The Arizona Wildcats began Pac-12 play in Seattle against the Washington Huskies, and will return to Tucson with a 1-2 record in conference. The Wildcats were doubled up in the first game 6-3, then again 8-4 on Saturday. But Arizona managed to at least salvage a game on the Seattle trip, exploding for a 17-7 win on Sunday.
There were plenty of great offensive performances and not so great pitching performances by the Wildcats this weekend. Here are some of the best and worst from the first three games of conference play:
1. Ryan Aguilar
The Arizona first baseman has been having a solid, possibly overlooked to this point, senior year. On Saturday, he busted out the long ball not once, but twice. Overall, he was 6-of-14 at the plate, drove in five runs, and scored three. He's one to keep an eye on as his average is now up to .333, and in his first time playing first base since he was 12 years old, he still has not committed an error this year.
2. Cesar Salazar
Don't look now, but the freshman catcher has the best batting average of any regular player after a big Sunday. Salazar went 4-for-5 with a couple of doubles in the series finale, capping a 7-for-12 weekend. He also scored four runs, and drove in three. One thing I really like is that he only struck out once, which was just his fourth K of the year. He gets the ball in play and makes the defense work. That's all you can really ask.
Not a bad 1st Pac-12 series for Fr. C Cesar Salazar:— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) March 21, 2016
Threw out only potential SB he saw#MLBTrainingGround
3. Jared Oliva
The outfielder had lost some playing time because of an extremely slow start at the plate, and still only got five at bats in this series. But he made them count, hitting for the cycle in those five at bats:
That's Oliva's 2nd HR of his career and 1st of the season. He has a 2B, 3B and HR this weekend in just 4 at-bats! #BearDown— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) March 20, 2016
1. Nathan Bannister
This was the first time Bannister had been ineffective all year. He still only had one walk, but ten hits and seven earned runs in 5 2/3 innings isn't going to get it done in Pac-12 play. This is the danger of Arizona having a lot of pitch-to-contact arms this year. If the balls are finding holes (or two are leaving the yard in this case), it will not end well.
2. JC Cloney
Three Down will be all pitching this week, and Cloney was ineffective for just the second time all year. Seven hits and three walks resulted in four earned runs in his 6 1/3 innings on Friday, but once again, his style of pitching can cause issues. UW only had two extra-base hits on Friday, and still managed six runs. That's not gonna get it done on Fridays in the Pac.
3. Kevin Ginkel
After Austin Schnabel exited after just one inning on Sunday, Ginkel was called upon, and struggled, walking a batter, and then giving up a home run. This forced Jay Johnson to go to Bobby Dalbec in the second inning, and Dalbec ended up working six innings, picking up the win to move to 4-1 on the year. Ginkel on the other hand, has allowed seven earned runs in seven innings of work this year, and has given up three home runs in that time.
Arizona returns home this week to host Utah Valley on Tuesday night at 6 PM before starting a three-game series with UCLA that will go Thursday-Saturday because of Easter. Those games against the Bruins start at 6 PM on Thursday and Friday, then 1 PM on Saturday.