Arizona Baseball Notebook: Four things that stood out in season opening series
The Arizona baseball team got off to a hot start, and finished the weekend that way as the Wildcats blew away the visiting UMass Lowell River Hawks in a four-game sweep. Here are four observations we made after the opening weekend.
Pre-Season All-American Cameron Cannon too much for River Hawks pitching staff:
After hitting .321 last season, Cameron Cannon took no time getting back into form this season, going 8 for 14 in the opening series against UMass Lowell. He led the team in doubles last season with twenty-one, and is well on pace to beat that number this season after slashing six doubles in just four games to begin this season.
In fact, he is well on pace to surpass the UA single-season record for doubles, which was set by Dave Stegman in 1976 with thirty doubles. Cannon will look to continue his hot hitting in Houston this upcoming week against Rice University and the University of Houston.
UMass Lowell pitchers lose command all series:
This was certainly a series to forget for the River Hawks pitching staff, as they were all over the place this series. If Cannon wasn’t slashing doubles all over the field, it is safe to assume the Wildcats were taking first base via a walk.
The UMass Lowell bullpen combined to throw twenty-eight walks, while the entire River Hawks pitching staff combined to throw 45 walks for the series.
Game four on Sunday pretty much summed this stat up in a nutshell for UMass Lowell, as starter Sal Fusco walked seven of eight hitters (including six in a row to begin the inning) in the bottom of the second inning. The pitching staff combined to throw seventeen walks that game.
Power was on display for the Wildcats lineup:
In the four games of this weekend’s opening series, the Arizona Wildcats lineup combined to hit fourteen doubles, three triples, and five home runs. This was in large part due to Pre-Season All American Cameron Cannon slashing six doubles during the series, along with the freshman tandem of Ryan Colgate and Austin Wells combining to hit four home runs. Once Nick Quintana finds his groove again, which we saw on Sunday when he went 3 for 3, this lineup is looking to be deadly for opposing pitchers the rest of the season.
Patience of the Wildcats lineup:
Although it can partly be attributed to the wildness of the River Hawks pitching staff, you have to give the Wildcats lineup some credit for staying patient throughout the series. It could have been easy for them to assume that after so many balls were thrown, a strike up the middle would have eventually come.
However, they did a fantastic job of seeing each pitch as it went by them, staying patient and not blindly swinging at too many pitches in the dirt. That is key, especially come conference play, as a pitcher gains a lot of confidence when they are ahead in the count.
“I think the players have all improved,” said coach Jay Johnson. “And the plate discipline thing is a big part of our offense, big part of our training, and they worked extremely hard at it. As a staff, coach [Sergio] Brown and coach [Marc] Wanaka in particular, myself, I mean we have a high bar for offensive development here and we’re going to hold that high regardless of what the score is.”
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