Heyer's Arm Leads Cats to Win No. 2,500
Feb. 19, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. – It was only one win for Kurt Heyer and the 2010 Arizona Wildcats, but it was the 2,500th all-time win for the storied program, which became just the seventh school in the nation to reach the milestone after dispatching Utah Valley, 8-1, in the season opener for both teams on Friday night at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
Heyer, a freshman from Huntington Beach, Calif., struck out 13 in his collegiate debut while walking just one batter over six innings of work to earn the opening-day victory for the Wildcats. He allowed one run on three hits.
The 6-foot-2 right hander set the tone early as he fanned the first two batters he faced to open the game. Later, he struck out the side in the third and fifth innings, and he retired 13 of the 22 batters he faced via the strikeout.
The Wildcats gave Heyer plenty of breathing room early, scoring five runs in the second and two more in the third to jump out to a 7-1 lead.
The big highlight in the second inning came off the bat of senior first baseman Rafael Valenzuela, who roped a bases-clearing triple with the bases loaded to bring in three runs.
An inning later, catcher Jett Bandy blasted his first home run of the season to left field, answering the Wolverines’ lone run of the game scored in the top of the third.
After striking out the first two batters in the third inning, Heyer issued his only walk of the game with two outs. Utah Valley centerfielder Chris Benson followed with a triple, bringing home Jake Rickenbach all the way from first.
Heyer settled down nicely over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. His 13 strikeouts rank as one of the best single-game performances by a UA freshman pitcher and are the most for any Wildcat pitcher since Preston Guilmet’s 15-strikeout performance at Stanford on April 13, 2007.
Arizona’s bullpen shut down the Wolverine’s bats after Heyer’s departure, but not without a defensive boost. Freshman Nick Cunningham pitched a perfect seventh inning before giving way to classmate Tyler Hale in the eighth.
With runners at first and second, Hale induced a groundball off the bat of Benson. UA shortstop Alex Mejia ranged to his left to field the ball and attempted to throw out the runner at second, but his throw was late to the bag. One batter later, Mejia turned an inning-ending double play to allow the Wildcats to escape any damage.
Cunningham and Hale combined to throw three innings of shutout relief, while allowing just three hits and adding four strikeouts.
Arizona’s 17 strikeouts as a team in the game surpassed the 16 tallied by the UA pitching staff against Oral Roberts in the 2007 Wichita Regional.
The Wildcats will return to action to host the Wolverines in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.