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Relief pitching key to UA’s success

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2007 1:41 am

TUCSON • Most Arizona baseball fans can rattle off this weekend’s starting pitchers without hesitation: Preston Guilmet. Brad Mills. David Coulon. And, should the situation arise, maybe Guilmet again.

But UA’s lesser-known pitchers — specifically, relievers Daniel Schlereth and Jason Stoffel — could be the ones who determine its playoff fate.

The double-barreled closers will make their postseason debut at 11 a.m. today, when UA (40-15) faces Oral Roberts (40-15) in the first game of the Wichita (Kan.) Regional.

Schlereth and Stoffel must pitch well if UA is to advance beyond the first rounds of the playoffs. UA’s starters will be limited by both innings demands and concerns over their health and reliability. Mills has been battling back and abdominal strains in recent weeks, and Coulon enters the regionals with an ERA of 5.00.

“We’re hoping that all of a sudden, it becomes a five-inning game for our opponents,” UA coach Andy Lopez said. “If you’re behind Arizona in the fifth inning, there’s a chance that the sixth and seventh would be Schlereth and the eighth and ninth would be Stoffel.”

Or the other way around. The two will likely be used depending on how they match up with opposing lineups.

Schlereth, a left-hander, will be called on to face mostly lefties. He is the pen’s veteran, a hard-throwing sophomore who isn’t afraid to throw inside. Schlereth (2-0, 2.53 ERA) has converted on 11 straight save opportunities dating back to last season.

UA vs. Oral Roberts

What: Wichita Regional baseball opener.

Where: Wichita, Kan.

When: 11 a.m. today

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