Late-Innings Surge Sparks Cats to Win
March 23, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona baseball team started slow, hung tough and waited for Joey Rickard to put an emphatic punctuation mark on the team’s 12th-consectuive victory as the Wildcats defeated New Mexico, 10-4, on Tuesday night at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
The Wildcats’ bats were quieted most of the night by Lobos’ starter Kenny Toves, which allowed New Mexico to take an early 2-0 lead and then a 4-2 lead heading to the seventh inning. But, with Toves out of the game, the bats awoke from their slumber as Arizona plated a pair of runs to tie the game in the seventh before surging to a 10-4 lead in the eighth.
In the eighth with the score tied at 4-4, Robert Refsnyder singled off reliever Edwin Carl, who was lifted in favor of lefty Mike LaChappelle. Pinch hitter Bobby Brown drew a walk to put runners at first and second with no outs as the Lobos again changed pitchers when they called on Gera Sanchez.
Looking to move the runners up, the Wildcats called on a fake bunt slash play with Seth Mejias-Brean at the plate. Mejias-Brean bounced a ball high out in front of home plate that the Lobos were unable to make a play on, which loaded the bases. Alex Mejia followed with a two-run single up the middle, giving the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 6-4.
With runners at the corners and still no outs, Bryce Ortega reached on a bunt single, again loading the bases. Next, Rickard, second in the Pac-10 in RBI entering the game, blasted his fourth home run of the season to left field for his first career grand slam.
Cory Bernard allowed a hit and a walk in the top of the ninth, but closed the door on the Lobos as the Wildcats won, 10-4.
Arizona (17-4) tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh with several of the same key performers from the eighth inning rally. Mejias-Brean led off with a single to right and moved to third when Mejia reached on an infield hit. A throwing error by shortstop Daniel Gonzalez allowed both to move up one base.
Ortega then drove in Mejias-Brean on a groundout to short, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Rickard followed with a single through the right side, driving in his first of five runs on the evening.
The Lobos were in control of the game over the first six innings. Toves limited the Wildcats to two hits and just two runs – both unearned – over his six innings of work.
New Mexico took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off UA starter Daniel Workman, who was shaky in lasting just 2.1 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits and walked four, before he was replaced by Bryce Bandilla.
The pitching change was prompted in the middle of Ryan Honeycutt’s at-bat with a pair of runners. Honeycutt hit a high fly ball off Workman over the right field fence that was initially ruled a three-run home run. After a meeting between the umpires, the call was reversed and ruled a foul ball, and the Wildcats called on Bandilla to finish the inning. The Lobos added a single run later in the inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Both Workman and Bandilla benefitted from a solid UA defense that turned three double plays in the first three innings, preventing further damage by the Lobos, who held a 2-0 lead after three trips to the plate. Bandilla helped tame the Lobos as he tossed 3.0 innings and allowed two runs – one earned – on three hits.
From there, the UA bullpen was nearly flawless as four pitchers – Grayson Adams, Tyler Hale, Nick Cunningham and Bernard – shutout New Mexico over the final 3.2 innings. Cunningham struck out the side in the eighth to earn his second victory of the season.
The two teams will wrap up the two-game mid-week series on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.