The Arizona Wildcats baseball team wasn’t able to build on the momentum from the win at ASU as UCLA took two of three games over the weekend.

When the week began Arizona fans would have been satisfied with a 2-2 split against #1 ASU and top-10 UCLA. But after the surprising win in Tempe it looked like the Cats could take a huge step by beating the Bruins at Kindall/Sancet.


Arizona’s defense fell down against UCLA.
Photo by Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic

And that was true. The Wildcats could have beaten UCLA, but they didn’t.

The Bruins coasted in the second game and Arizona held on in the third game, which made Friday night’s series opener the difference. Kurt Heyer did his normal thing, allowing just one run in six innings. He left the game on the hook for his first loss, however, as the UA was having no luck scoring against UCLA ace Gerrit Cole.

You may remember Cole as the guy who turned down 4 million Yankee dollars to go to college. Was he worth the money? “He threw one pitch at 99 miles an hour,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “Threw a sequence of 97, 98, 98 and 99 to (Rafael) Valenzuela.” In other words, maybe the Yankees shouldn’t have been so cheap.

But the Cats managed to scrape together a couple runs in the 7th inning thanks to three singles and a sacrifice fly. The lead held up until two outs in the 9th with freshman third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean booted a grounder to allow the tying run to score. Another error in the 10th inning led to four unearned runs to give UCLA the game and, ultimately, the series.

Saturday’s contest was lacking in dramatics as UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer went the distance, striking out 13 and allowing just two runs. “A dominant pitching performance,” Lopez said.

(Here’s the type of thing you learn as you scan the crowd and read t-shirts and jackets while the home team is getting is shut down: Did you know the University of Arizona has a ballroom dance team?)

The BatCats do deserve credit for bouncing back with a win on Sunday. “There’s no reason to panic,” Lopez said. “We just faced two pretty good arms.”

The lone victory put the Cats back over .500 in Pac-10 play as the second-to-last road series awaits. The UCLA result does add clarity to the rest of season as it allows you to cross contending for the league title off the list, just in case you got your hopes up a little after the UA crept within two games of first-place ASU last weekend.

The NCAA tournament goal remains very much in play. The young Wildcats just need to catch it.

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The early part of the NFL draft brought good news for the Arizona football program, while the end of the draft brought disappointment and a surprise visit from an old friend.

GRONK! went in the 2nd round which makes it very hard to argue he made a bad decision in leaving school early. If he goes on to a long career it means he was ready when he went pro. If his back goes out it means he probably would have gotten hurt here so it was good he got the bonus money when he did.

The true highlight for the UA was Earl Mitchell being selected in the 3rd round. I will always remember Big Earl running people over until the final gun in the blowout loss at LSU as a freshman fullback. We didn’t know he would turn into an NFL defensive tackle, but there was never any question about his heart and determination.

The only other Wildcat to get drafted never played a down at Arizona. Former UA basketball player Fendi Onobun is going to get a chance to show what his raw athleticism can do on the football field.

So that’s what was wrong during the end of Lute Olson’s tenure. He was recruiting NFL players instead of NBA players.

What does it mean that Arizona State got four players drafted (including UA hero Kyle Williams) while only one player from the 2009 Wildcats got selected?

If you wear maroon and gold it says Dennis Erickson is better at developing pro talent and it’s only a matter of time before the Devils are back on top.

If you prefer red and blue it means that Mike Stoops does more with less, and how is Erickson supposed to rebuild ASU when he can’t get more than four wins out of a team with four NFL players?

Maybe Erickson should start trying out some of Herb Sendek’s players.