Arizona baseball: Coach Lopez takes blame after Cats lose 5th straight

2014-03-06T00:00:00Z Arizona baseball: Coach Lopez takes blame after Cats lose 5th straightBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

There have been times after losses that Andy Lopez has been mad at his pitchers or displeased with his hitters.

Following Arizona’s latest setback, an 11-4 loss to Long Beach State on Wednesday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field, the coach’s anger was directed squarely at one person — himself.

“This may be the worst coaching job I’ve ever executed in 37 years as a head coach,” Lopez said. “It feels like it’s right at the top of the list. I’m not doing a good job.

“I’ll start tomorrow, though.”

An irritated Lopez watched as his team lost its fifth straight game and fell to 6-7 on the season. It marks the first time since May 6, 2009, that the Wildcats are below .500. Then, the UA was 22-23, before eventually finishing 30-25.

“We have some things we need to fix, obviously,” Lopez said. “It’s clear as a nose on your face. We’ll start doing that tomorrow at practice. We’ll re-establish some standards and some things I’ve always felt are important in any program I’ve coached.

“I do see some things missing that alarm me right now.”

On Wednesday, the alarm was going off loudly for nine innings. The Dirtbags scored two runs in the first, and led from the start. They added one more in the second and three more in the fifth to take a 6-0 lead.

The Wildcats tried answering back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but never got closer than four runs. In Tuesday’s 3-2 loss, most of the problems could be attributed to the bats. On Wednesday, the issues were widespread.

Each of the first three UA pitchers gave up three runs. Starter Tyler Crawford surrendered three earned runs and six hits in 3ª innings. All total, Lopez used six pitchers, who combined to hand out nine walks and hit three batters.

The bats were just as bad.

The No. 3 through No. 7 spots in the lineup combined to go 0 for 19 and strike out four times. The top two hitters in the lineup, Scott Kingery and Zach Gibbons, and the bottom two, Cody Ramer and Tyler Krause, combined for all eight of Arizona’s hits.

The Wildcats again struggled with their situational hitting, going 0 for 7 with two outs, 5 for 19 with men on, and 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

“We’re just not executing like we’re supposed to,” said Gibbons, who was a rare bright spot, going 3 for 3 with three RBIs and a double. “Like coach said, we’re not competitive. The easy things that we’re supposed to be doing, we’re having a hard time with.

“We can be a lot more competitive than we have been. It shows in our at-bats, it shows in our pitching.”

Lopez said he’ll start addressing his team’s lack of competitiveness at practice today. He wouldn’t divulge details.

“It will get addressed,” he said. “We’ll start with competitiveness. I’m really disappointed in that, and that’s all my fault. It’s totally my fault. Our competitiveness needs to get to a higher level.”

After today’s practice, the Wildcats will return to action Friday at 7 p.m., at Hi Corbett against 2013 College World Series runner-up Mississippi State. Lopez is hoping he starts to see signs of improvement. Right now, the coach who always maintains his sense of humor isn’t seeing much he likes.

“I think we do a good job standing for the national anthem right now,” said Lopez, when asked about any positives. “We do a pretty good pregame.”

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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