UA BASEBALL

Arizona baseball: Konner Wade switched from a Friday starter to a Saturday opener

2013-05-10T00:00:00Z 2013-05-10T09:58:00Z Arizona baseball: Konner Wade switched from a Friday starter to a Saturday openerDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arizona Wildcats pitching coach Shaun Cole called junior Konner Wade at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday morning with an assignment.

"I told him, 'I want you to get your College World Series tapes out today and watch one of the games and write down three key things that you see and we're going to discuss them before your bullpen session today,'" Cole said.

"What I'm trying to do is get his mind off what has happened recently and get it positive and moving forward."

It's crunch time for the Wildcats, and Cole is willing to try anything.

Wade was the best pitcher in Omaha a year ago, spinning two complete-game victories at the College World Series. He gave up just one earned run.

That's a far cry from his most recent outing. Last Friday, Wade went just 3 1/3 innings, gave up 11 hits and eight earned runs and took the loss in a 23-1 setback to Washington.

UA coach Andy Lopez and Cole then did some shifting. Wade, who has pitched in the ace's spot the first 12 weeks of the season, will move to Saturdays.

Fellow junior James Farris will move into the Friday night role starting tonight at UCLA. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Wildcats have just nine games left in the regular season and need to get hot if they want to make the NCAA tournament field.

"We're at a point where we need a better matchup on Friday," Lopez said. "Some people are more equipped, mentally equipped, and feel better pitching in that role.

"It's a special guy that can get out there on a Friday night and match up."

Wade went 1-5 against Pac-12 teams this season as the Friday night starter; he gave up five or more earned runs three times. He's coming off a sophomore campaign where he went 11-3 with a 3.96 ERA and dominated the competition in Omaha.

It hasn't been there this season.

"I'm just excited to get back on the mound and redeem myself," said Wade, who is listed by ESPN's Keith Law as the 92nd-best player in this year's draft. "It was unacceptable the way I pitched (against Washington). As a hitter, if you have a bad game, you get in there the next night. As a pitcher, you have to sit with it for a week. It hasn't been fun."

So what's been the difference? It depends who you ask.

Lopez said Wade's biggest issue this season has been his lack of an effective changeup. Last season, the pitch was Wade's best weapon and consistently fooled hitters.

Cole thinks Wade's biggest issue is location and falling behind hitters.

Wade thinks it's all of the above.

"He's been up in the zone with his pitches," Cole said. "If the fastball is up and the changeup is down, batters can decipher between the two more. Last year, both were down and they couldn't tell the difference. This year, they can."

Added Wade: "When you pitch up in the zone in this league, you're going to get hit hard. We've fixed a few things here and there, but overall, I just need to pitch better."

Wade's misfortune means a new opportunity for Farris.

Like Wade, Farris has just one win against Pac-12 teams this year, but has been pitching well lately. He gave up just one earned run over seven innings against Washington and has given up two runs or fewer in three of his last four Pac-12 starts.

"He should be juiced," Cole said. "He's getting a Friday night opportunity. He's pitched well enough to earn it. He's commanding both sides of the plate and has a three-pitch mix.

"He has the opportunity; now he has to keep it."

Wade in deep; start switched

On StarNet: Get the latest news about all Wildcats sports at azstarnet.com/wildcats

The series

• What: Arizona at UCLA, three games

• Where: Easton Stadium, Los Angeles

• Where: 6 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday

• Radio: All games on 1290-AM

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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