Baseball Hammers Utah, 17-5

Feb. 2, 2002

TUCSON, Ariz.- Headaches. Sophomore left-hander Joe Little proved that he didn't have one in his first start since being hit in the head by a ball last Sunday and freshman John Hardy doled them out with regularity to the Utah pitching staff all afternoon. Arizona cruised in its second blowout win of the season, pasting Utah, 17-5, at Frank Sancet Field, Saturday afternoon. The win is the fifth straight to open the 2002 season for the Wildcats (5-0) and the eighth consecutive victory dating back to last season.

The Arizona offense batted around in an inning twice on Saturday and five of the nine starters had two or more hits, but the man of the day was Hardy.

The freshman third baseman collected three hits on the afternoon, including his first career home run, a grand slam into the wind in the seventh inning. He finished 3-for-5 with seven RBIs and two runs scored. The grand slam was the second of the year and the fifth home run overall for the Wildcats this season.

Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the third, Chris Cunningham and Marc Kaiser were retired on fly balls for the first two outs of the inning. Utah starter Doug Mackay, who wouldn't make it out of the inning, issued a pair of walks to Moises Duran and Richard Mercado. Hardy made Mackay pay with a two-run double to left, while opening the door for an eventual eight-run inning. All totaled, 11 Wildcat hitters came to bat in the inning as Arizona collected five hits and three walks.

Up 10-1, Little took over. From the fourth inning on, the sophomore did not allow a runner to advance past second until the seventh. The southpaw handled the Ute lineup to the tune of five hits, two runs, two walks and a career-high nine K's in seven innings pitched on the day. The victory was his second of the season and the sixth of his career. He has never tasted defeat on the mound while at Arizona, posting a perfect 6-0 record.

After lying dormant through the middle innings, Arizona's offense exploded for seven more runs in the seventh. Brad Hassey, who had singled through the right side with one out in the in the inning, came home courtesy of a wild pitch. The run opened the floodgates again, with Chris Cunningham plating Will Thompson and Brian Anderson on a one-out single and Hardy's two-out, grand slam blast capping the scoring on the day for the Wildcats.

The two schools meet for the final game of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Arizona will send Marc Kaiser to the mound in an attempt to sweep the second series of the season.

Notes: Senior Matt Wersel made his Wildcat debut, pitching a perfect ninth inning. The transfer from Pepperdine had not pitched competitively in college in nearly two years ... Of Arizona's 57 runs scored this year, 31 have come with two outs in an inning (54 percent) ... Sophomore Marc Kaiser has hit safely in all five games this season and in seven straight dating back to last year ... Arizona pitchers are averaging seven innings per start this year ... Little established career highs in strikeouts (9) and innings pitched (7) on Saturday ... In both of Arizona's blowout wins this year they have scored more runs than hits in the game ... The Wildcats were 3-for-3 in stolen bases on Saturday and are now 14-for-20 on the season.

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