By Michael Schwartz
JOSH FIELDS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman pitcher Matt Baugh launches the ball toward a Sidewinders pitcher Tuesday night at Tucson Electric Park during Arizona's exhibition game against the local professional team. After sweeping UCLA last weekend, the Wildcats jumped four spots in the national rankings to No. 6.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 7. 2005
The Arizona baseball team finally found a solution for its third spot in the pitching rotation Sunday, which had led to three straight series finale losses.
Head coach Andy Lopez simply calls it Cou-Berger, a combination of freshman left-hander David Coulon starting the game and his lefty classmate Eric Berger finishing it, which he plans to employ Sunday at Washington State (16-17, 0-6 Pacific 10 Conference).
"Hey, as long as it gets the job done I'm fine with whatever it's called," Coulon said.
After Wildcat pitchers, including Coulon and Berger, got shelled in recording an 0-3 record with a 13.50 ERA, 14 strikeouts, 16 walks and nine hit batters the past three weeks, the duo allowed just two runs on six hits as Arizona (21-10, 5-1) swept UCLA on the heels of Sunday's 12-2 win.
Berger pitched 5 1/3 no-hit innings in relief of Coulon, who allowed the two runs.
"We finally got a win on Sunday, and Berger pitched an excellent job," Coulon said. "He came in there and helped me out when I needed it. He was lights out, so it was good to get a win on Sunday."
Coulon credits an improved mental approach, which Lopez said was helped by the hard-working example set by junior starters John Meloan and Kevin Guyette.
"We were more professional with what we're doing," Coulon said. "We took a better approach in practice to get ready for the game on Sunday."
With Meloan and Guyette likely leaving for the draft after this season, Cou-Berger will combine to pitch more than just the Sunday game in later years.
"Those two guys have to be a future for us, and if they do what they did this past Sunday on a regular basis it's promising," Lopez said.
Arizona reaches highest ranking of season
After sweeping UCLA in dominant fashion last weekend, outscoring the Bruins 31-6 on the road, the Wildcats jumped four spots in the Baseball America poll to the No. 6 spot in the country.
The ranking is Arizona's highest position of the season and marks the greatest poll improvement in a single week.
No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, who both beat the Wildcats two of three times this year, remained in the top spots.
Conference rivals No. 10 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon State and No. 24 ASU follow Arizona in the poll.
The Cardinal (3-0) and Beavers (3-0) join the Wildcats at the top of the Pac-10 standings after all three schools swept their weekend series.
Arizona leads by a half-game, but has played one more series than Stanford and Oregon State.
The Collegiate Baseball poll does not think so highly of the Wildcats, putting them at No. 11. This represents a two-spot increase from last week and puts the team one position ahead of No. 12 Stanford as the highest-rated conference team.
The Sports Weekly/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll has Arizona at No. 9 after being ranked No. 12 last week, two spots in front of the Cardinal.
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association ranks Arizona No. 12, one spot behind Stanford, after being unranked in its previous poll.
Crowe fine after giving team a scare
Junior left fielder Trevor Crowe badly bruised his shin in Sunday's win over UCLA, but will return to the lineup this weekend against the Cougars.
Lopez said X-rays taken Monday revealed no fracture, but Crowe sat out Tuesday's 8-0 exhibition loss to the Tucson Sidewinders as a precautionary measure.
"We got a little bit of a scare with Trevor Crowe's injury, but he's OK and should be okay for the weekend," Lopez said. "It's just a little deep bruise."
Crowe went 3-3 with three runs scored Sunday before leaving the game in the seventh inning.
As Arizona's leadoff hitter, Crowe has hit .400 with four home runs, 30 RBIs and a conference-leading 44 runs scored.
Starting outfield hits .400
After leading the team with a .350 batting average last year, Crowe is not the only starting outfielder hitting .400 this season.
Senior right fielder Jeff Van Houten leads the team and ranks second in the conference with a .415 batting average, while junior center fielder Chris Frey hits .403.
Frey and Crowe follow Van Houten in the conference standings at fourth and fifth, respectively. Junior first baseman Jordan Brown ranks eighth, batting .380.
While this may be expected from Crowe and Van Houten, who hit .413 as a sophomore, Frey entered the season with a .238 batting average and eight career starts and was used mainly as a defensive replacement and left-handed reliever during his first two years.
Van Houten joked around with Frey at practice yesterday about passing the .400 threshold, but Frey said he does not concentrate on numbers.
"I don't try to look at that too much, (I) just try to go out and play every day, try to do my job," he said. "Everyone hits in the lineup, so I don't look at my average."