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Arizona freshman’s night at the plate is no laughing matter (Includes interview and first-hand account)

“People have always said my last name wrong,” Matijevic said. “Throughout my life, I have always just laughed it off and then corrected them.”

His offensive performance on Tuesday against Oakland, however, was no joke.

Matijevic, who pronounces his last name matt-uh-JEV-ick, went 3-for-4 at the plate against the Grizzlies. His 2 RBIs ignited Arizona’s hitting display in its 10-7 victory over Oakland.

“I haven’t been hitting very well lately, so my approach was to look middle-out,” Matijevic said. “So when it was there, I just turned on the ball, and it worked out well.”

The freshman came into the game batting .150 on the season, until his three-hit game on Tuesday. The native Pennsylvanian is now 6-for-27 on the year with a .222 clip.

“You just have to stay positive,” Matijevic said. “Baseball is a hard game. Slumps happen, but you have to work your way out of it.

On the other side of the ball, Matijevic is fielding at first base, a new position for the long-term shortstop.

“This is my first time ever playing first base, so I struggled at defense early on,” Matijevic said. “But I’ve been working really hard on it and been trying to stay confident.”

Last year, Matijevic was drafted in the 22nd round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox. This season, the first-year Wildcat said he is looking forward to performing well at the college level.

“I don’t even feel like I’m a freshman anymore, honestly. My teammates have taken me in well, and I have been getting a lot of playing time. I’ve been doing what I can to help this team win.”

Matijevic, who calls North Huntingdon, Pa. his hometown, said he partially chose to move out west in June 2014 for college because of Arizona’s beautiful scenery. Although he does not participate in any outdoor sports, the left-handed batter said he really enjoys the warm Tucson temperatures.

“The biggest difference between Pennsylvania and Arizona has been the weather, obviously,” Matijevic said. “I love the heat. But it’s also the baseball. It’s a whole new environment out here. Just a great atmosphere.”

Matijevic and the Wildcats (8-2) begin their first away series on Friday in Starkville, Miss. Arizona will face both Samford University and Mississippi State this weekend.

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