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Weekend sweep helps shape roster

By David Stevenson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday February 20, 2003

Arizona may have found its left fielder after a nine-game search.

Regular third baseman Trevor Crowe played in the outfield all throughout last weekend's series against California Irvine and quickly made the adjustment. The freshman knocked a double and five singles and did not commit an error all weekend.

"I'm just trying to do what's best for the team," Crowe said. "As long as I get to hit, I'm happy."

Crowe's journey through the playing field began at second base during the off-season. He moved to third but struggled defensively, committing six errors in the first six games of the season.

Meanwhile, his .452 average öö good for third on the team öö has kept him in the lineup.

Freshman Lee Franklin took over for Crowe at third on Friday and went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Former left fielder Brad Boyer played the last two games of the UCI series at the position and went a combined 2-for-8 at the plate.

Crowe said the position carousel benefits the team.

"It's been good to play different positions because you get to show your athleticism and learn about them," he said.

The pitching corps had a stellar weekend series in its first respectable outing of the season. The staff gave up one run on 13 hits with 22 strikeouts, spearheaded by starting rotation.

Last Friday, junior Joe Little pitched seven shut out innings and struck out 11 en route to a 3-0 victory.

Junior Sean Rierson followed his predecessor's lead on Saturday and tossed a complete game two-hit shut out that garnered National and Conference Pitcher of the Week honors. Rierson's ERA dropped from 14.14 to 6.19.

In the series finale, junior Richie Gardner gave up the lone UCI run of the weekend but pitched into the eighth inning.

Gardner said the staff didn't make any adjustments before the weekend series, despite the obvious turnaround.

"We just came in with a stronger mentality, and sometimes you get the results and sometime you don't," Gardner said.

The three pitching gems were the first signs of a maturing staff. Before the series, the staff gave up a combined 31 earned runs in the first six games of the season.

"It's not a necessity that everyone works on their mechanics but everyone works on their strategy. That's basically what we do before every game," Gardner said.

Arizona will play the first of four games in four days tomorrow when it hosts Minnesota in a three-game set. After the Golden Gophers, Oklahoma State will play UA in a one game tilt on Monday.

The extra game means freshman pitcher John Meloan will get his first collegiate start on the mound.

"I'm looking forward to it, and I'm ready to prove to everyone I can start," he said.

Meloan occasionally missed weightlifting sessions and condition drills in the past 10 days while recovering from the flu that infected over half-a-dozen Wildcats on the roster.

"Everyone's been sick because there's a lot of stuff going around," he said. "I've been eating healthy, getting a lot of sleep and drinking lots of water."

The 10-day spell slowed Meloan's workouts but not his availability. He threw two perfect innings in relief in Friday's win.

"I've got some sort of virus, but I've been telling myself to suck it up," he said.

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