Arizona baseball: Wildcats win big again, but Lopez perturbed with effort

2013-02-17T00:00:00Z 2013-02-21T21:11:45Z Arizona baseball: Wildcats win big again, but Lopez perturbed with effortDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When Andy Lopez finally emerged from the home clubhouse at Hi Corbett Field on Saturday afternoon, he didn't look or sound like a coach of a team that just won 14-1.

Rather, he appeared somewhat annoyed with his squad, which knocked off Coppin State for the second straight day and has outscored the Eagles 30-1 in two games.

"We have to work on our identity," said Lopez after a 15-minute postgame meeting with his team. "(Scott) Kingery kinda glided on a base hit, we had (Ryan) Koziol striking out with his head pulling off the plate - little things. But, the main thing is, what is our identity going to be?

"Are we going to give up innings, at-bats, or are we going to be real tough innings one through nine?"

As Lopez searches for this year's team's identity, a good place to start could be dominant starting pitching.

Junior James Farris tossed eight innings, giving up just two hits and one run and striking out a career-high eight batters. He needed just 85 pitches and would have gone for the complete game had the Wildcats not scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth and kept him in the dugout for such a long time.

He followed Konner Wade, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Friday and pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

"This is a good starting point for me," Farris said. "My fastball location was working really well for me today. My curveball also looked good at times and gave me something to mix up speeds with."

Wade and Farris were the Saturday and Sunday starters last year behind Kurt Heyer and have both moved up a slot for their junior seasons. Farris, a junior from Gilbert Highland High School, said the two have a healthy competition going on.

Of course, Farris lasted eight innings Saturday and Wade didn't get out of the seventh Friday.

"I'll bring that up to him (today)," Farris said with a smile. "But, I think it's great that we are competing with each other. I bet you (Stephen) Manthei comes out and pitches great, too. We all want to top each other."

Like Wade, Farris had plenty of run support to work with. Sophomore catcher Riley Moore was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, three runs scored and three walks. Koziol, a freshman first baseman, was 2 for 4 with four RBIs and sophomore second baseman Trent Gilbert was 2 for 4 with three RBIs.

The Wildcats scored four runs each in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings and collected three triples in the win. Every starter reached base at least once.

Between Farris' solid start and the 14 runs, Lopez did see a few things he liked.

"We do get timely hits right and we play pretty good defense, but we have a lot of areas to improve on," Lopez said. "When you lose five junior players, you lose a little bit. You lose a little presence on the field.

"Now it's a process of letting this group grow into their presence."

As Lopez searches for what this team will be about, his players think it may take some time to truly know.

"I think we just have to keep playing," Moore said. "Whether we have an idea of who we are or not yet, I think that's going to remain a question until we get into conference play with good Friday night arms and good teams.

"But, I'm excited for this team. We're going to pitch the heck out of it."

The Wildcats and Eagles will complete their three-game series today at noon.

Today

• What: Coppin State at Arizona

• When: Noon

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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