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Friday April 13, 2001

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Wildcats look to avoid upset against Texas A&M- Corpus Christi

Headline Photo

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UA first baseman Ernie Durazo awaits a pick-off throw against USC March 25 against the Trojans at Sancet Field. The UA baseball team will take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this weekend at home.

By Brian Penso

Arizona Daily Wildcat

No rest for the weary.

While this weekend marks a break in the Pacific 10 Conference schedule for the Arizona baseball team, the Wildcats will return to the field anyway, playing host to Texas A&M Corpus Christi for a three-game series at Sancet Field.

Tonight's first pitch will take place at 7.

The Wildcats (23-17 overall, 6-6 Pacific 10 Conference) faced the Islanders for the first time last season, when UA prevailed 23-8.

However, a history of dominance means little when the players take the field.

UA pitching coach Bill Kinneberg has reiterated to his players that they can't take this series lightly just because it will have no bearing on their conference record.

"We need to keep our intensity up," he said. "It's really dangerous to take a break from conference play. We need to be ready to go mentally."

Kinneberg said the weekend will allow for numerous different pitchers to have an opportunity to gain innings before returning to conference play next week.

"Our bats have been real hot lately," Kinneberg said. "It would be an ideal situation if we could play well enough to possibly give our starters a little bit of rest."

Arizona's bats have carried the Wildcats so far this season.

The Wildcats enter this game coming off an 18-hit, seven-run performance that led to 14 runs against Washington State last Sunday.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they lost the offensive showdown 17-14.

Even though Arizona's pitching staff allowed 17 runs, senior first baseman Ernie Durazo said the Wildcats' pitching staff can return to form this weekend.

"They have done a great job for us all season," Durazo said. "It is really unfair to judge them because of one bad outing. There is nothing anyone else can do about it. We just have to give them the defensive support they need behind them."

Kinneberg said his young staff just needs to "shake it off" and regroup mentally in order to come out ready to pitch this weekend.

UA head coach Jerry Stitt will look to freshman Marc Kaiser (6-3, 4.50 ERA) in the series opener today.

Tomorrow, freshman Sean Rierson (3-4, 4.85 ERA) will get the start while junior David Brockman(0-1, 8.27 ERA) will start the final game on Sunday.

"This season, Kaiser and Rierson have been our go-to starters," Kinneberg said. "We will also look to (Daryl) DeSalvo and (Brian) Pemble as our go-to guys out of the bullpen."

With the season just about halfway completed, UA shortstop Brad Hassey said he realizes the importance of every game in order to make a series run at the playoffs, and they are not taking this series lightly at all.

"We were really focused last weekend, and we need to be the same way this weekend," he said. "We need to stay focused and play hard."