By Matt Tresaugue
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Before most of his teammates returned to the dugout following a postgame team meeting, Ryan Frace, his face beet-red with frustration, had grabbed his equipment bag and rushed to the locker room.
It was the junior right-hander's assignment to win yesterday's game against Cal, and, in doing so, give the Arizona baseball team its first series sweep this season.
Frace, who has suffered from inconsistency all season, wanted the chance. But his defense played like a circus act in the Wildcats' 14-8 loss at Sancet Field, and the usually fun-loving Frace wasn't amused.
He was gone before any questions could be asked.
"Frace pitched effectively, but he received bad defense," UA coach Jerry Kindall said. "You could see the whirl of frustration building up because plays were not being made."
Frace endured 5 2/3 innings before Kindall rescued him. With Frace on the mound, the Wildcats committed four of their five errors on the afternoon, including a botched relay attempt that ultimately chased Frace from the game.
The Bears had just regained the lead, 9-7, when Cal's Jonathan Petke drilled the ball into the right-field corner. Jeff Gjerde retrieved the ball, but his throw sailed over second baseman Scott Kidd. And shortstop Tony Bouie. And then skipped past a diving Andre Dawson, who had found his way onto the infield dirt from his left-field position, into shallow left field.
Meanwhile, Petke scored.
Such was the day for Frace, whose record slipped to 1-6 with the loss.
"Things just fell apart," said Kidd, who tried, but couldn't find more than those four words to describe the day.
"We just couldn't play defense," said Kindall, whose team matched a school record for losses in a season (36) yesterday. "You must be able to do that to win 3-4 games in a row."
Until yesterday, the Wildcats (11-36, 7-20 in the Six-Pac) had played their best series this season. They had survived a ninth-inning scare on Friday to win, 7-6. Then on Saturday, Arizona built a 9-0 lead on the Bears before winning 14-5. Sometime over the weekend, however, the Wildcats lost their aggressiveness. Besides the five defensive errors, 14 runners were stranded. The bases were left loaded three times, including twice after called third strikes.
"Some guys just came out not ready to play," Kindall said.
Unlike his teammates, Gjerde had his finest game and weekend as a Wildcat. The freshman right fielder went 4-for-5 with a career-high five RBI. For the series, Gjerde went 8-for-11 with eight RBI.
Since the last time Arizona and Cal met, in March, Gjerde has raised his average 70 points to .283.
"I don't know what the difference is," said the soft-spoken Gjerde, whose two-run triple gave the Wildcats a 4-1 first-inning lead. "I am just coming out and playing hard." Read Next Article