The Arizona Wildcats leave San Diego with a 2-1 record in the Tony Gwynn Classic after three very good and exciting baseball games. After opening the tournament with an 11-10 loss to Tulane, Arizona found itself on the right end of an 11-10 decision against Nebraska on Saturday. Then, to close things out, the Wildcats defeated host San Diego State 7-3 on Sunday.
It was a fun road trip to be a part of, and it was certainly interesting to see what this team is like under the new coaching staff.
Here's the three best performances from the weekend, and the three worst:
1. Alfonso Rivas
Coach Johnson has told me that Rivas might be the best freshman on the team, and after one week, I was skeptical. But Rivas turned things around in a major way this weekend, as he was named to the Tony Gwynn Classic All-Tournament team, the only representative from Arizona. Rivas went 9-for-15 at the plate, including a couple of really clutch hits in the two wins. He also drove in seven runs, scored four, and hit the team's first home run of the year.
2. Cesar Salazar
If Rivas is the best freshman on the team, Salazar is right there in contention for that title. The catcher was 6-for-11 despite not starting Sunday's game due to SDSU throwing a left-hander at the start. He also threw out his first two collegiate baserunners. His two RBI put the game away on Sunday, and he also scored two runs earlier in the weekend. Big weekend for freshman hitters.
3. The Bench Mob
After the opening weekend at Rice, there was some talk from people that were in attendance about the energy coming from Arizona's bench. Let me tell you, it's real, and it had an effect on certain opposing pitchers throughout the weekend. All of the sudden there are water fountains spraying out of the dugout after runs. There are rally towels being waved. The energy is alive and well. And they go hard. Arizona fans should be excited about what they'll get to experience on Wednesday for the first time. Maybe they'll even put on another basketball clinic for everyone.
1. Bobby Dalbec
Arizona's do-it-all star is definitely struggling in this first part of the year, but may have found something that worked late on Sunday as he hit a big double down the left field line. Overall, the junior went 2-for-14 at the dish, including a rare platinum sombrero (5 Ks) on Friday. Both of those hits were doubles though, and hard-hit doubles. Maybe he'll get it going soon.
2. Friday and Saturday pitching
Honestly, the only good performance from an Arizona pitcher from beginning to end in the first two games came from Rio Gomez, and he only faced one batter. Everyone else struggled big time at some point during their outing. It's also concerning given that you aren't going to win a lot of 11-10 games on Fridays and Saturdays in the Pac-12. Fortunately, Sunday's pitching performance was stellar from all three guys involved, and gave some hope moving forward.
3. Jared Oliva
One hitter who didn't join the party was Arizona's center fielder. Oliva managed just one hit in eleven at bats, and struck out four times. Not great, but just like Dalbec, I'd expect him to start picking things up sooner than later.
Arizona is back in action on Tuesday, as they'll take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in an exhibition at Salt River Fields. The home opener is Wednesday night against Cal State Fullerton.