Arizona baseball: Cats need someone to get in their faces, kick butt

2014-03-21T00:00:00Z Arizona baseball: Cats need someone to get in their faces, kick buttBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Riley Moore isn’t one to get up in his teammates’ faces. That’s never been his style.

A reserved, low-key native of Santa Barbara, Calif., the Arizona junior catcher has always preferred to lead by example and let his play do the talking. But that may not last much longer.

With the Wildcats at 11-12 on the season and 1-2 in Pac-12 play, things need to change — and fast.

So Moore, one of the seven holdovers from the 2012 College World Series championship team, is thinking about mixing up his style before the UA’s game tonight at Washington.

“Whether it’s me or Mathew Troupe or James Farris or Trent Gilbert, we need to step it up verbally and try to fix what’s going on,” Moore said. “Being with (coach Andy Lopez) the past three years, he knows we don’t have that going for us right now, so he’s trying to fill that void. But I think it needs to be a player.”

Moore, who started 62 games on the championship team as a freshman, said that year there was a solid mix of vocal leaders and leaders by example.

This year’s team lacks a verbal leader, and Moore said it’s starting to take a toll on the roster. As a junior, he’s taking it personally.

“In 2012, the juniors covered both ends of the spectrum,” Moore said. “We had vocal leaders with (Alex) Mejia and (Robert) Refsnyder, and they’d let you know what you were doing wrong and get up in your face. Then we had a guy like Seth Mejias-Brean, who just led by example. I think we have a lot more of that this year than we do vocal leaders. That can partially be my fault.

“We have a lot of hard workers on this team that really get after it, but don’t verbalize it and vocalize it. And maybe our team isn’t receptive to that and they need a kick in the butt.” 

Gilbert, who has started all 23 games this season and is batting .398, agrees things aren’t the same this year. He is hoping Arizona turns around before it gets too late, but doesn’t buy that his class got spoiled after they won the championship. 

“Now that we’re struggling, we’re trying to figure out what the common themes are between now and 2012 and how we can get to back to that,” Gilbert said. “We have a good idea of what it takes. … We know what we can do, but it’s not showing up on the field right now.”

Here’s a look at how the current juniors who played a key role in 2012 are faring this year, compared to the previous two. Troupe, out for the season with an elbow injury, is not included.

Tyler Crawford, pitcher

2012 stats: 1-1, 3.05 ERA, 38⅓ IP, two saves, seven walks, 18 Ks

2013 stats: 7-2, 3.83 ERA, 80 IP, 21 walks, 46 Ks

This year: 1-3, 9.78 ERA, 19⅓ IP, 25 hits, four walks, 15 K’s

The lowdown: Crawford didn’t travel with the Wildcats to Seattle this weekend, and continues to battle a stomach ailment. Lopez said he has lost more than 20 pounds. 

Trent Gilbert, second baseman

2012 stats: .272 batting average, 64 starts, seven doubles, 42 RBIs, 34 runs scored

2013 stats: .344 batting average, 55 starts, 13 doubles, 49 RBIs, 45 runs scored

This year: .398 batting average, 23 starts, nine doubles, six triples, 22 RBIs, 18 runs scored

The lowdown: Gilbert’s production hasn’t been the issue. Lopez moved Gilbert to the cleanup spot, and he has responded well. But the second baseman had a critical error in the ninth inning of a one-run loss to Washington State last weekend.

Joe Maggi, right fielder/ first baseman

2012 stats: .326 batting average, 45 starts, 19 RBIs, 19 runs scored, five doubles

2013 stats: .320 batting average, 48 starts, 27 RBIs, 31 runs scored, six doubles

This year: .206 batting average, 10 starts, two RBIs, nine runs scored, no extra-base hits

The lowdown: Maggi was suspended earlier in the season for a violation of team rules but has returned to the lineup. He seems to have lost his starting job in right field to freshman Kenny Meimerstorf and has settled into a late-inning defensive replacement.

Riley Moore, catcher

2012 stats: .301 batting average, 62 starts, 38 RBIs, 40 runs scored, 10 doubles

2013 stats: .285 batting average, 50 starts, 37 RBIs, 34 runs scored, six doubles

This year: .231 batting average, 14 starts, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored, one double

The lowdown: Moore received a cortisone shot in his shoulder this week, and has battled the injury most of the season. He’s platooning with Jordan Berger, but Lopez would like Moore to carry the load as in 2012.

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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