Sometimes you hit the ball.
Sometimes the ball hits you.
The Arizona Wildcats baseball team took its lumps in a three-game sweep at Cal but none was bigger than the one on Kurt Heyer’s head. The freshman pitcher was cruising along Thursday afternoon before a line drive hit by the Bears’ cleanup hitter caromed off Heyer’s skull and sent the Cats into a tailspin.
That’s actually oversimplifying things. Heyer’s misfortune explains why the team gave up five runs in the 4th inning of the first game but it doesn’t explain the eight runs given up in game two. And it certainly isn’t an excuse for Arizona’s bats only producing five runs in three games.
This was the lingering question as the home wins piled up. Could the UA offense keep it up on the road against Pac-10 pitching? The early results are in and the reports are not favorable.
The 2010 Wildcats have to hit to win. This team is not going to win a lot of 4-3 games. The Cats need to put seven or eight runs on the board and then hang on. That’s not good news heading into a series against a Washington team that only gave up 11 runs in three games in their league opener against WSU.
It’s way too early to throw in the towel on the season but the Cal series reminds Arizona fans that if this freshman-heavy team gets into the postseason in any way, shape or form it’s a successful year. So what will it take to make the NCAA tournament? Here’s a look at the number of Pac-10 teams to get bids in each of the last few years and what it took to end up on the right side of the bubble:
|Year||Teams In||Worst Team||Pac Record||Overall||2004||5||ARIZONA||12-12||30-24||2005||5||Stanford||12-12||32-23||2006||4||Stanford||11-13||30-25||2007||4||OSU||10-14||38-17||2008||5||Cal||12-12||33-19||2009||3||OSU||15-12||35-17|
If Cats were to finish 13-14 in Pac-10 play and split the six remaining non-conference games (half are on the road) they’d be 34-21 overall. That would put us on par with other middling Pac teams that have made the tournament in recent years. The key would be to pick up some RPI-boosting wins (against ASU, UCLA and/or OSU) to add some meat to the cupcakes.
It’s worth noting that half of these average teams went on to do great things in the postseason. The ’06 Cardinal won its regional, the Cats made the College World Series in 2004 and OSU won the whole thing in ’07. Anything can happen, as long as you get in.
Now the question this: Can this team go 13-14? There are 21 Pac-10 games left and 12 of them are at home. If you win every home series that gives you eight wins meaning you’d have to win three road games. Doable, as long as you don’t get swept again.
Winning the series at Washington this weekend would help a lot. Beating the Huskies once and winning the Monday game with Gonzaga would be decent. Winning a single road game would be a start.
Lose all four games? That’s a headache none of us want to deal with.
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So who are you rooting for in the NCAA basketball tournament championship game?
I know, what a stupid question. What color is the sky? Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb? Is ASU on probation?
You would be hard pressed to find a sporting event where the rooting interests of the general public are so lopsided. On the one side you have a small school from a small conference. Their coach looks younger than his players. They play in the gym from “Hooisers.” Butler is such an underdog their mascot is a real live dog.
And in this corner you have the most universally disliked team in college basketball.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if the New York Yankees and Duke Blue Devils were reigning champions at the same time? The only way to make it worse would be to add victories by the Dallas Cowboys and Soviet Union.
So…go Bulldogs. Slay one last Goliath for all the aspiring Davids out there. Is it likely to happen? No.
I’d say it’s probably as likely as an earthquake in Arizona.