UA BASEBALL

Arizona Baseball: Wildcats' resilient catcher putting more on shoulders

2013-03-01T00:00:00Z Arizona Baseball: Wildcats' resilient catcher putting more on shouldersDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Nearly 11 months ago, Arizona Wildcats catcher Riley Moore hit baseball bottom.

The UA was leading 6-5 against last-place Utah, and was four outs from getting a win.

Moore then dropped a third strike, misfired a throw to first base and dropped the ball as it came back to him to get a runner at home.

Two errors and a dropped third strike on one play. Utah scored two in the frame and won 7-6.

"It did some things to me," Moore said. "Some dark things."

The sophomore from Santa Barbara, Calif., said he didn't sleep more than a couple of hours that night.

"I walked around, listened to music, watched TV, put it on mute, listened to (roommate) Trent (Gilbert) snore," Moore recalled. "I didn't want to let it go."

But when he showed up at the park the next day, coach Andy Lopez didn't give him a choice.

"'Lopes' pulled me aside, and I remember exactly what he said to me," Moore said. "He said, 'Picture last night … if that's the worst moment you have in your entire life, you'll be OK.'"

Moore went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs that day, and the Wildcats won the rubber game 11-7. More importantly, Lopez learned something about his catcher.

"A guy who isn't mentally tough, he's beat for the next week off that game," Lopez said of Moore, who will lead the Wildcats into a three-game series against San Francisco starting tonight. "He's mentally tough."

Here are three things we've learned about Moore, who is hitting .306 with six RBIs in the first 10 games of his sophomore season.

1. He's ultra-competitive. This isn't lip service: Moore lost the final 17 games of his high school career and didn't handle it well. When he arrived in Tucson and learned how competitive Pac-12 baseball is, he was thrilled.

"In high school, I was pretty much the only one who cared," Moore said. "When I came here, I wasn't the freak who wanted to work hard like high school. I just fit in."

2. He's working to take command behind the plate. Lopez said Moore's freshman season was graded like this: "Started as a C, climbed into a B, and he was an A in the postseason."

To earn an A again as a sophomore, Lopez wants his backstop to demand perfection from the pitching staff.

"He really has to engage them," Lopez said. "Don't let the count get to 3-1. If it's 2-0, you don't need to have a United Nations conference, but you stand up in front of the plate and say 'enough is enough.'"

3. He's stronger than last year. Moore, listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 190 pounds, blames his family that he's not physically stronger.

"Everyone in my family is skinny, tall and fast," Moore said. "I just got the skinny and tall part.

"I ain't fast."

Moore is working to fix the skinny part. He said he's put on close to 15 pounds since the end of last season. He lost a lot of weight during the 2012 campaign and is learning how to keep weight on during the season more.

"I'm drinking protein shakes after games, lifting, doing whatever I have to," Moore said. "I'd like to put on a few more."

Today

• Who: San Francisco at UA

• Where: Hi Corbett Field

• When: 6 p.m.

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