Coming into Wednesday night's game against Grand Canyon University, Landon Faulkner had a 7.88 ERA giving up 20 hits and 14 earned runs in just 16 innings pitched. In Sunday's series finale against Oregon State, the right-hander gave up three runs in the two innings he pitched.
The Antelopes had runners on the corners with two out in the top of the fifth inning Wednesday night, and even with his recent struggles Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson still relied on Faulkner to preserve the 'Cats 3-2 lead.
Faulkner proceeded to get Ian Evans to ground out to end the threat.
It was the fourth and final pitching change Johnson would need to make.
Faulkner, a transfer from Chipola Junior College, was untouchable retiring 13 Antelopes in a row en route to an Arizona 3-2 win to help get the 'Cats back on track after being swept by Oregon State over the weekend.
"I want to give him a big kiss, that's what I think of it," Johnson said of Faulkner's performance. “He's had a rough go. In my opinion, he's the most talented pitcher we brought in, and somebody we've been counting on. (He) was good early, and has scuffled a bit of late, I think we figured some things out today, and he brought it to the competition and you can't get any better than that."
The junior changed some of his mechanics up recently with the goal slowing down the lower half of his body to help him get on top of the ball better he said.
"I was a little bit faster with my lower half which made my arm not catch up," he said. "So my ball flattened out and stayed up in the zone. I stayed more within myself a better lower half ... I'll just keep working on it."
The tweaks to his delivery worked in his favor Wednesday and he’s happy to see the progress.
"It felt great," Faulkner said. “I had a couple of rough patches early this spring and just kept working hard at practice and during my throwing program. I figured out a rhythm and just got dialed in. (I) try to stay within myself instead of just trying to be so explosive. Just stay within and pound the low strikes and hit Saly's (catcher Cesar Salazar) mitt."
Arizona, 17-7 overall and 2-4 in conference play opens up a three game series at Hi Corbett against USC, which is 15-8 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
The 'Cats will look to get back on track in Pac-12 play, after a 2-0 start they've lost 4 consecutive conference games. Faulkner said his performance Wednesday gave him a confidence boost going into the weekend and he feels the team will be in a different mindset with the Trojans coming to town.
"I think that means we're gonna come out more fiery and put the Oregon State series behind us," Faulkner said. "You can't look back and you just gotta keep going forward. Take it pitch by pitch and game by game, so I think it will be exciting."