UA BASEBALL

Arizona baseball: Arizona must toughen up to snap 0-6 baseball slump

2013-03-28T00:00:00Z Arizona baseball: Arizona must toughen up to snap 0-6 baseball slumpDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Excuse Andy Lopez if he isn't monitoring the Arizona Wildcats basketball game tonight.

"I have my own March Madness going on," Lopez said this week.

And it's not the good kind.

Lopez's squad welcomes Utah to Hi Corbett Field tonight for the opener of its third Pac-12 series. The Wildcats were swept at home against Oregon State in the first series and then lost three straight to Oregon in Eugene.

The Wildcats (15-11, 0-6) had never opened Pac-12 play 0-6 since joining the conference in the 1979 season. The back-to-back conference sweeps were the program's first since 1998. Under Lopez, the UA has never had a losing streak longer than six games.

"I know what we've been doing doesn't feel good to everybody, and I know people are starting to realize that this has to change quick," sophomore closer Mat Troupe said. "We're tensing up too much. If the hitting is going well, all of a sudden our pitching goes south and vice versa. We have to play with more poise."

Here are three ways the Wildcats will try to get their mojo back this weekend against the Utes (12-10, 2-4).

1. Get some timely hits. The Wildcats scored one run in each of the first two games against Oregon last weekend; before scoring three in the ninth inning of the series finale, the UA had scored just five runs in the series' first 26 innings.

Lopez blames a lack of clutch hitting, and he's onto something. The Wildcats are 14 for 56 (.250) in conference games with runners in scoring position. The Wildcats are 5 for 13 (.385) when putting a runner on third base with fewer than two outs.

"We need more offensive production," Lopez said. "And when I say that, I don't mean a couple of three-run home runs. I want to be able to steal a base, drag bunt, successfully hit-and- run and then get a sacrifice fly. We're not doing that stuff very well right now."

2. Cut down on the walks. This one is driving Lopez nuts. Wildcats pitchers combined for 16 walks last weekend at Oregon, seven more than they gave out against Oregon State.

"We're averaging four walks a game, and you can't beat a good team with four walks a game," Lopez said. "We have to eliminate that."

It's been an issue for both the starters and relievers. In the finale against the Ducks, freshman starter Cody Moffett lasted two innings and walked two batters. Tyler Crawford took over and walked three in one inning.

3. Get tough. Lopez wants to see more fight from his team; in fact, he's been asking for it for the past three or four weeks.

"It's wearing them out," Lopez said. "But the reality is here. It's like when your mom tells you to do your homework over and over again, and you don't really listen. Then you fail a test or two, and you start doing your homework. Well, we better get tough. We're in the Pac now."

Troupe said he finally started to see some of that toughness in the last inning of the series against the Ducks when the Wildcats scored three times. He's hopeful it carries over to this weekend.

"We showed a little bit of fight in that last inning," Troupe said. "Now we have to carry that into this series."

The series

• What: Utah at Arizona, three games

• When: 6 p.m. today; 6 p.m. Friday; noon Saturday

• Radio: None today; 1290-AM Friday; Saturday TBD

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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