Baseball Downs Southern Utah, 11-8

Feb. 5, 2002

TUCSON, Ariz.- The Wildcat baseball team pounded out 13 hits, including four home runs, in UA's 11-8 win over Southern Utah, Tuesday afternoon at Frank Sancet Field. The victory completed a two game sweep over the Thunderbirds and improved Arizona's record to 7-1 for the season.

Four different Wildcat hitters launched balls into the stiff wind blowing straight out to centerfield. Brad Hassey, Chris Cunningham, Jeff Van Houten and John Hardy all hit their second home run of the season as Arizona answered every Thunderbird attempt to steal the win.

SUU jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead off of Wildcat starter Will Miller in the top of the first on a RBI single by Tom Ford. Arizona responded in kind with four runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame.

Hassey led off the inning with a sharp single to left. His stay on the bases was short, as Van Houten homered over the left field wall in the next at bat to give Arizona a 2-1 lead. One out later, Cunningham went yard for the second consecutive day, smashing James Anderson's offering over the right field wall for a solo home run and a 3-1 Wildcat advantage.

Freshman Richard Mercado extended the inning with an infield single and came around to score after Moises Duran doubled to left and Kurtis Yocum's throw missed its mark on the relay for an error.

The Thunderbirds cut the lead to 4-2 in the top of the second on Jared Meek's home run to center field, but Arizona answered again with a run of its own on Hassey's solo shot to left.

Southern Utah posted four runs in the top of the third on a bases loaded, three RBI double by Meek and a Yocum RBI single to take a 6-5 lead.

The Wildcats evened the score in the bottom of the fourth on Hardy's lead off, solo shot to left, but fell behind again in the top of the fifth on Yocum's RBI single to left.

The persistent Wildcats tied the score in the bottom half of the inning when Cunningham, who had tripled to right-center with two outs, came home on Mercado's single to right.

Arizona took the lead for good with a two run seventh. Cunningham found himself on second after SUU's Tom Ford dropped his towering fly ball for a two base error. Mercado, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the game, made the Thunderbirds pay, plating Cunningham for the second time in the game with his third single of the day. The freshman designated hitter proceeded to manufacture his way home on a wild pitch and a throwing error by T-Bird catcher Chris Nelson.

Southern Utah added another run in the top of the eighth to cut the lead to 9-8, but the Wildcats iced the game with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.

Senior Matt Wersel, Arizona's third pitcher of the day, earned the win with 1.2 innings of work. He gave up one earned run, walked one and struck out one for his first win as an Arizona Wildcat. Tony Sulser pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the season.

Of Arizona's 13 hits, eight went for extra bases, including the four home runs. Mercado's 3-for-4, two run and three RBI effort was followed closely by Cunningham's 2-for-4, four run and one RBI outing and Hardy's 3-for-5, two RBI day.

The Wildcats will take a one day break in their nine games in 10 days stretch before returning to action on Thursday with the opening game of a three game series against San Diego State. First pitch against the Aztecs is slated for 3 p.m. with Sean Rierson the scheduled starter for the Wildcats.

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