From the penthouse to the outhouse. All in one day… one game.
So how does the University of Arizona baseball team sweep the No. 2 team in the country three straight games, and then three days later lose to un-ranked Utah Valley University?
Utah Valley University. You know, the Wolverines. A member of the Great West Conference. Won 18 games this season, lost 11.
And not that long ago, a junior college. UVU spent a seven-year provisional period to earn acceptance into the NCAA, gaining entry as an official Division I school in 2009.
But on Wednesday, they stunned the No. 4 team in the country, who had just beaten the No. 2 team, Stanford. The 5-4 win against the Arizona Wildcats was the first home game ever against a ranked team – and the game drew 2,014 fans to Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem, Utah, to witness the encounter.
It’s unlikely that any one of them anticipated a Wolverine victory. They just wanted to see the fourth-best team in the country. But that team didn’t show up.
Arizona was embarrassed early. The Cats were behind 5-1 going into the eighth inning – a situation with which they have some familiarity. It was the 16th straight game in which they have had to come from behind.
But this time, the lucky charm failed them.
Utah Valley was supposed to be a pick-up game the Cats would play before meeting Pac-12 opponent Utah for a three-game series beginning last night. Arizona got caught looking past the Wolverines as they got ready for the Utes.
They were, indeed, ready to play last night for the series opener against Utah, rapping out 19 hits enroute to a 11-2 win.
It’s not like the Cats hadn’t been playing well before the loss to Utah Valley. In addition to knocking off Stanford, which hadn’t lost a series all season, they were on a five-game winning streak that featured good pitching and strong effort at the plate; they were out-hitting opponents, .348 to .194.
And they had four home runs during that five-game run. That may not sound like a lot, but you have to consider they hadn’t hit one out of the park in the 17 games prior to that. In fact, they had just two all season to that point.
Their downside this season is their streaky nature. They win a few, lose a few, win a few, and so on (See 3/23 phxfan article).
But in the Utah Valley loss, Jeremy Gendlek silenced the Arizona bats. He was throwing a no-hitter going into the sixth inning and had retired 11 straight batters to that point.
A three-run homer by junior outfielder, Robert Refsnyder, brought a little excitement to the game, as the Cats clawed back to 5-4 with that blast. But it was too little, too late. Tyler Crawford, who pitched 5.2 innings for Arizona and gave up two runs, took the loss.
Last night against Utah, they were back on their game – and Kurt Heyer was back on the mound. The 6’2″ junior picked up his 20th career win and Arizona won its sixth straight conference game.
They found their hitting mojo, too, as each starter chipped in a base hit and eight of them scored runs. Johnny Field collected four hits and scored four runs, while Alex Mejia went two-for-two with three RBIs, and Bobby Brown added two hits, including a triple, and three more RBIs.
There were 10,656 fans that showed up at Hi Corbett Field for the games against Stanford, the largest crowd in 20 years to show up for a three-game home series. Based on the way the Cats rebounded from the UVU debacle to post big numbers against Utah, there should be another large home crowd awaiting their return to take on UCLA next week.
Then head coach Andy Lopez just has to hope the right team shows up for that series.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)