Wildcat baseball squad gets back to business
The UA baseball team, currently riding a three-game losing streak, will try to get untracked today as they take on New Mexico at 3 p.m. at Sancet Field.
For UA, the two-game series will be a chance to get its record above .500. Since winning four of its first five games, the Wildcats have dropped three in a row, bringing their record to an even 4-4.
UA head coach Jerry Stitt is trying to take the losing streak in stride.
"We'll be all right," he said. "We've got a way to go, we just need to keep playing hard."
The Wildcats have won the last eight meetings against UNM. However, the Lobos are hardly the Western Athletic Conference doormat that they have been in the past.
For one, UNM is not in the WAC anymore. This is the inaugural season for the Mountain West Conference, which consists of six former WAC schools.
In New Mexico, the Wildcats are facing a team that won its first three games, one shy of a school record.
New Mexico is led by shortstop Scott Candelaria who, despite playing three positions in three years, is currently considered one of the best shortstops in the MWC. As a hitter, Candelaria rarely strikes out, having fanned just 52 times in his 545 career plate appearances.
The Wildcats will also have to worry about Lobo third baseman Aaron Sisk.
Sisk, a junior, was named a third-team pre-season All-American by Baseball America. Sisk, UNM's most potent offensive weapon, hit 20 home runs and led the WAC with 76 RBIs as a sophomore.
In order to shut down the Lobos, and more notably Candelaria and Sisk, the Wildcats will be have to improve their pitching. In the games on Sunday and Monday, the Wildcats allowed 31 runs on 38 hits, losing both contests. Starting Thursday against the Lobos will be sophomore ace Ben Diggins, who allowed five hits and two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Friday against San Francisco.
He will likely go up against New Mexico's Chris Cooper, a junior college transfer from Delaware. The left-handed junior went 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA last year at Delaware Technical College and was named second-team All-American.
As for the losing streak, the Wildcats don't appear to be worried.
"It's a long season," UA junior pitcher Kenny Huff said. "There's always tomorrow."
Ryan Finley can be reached at Ryan.Finley@wildcat.arizona.edu.