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Posted Apr 4, 2011, 5:46 pm
Friday night's Pac-10 home opener against the Oregon State Beavers wasn't perfect for the Arizona Wildcats baseball team, but it was close.
Starting pitcher Kurt Heyer and his catcher Jett Bandy were a charged battery on Friday, leading the Wildcats to a complete game shutout over the Beavers.
Heyer's performance earned him the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week nod, his first weekly honor of the season.
The Cats scored 18 runs while their starter sacrificed 5 hits on 9 strikeouts and 2 walks. But for everything to go so right for one team, everything must go perfectly wrong for the other team.
The Oregon State defense began to unravel in the third inning when third baseman Casey Bell tried to make a play on a ground ball hit by catcher Jett Bandy. Bell ended up pulling a Bill Buckner, as the ball then went into left field, scoring two runs. A third run was scored on the play when left fielder Ryan Barnes made a poor throw to second base. Bandy then scored on an RBI single courtesy of designated hitter Robert Refsnyder.
In the sixth inning, the Beavers got sneak peek of what 2012 will feel like, as the Wildcats scored four more runs off bewildered starter Sam Gaviglio, five runs off Ryan Gorton (who only managed to get one out), and three more off Cole Baylis, who will have a stat line of 0.0 innings.
Head coach Andy Lopez said after the game that what made Heyer's shutout so special was that he didn't have to use his bullpen.
"That was crucial! Thank God we're done with those Tuesday/Wednesday games. That was tough. We didn't want to lose those games but we had to pitch people. We needed a strong outing out of him because we didn't really want to go to the that pen cause we used quite a few arms on Wednesday."
"I love Kurt's intensity. He comes out and wants to pound the zone and get guys out."
The complete game shutout was Heyer's first of his two-year career.
Heyer's catcher Bandy went 3-for-6 and provided 6 RBIs at the plate in Arizona's 18-0 win on Friday. He also called the entire game's pitches.
"It's unbelievable having Jett behind the plate," the Huntington Beach, Calif., native said. "I trust everything he calls and never shake him off. Not many pitchers have a catcher of that kind of quality on their team."
The win gave the sophomore right-hander his fifth of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.12, third among Pac-10 pitchers. Heyer also ranks second in strikeouts (69) and innings pitched (56 1/3).
"I love Kurt's intensity," Bandy said. "He comes out and wants to pound the zone and get guys out."
Heyer's next start is against conference rival Arizona State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Sancet Stadium.
Wildcats drop weekend's other two games
After getting a masterpiece from Friday's starter, Lopez hoped to get a repeat performance from Saturday's Kyle Simon. It looked good at first; Simon kept the Beavers at bay up to the fifth inning with run support from Bandy, Refsnyder, and Fenzel. Then a Ryan Barnes three-run home run knocked the pitcher out of the game.
In the sixth inning the game was still salvageable, until Ryan Dunn hit a three-run homer of his own against reliever Bryce Bandilla. A RBI from Alex Mejia promoted some hope in the eighth but a four-run ninth inning ended the game 10-4 and set the stage for a rubber match.
On Sunday, it was up to Tyler Hale to try to hold down Oregon State and give Arizona the series win.
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Going into the second inning tied one run apiece, the Beavers wanted to let the Cats see the other side of a big inning. Hit after hit after hit, the Beavers put up five runs on Hale and chased him from the mound in the third.
The Beavers chomped their way to an 8-4 victory.
This was the second time this season in which the Wildcats won the opener and then dropped the next two games of a Pac-10 series. They are now 2-4 in Pac-10 play; the lone bright spot Sunday was that the bullpen only gave up one run. The bullpen will be well rested entering each weekend, now that there are no more mid-week series with the exception of two Tuesday home match-ups against ASU.