now.”

The freshman hit his first career grand slam against the Sun Devils on Tuesday.

Arizona has a three-game series coming up against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., this weekend, and the series will make or break the Wildcats’ season.

The team still talks about making the postseason, and now, it’s actually time to prove how much they really want to play in June. 

Medel and Matijevic could be two of the key pieces to the success the team wants if given the right opportunities.

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Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela on Twitter.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (12/7)
607 14 2.3%
Total (8/2)
65,401 1,054 1.6%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated December 7, 2021