View Full Version : Wildcats patience vs. 49ers pitching

06-11-2004, 05:00 PM
Editor's note: Baseball America contacted professional area scouts and college assistant coaches familiar with the 16 Super Regional teams for analysis.

Long Beach Super Regional
Arizona (33-24-1) vs. Long Beach State (39-19)
At Blair Field
Long Beach, Calif.

Arizona leads the series 17-16, but Long Beach State has won the last nine meetings. The 49ers swept three games from Arizona in March by a combined score of 18-4.

Long Beach Super Regional schedule
Friday, June 11
Game 1 - Arizona (33-24-1) vs. Long Beach State (39-19), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, June 12
Game 2 - Arizona vs. Long Beach State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2, regional coverage)

Sunday, June 13
Game 3 - Arizona vs. Long Beach State, 6 or 9 p.m. (ESPN2, regional coverage), if necessary

Arizona Wildcats
Coach: Andy Lopez (third season at Arizona; three trips to Omaha, two with Florida, one with Pepperdine, where he won the 1992 CWS title).
How U of A Got Here: Won the South Bend, Ind., regional, beating host Notre Dame.
Fab Five: So. OF Trevor Crowe (.337-5-31 with 23 steals); Fr. SS Jason Donald (.323-7-41); So. 1B Jordan Brown (.326-11-53); Jr. RHP Koley Kolberg (9-6, 4.52 with 110 strikeouts and 59 walks in 131 innings); So. RHP John Meloan (8-0, 4.89 with 55 strikeouts and 33 walks in 70 innings).
Lowdown on the Wildcats: "There are some great athletes; they have that freshman shortstop (Jason Donald) and he's going to be pretty good. (Trevor) Crowe can hit and he can run. Offensively they are very difficult to pitch to because they don't strike out a lot and run deep counts.

"Arizona took some good passes at (Jered) Weaver the first time they played, and his strikeouts were low. So you have to play good defense because you won't get nine, 10, 11 strikeouts. If you get the first guy out it strips their game plan in terms of bunting and hit-and-run. They can put one or two (runs) on the board any time because they are so feisty and have good at-bats, but don't have the thunder to get a bunch at once.

"They have good flexibility left and right and they can run, but there's no big power. The addition of (Jordan) Brown into the lineup in the middle of the year has added a middle-of-the-order threat. He hit 11 home runs in like half a season. One through nine, they can hit. Even (second baseman John) Hardy's down at the bottom and he's legit.

"(Koley) Kolberg without question has the stuff to be a No. 1 guy. The whole staff turns on him. He will stay in the game a long time because there's not a lot of confidence in the bullpen. If you get in that bullpen, you can really get to them. Be patient with Kolberg. He's thrown a lot of pitches this year, and came back to close that one in the ninth last week, so he could be tiring. I think Arizona has its hands full."

Wildcat notes
The Wildcats have reached the CWS 14 times but haven't made it back since winning the 1986 national title.

It's literally hit or miss for Arizona this season. UA is just 18-22-1 when scoring fewer than 10 runs in a game, but it is 15-2 when scoring in double figures.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they have had a hard time getting the bats going in opponents' parks this year. They have a .335 team BA at home but are hitting just .273 on the road.

Arizona was very much a bubble team on selection day, but Andy Lopez is now just two wins away from becoming only the third coach to lead three different schools to the College World Series.

Long Beach State 49ers
Coach: Mike Weathers (third season at Long Beach State).
How the Beach Got Here: Swept through the Palo Alto, Calif., regional, beating Stanford in the final.
Fab Five: Jr. RHP Jered Weaver (15-1, 1.65 with 201 strikeouts and 19 walks in 136 innings); So. LHP Cesar Ramos (11-4, 2.12 with 94 strikeouts and 33 walks in 127 innings); Jr. DH/LHP Jason Vargas (.355-5-32 and 7-6, 4.23 with 86 strikeouts and 29 walks in 104 innings); So. OF John Bowker (.332-7-41); So. SS Troy Tulowitski (.313-6-41).
Lowdown on the Dirtbags: "It's the same old song and dance for them. It's all about legit pitching and defense. They are going to hit enough at Blair Field. They tend to hit more away from Blair. There are capable hitters in that lineup. If they get to Omaha they will be an offensive team and can surprise some people. To beat Long Beach you need to keep it close. They play little ball, but play it closer to the vest because they know they can beat you 2-1. They're not going to put you away because they don't score enough. If you stay close, you can get a big hit late and make a comeback, like St. John's almost did (in regionals). Four runs might be enough to beat them sometimes.

"With (Jered) Weaver and (Cesar) Ramos and (Jason) Vargas, they have as good starting pitching as is left in the tournament. Can you get enough runs to beat them? No one's really proved it yet. There's nothing conventional about their pitchers. Weaver, the way he throws with that delivery and command, you don't see that much. Ramos just goes changeups and fastballs and command. The number three guy, Vargas, he's the most conventional using mostly his fastball. All those guys are like golfers in the tee box: They just focus on the pitch, and it doesn't matter if they give up three hits in a row, they still look like nothing's changed. I'm not thoroughly in love with their pen. (Neil) Jamison and (Brian) Anderson are OK, but they're not starting. It's a good bullpen, not a great one.

"Defensively, (Troy) Tulowitski is really good at shortstop. (Brad) Davis is a Gold Glover behind the plate and (Mike) Hofius is Gold Glove caliber at first. Second base has been a trouble spot. They're ranked really high in defense, but they don't make as many plays as most teams because the pitchers get so many strikeouts."

49er notes
Friday starter for Long Beach is Jered Weaver is a lock to be named college baseball's pitcher of the year after putting together one of the most dominant seasons of all time. He leads the nation in wins (15) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.3) and ranks second in ERA (1.65).

Weaver beat Arizona on March 18, allowing just three hits and no runs in 7.0 IP. He struck out only three Wildcats that day -- his lowest strikeout total of the season.

Long Beach is just 4-11 when allowing five or more runs in a game this season.

LBSU baseball prefers the nickname Dirtbags to 49ers.

Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.

ESPN researcher Brad Edwards contributed to this report.