Baseball Rallies To Defeat UC Irvine In 10 Innings

Feb. 23, 2002

TUCSON, Ariz.- Sometimes in baseball you get a chance at redemption. Arizona's Brad Hassey was afforded that luxury today in UA's 7-6, 10-inning victory over UC Irvine at Frank Sancet Field. The senior shortstop drove home the winning run for the Wildcats with two outs in the bottom of the tenth with a single up the middle that scored Ken Riley from third.

The hit was clutch considering that prior to collecting his second base knock of the day Hassey had committed four errors in the field, been picked off second by the catcher with one out in the seventh and thrown out at the plate with what would have been the winning run in the ninth.

Hassey's heroics helped Arizona to its 13th win of the season and gave Wildcats' skipper Andy Lopez his 700th career coaching victory. The loss dropped UC Irvine to 8-7 overall.

Arizona (13-4) got on the board first in the bottom of third. After Clayton Bried bunted for a single to lead off, he moved all the way around to third on UCI's starter Sean Tracey's failed pick off attempt at first. Hassey plated his classmate with a RBI ground out to give Arizona the early 1-0 advantage.

UCI countered in the top of the fifth on Steve Guthrie's first home run of the season, a solo shot that evened the score a 1-1.

The Wildcats responded with their second run in the fifth. Freshman John Hardy snapped a 0-for-18 slump with a double down the left field line, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Bried's single to right.

Guthrie tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth with his second solo shot of the day off of UA starter Joe Little. Guthrie finished the day 2-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

The Wildcats retook the lead with three runs in the seventh on Justyn St. Clair's sacrifice fly and Hassey's one-out, two-RBI double that scored Hardy and Will Thompson. However, UCI fought back with two runs in the eighth off of reliever Matt Wersel and one in the ninth off of closer Tony Sulser to knot the score for the third time in the game at five runs apiece.

The Anteaters scored a lone run in the top of the 10th off a couple of Wildcat defensive miscues. Designated hitter Brett Smith drew a one-out walk to start the trouble for Arizona. Sulser hit outfielder Erik Johnson with the very next pitch to place runners on first and second.

Jordan Szabo came on to pinch run for Smith at second and scored the go-ahead run when Hassey had trouble fielding Jon Horwitz's one-out ground ball.

Down, but not out, Arizona scored two in the bottom half of the inning to steal the win. Freshman Richard Mercado singled to center to lead off the inning and begin the Arizona rally. Pinch runner Pat Reilly replaced Mercado at first and advanced to second on Greg Powers' sacrifice bunt. Ken Riley, who came on as a pinch hitter, plated Reilly with a one-out triple to center, tying the score for the fourth and final time.

After an intentional walk to Hardy, Justyn St. Clair fouled out to first base for the second out of the inning, paving the way for Hassey's shot at redemption. The second-year starter drove UCI reliever Keith Raluinaitis' 0-2 pitch up the middle, plating Riley for the game winning run.

Sulser evened his record at 1-1 with the win, while Raluinaitis fell to 0-1.

The two schools will meet for the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. Arizona's Marc Kaiser will face UCI's Brett Smith on the mound.

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