Baseball NCAA South Bend Regional Final Notes
June 5, 2004
Kent State Recap
The Wildcats overcame a disastrous four-run seventh inning to advance to its first postseason regional final in 11 years with a 7-4 win over Kent State in the winner's bracket of the South Bend Regional on Saturday. Freshman Jason Donald scored the game-winning run from second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh on a single by teammate Richard Mercado. Donald bounced back to score the winning run after committing a costly error on potential double play ball in the top of the inning that helped lead to three KSU runs. The Wildcats tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to move on to their first regional championship since 1993. Freshman reliever Mark Melancon picked up the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. UA starter Kevin Guyette did not factor in the decision despite giving up just two earned runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Notes From The Kent State Game
The game marked the first ever meeting between the two schools ... The win bumped Arizona's nonconference record to 20-12-1 for year ... Arizona improved to 8-2 all-time against teams from the Mid-American Conference with the victory and 3-0 against MAC schools in the postseason (2-0 vs. Eastern Michigan, 1-0 vs. KSU) ... The win was Arizona's fifth in its last six games ... Junior Richard Mercado scored Jason Donald with the game-winning run with his team-best fourth RBI of the postseason ... The Wildcats went hitless over the first 3 1/3 innings against the Golden Flashes, but still managed to put four runners on base ... Pitchers Kevin Guyette and Mark Melancon combined to end Chad Kinyon's 21-game hitting streak. Kinyon finished the game 0 for 4 with a RBI and a run scored ... Melancon improved to 5-4 for the year with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. The victory was the first for the freshman right-hander since April 3 at Oregon State (Nine appearances) ... Sophomore Trevor Crowe improved to 23 for 24 for the year in stolen base with a pair of swipes against the Golden Flashes on Saturday.
UC Irvine Recap
The Wildcats opened the 2004 postseason with a 7-3 win over UC Irvine at Eck Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Arizona rapped out 10 hits in the game, including two doubles and two home runs, to snap a three-game winless streak (2 losses, 1 tie) against the Anteaters. The Wildcats scored two runs in the first before UCI tied the game with a pair of scores in the third. Arizona's Derek Decater (2 for 4, HR, RBI, R) snapped the tie in the fourth with a solo home run to right and sophomore classmate Jordan Brown (2 for 5, HR, 2 R, RBI) added another solo shot in the fifth to extend the lead to 4-2. The Wildcats tacked on three runs in the top of the seventh and weathered numerous UCI scoring threats to open the postseason with a victory. Junior Koley Kolberg picked up his team-leading ninth win of the year with six innings of work. He gave up just a pair of runs on six hits while striking out three and walking four. Senior Scott Burns worked the final three innings for his third career save.
Notes From the UC Irvine Game
The win improved Arizona to 6-6-1 against Big West Conference teams ... Derek Decater's home run was his first since April 28, 2003, when he hit a pair of homers at Sacramento State ... Decater entered the game just 1 for his last 21 and was 0 for 16 in Arizona's final six games of the regular season ... Decater, an outstanding defensive outfielder, committed his first error of the season in the third inning and just his third career fielding miscue in 130 chances ( a .977 fielding percentage) ... Brad Boyer's RBI double in the seventh inning was hit first hit since April 16 against UT Pan American. Heading into the pinch-hit at bat he was 0 for his last 17 ... Irvine's Brett Smith defeated the Wildcats earlier this season after limiting the Wildcats to just one run on six hits in a 3-1 victory ... Jordan Brown extended his hitting streak to five-straight games with a 2 for 5-night at the plate ... Brown's solo home run in the fifth was his third in the last two games and his team-leading 11th of the year ... Trevor Crowe and Nick Hundley each saw their four-game hitting streaks come to an end ... Arizona improved to 24-11-1 for the year when recording multiple hits in a game.
Opening Game Victory
The Arizona baseball team opened the postseason with a victory for the first time since defeating Eastern Kentucky in the 1989 West I Regional in Tucson. The four other Arizona postseason teams since then (1992, '93, '99, 2003) all opened their respective regional appearances with losses. The 1992, 1999 and 2003 teams did not win a game during the postseason, while the 1993 team lost its opening round game to Auburn 9-1 before rallying through the loser's bracket to advance to the regional championship game against Oklahoma State. The victory improved Arizona's NCAA opening game record to 16-15.
It's Been A While
The year of 1993 keeps popping for the Arizona baseball program. That season, 11 years ago when current Arizona head coach Andy Lopez was defending his national championship at Pepperdine, marked the last time the Wildcats had advanced to the postseason in back-to-back years since this season and last. It was also was the last time Arizona took two consecutive series against Pac-10 powerhouses Stanford and USC before beating the Cardinal and the Men of Troy two games to one in each of the last two seasons. Well, it's time to add two more 'first since 1993' for the Wildcats. Friday's 7-3 victory over UC Irvine was the first postseason win for the UA program since defeating Oklahoma State 4-0 on May 31, 1993 and the 7-4 win over Kent State moved Arizona into its first regional final game since 1993.
First NCAA Victories Under Coach Lopez
The Wildcats' pair of wins over UC Irvine and Kent State were the first for two Arizona under head coach Andy Lopez. In just the third season under his direction, the Wildcats are making their second straight trip to the postseason, a feat that was last accomplished by a UA team in the 1992-93 seasons. The wins improved Lopez's all-time NCAA record to 32-25 and his postseason record at Arizona to 2-2.
Latest Game Won
The victory on Saturday against Kent State was the latest win in a calendar year for the Wildcats since the 1986 team won its third game in Omaha 9-5 over Florida State on June 6.
Doing It With Two
The Wildcats have scored six of their 14 postseason runs with two outs in an inning. Junior Richard Mercado has led the way as all four of his postseason RBI have come after the first two outs have been recorded in an inning (3 against UCI, 1 vs. KSU).
Postseason Odds and Ends
Jordan Brown has extended his hitting streak to six straight games with at least one base knock in two postseason games ... The Wildcats are batting .284 as a team in the first two games and pitching staff has recorded a 2.50 ERA and opponents are batting just .246 against them ... All though freshmen SS Jason Donald and RHP Mark Melancon, junior RHP Koley Kolberg, sophomore RHP Kevin Guyette and senior RHP Scott Burns are all making their first career postseason appearances this season, all five have contributed to the Wildcats' success thus far. Donald scored the game-winning run against Kent State, while Kolberg (UC Irvine) and Melancon (KSU) each won a game on the mound and Burns (UCI) earned a save. Guyette pitched very well against KSU, but did not earn a decision ... Nine of the 10 Arizona players that have at least one plate appearance in the postseason have collected at least one hit. Junior John Hardy is the lone Wildcat still looking for a base knock ... Arizona is a perfect 4 for 4 in stolen bases in two games ... Arizona opponents have committed seven total errors in two games and are fielding at a .903 clip.
Notes Of Interest
Mark Melancon has made 25 appearances on the mound for the Wildcats this season, the second-most for any freshman in school history (Tony Sulser, 27 in 2001) ... Jason Donald's 57 games played are the seventh-most for a freshman at Arizona ... Junior John Hardy has played in 112 straight games for Arizona, including 51 consecutive starts ... Koley Kolberg's nine wins this season tie him with last year's team leaders Richie Gardner and Sean Rierson ... Kevin Guyette tied Scott Erickson for the third-most starts in a season in school history on Saturday
It's Been Do-Or-Die For A While
The pressures of coming through in the clutch, where every hit or pitch or catch matters, generally come with the territory during the postseason. For the Wildcats that pressure has been on for the better part of a month. After getting swept in a three-game series at Washington in Seattle on April 23-25, the Wildcats were teetering at 21-18-1 overall and 5-7 in the Pac-10. The final five weeks of the regular season therefore became almost a must-win situation and a postseason-like atmosphere every time UA took the field . The resilient Wildcats responded to the call to qualify for the postseason with a 9-6 stretch-run record and in doing so prepared themselves for the trials and tribulations of the NCAA's.
Wildcats and Fighting Irish Square Off Again
The meeting between Arizona and Notre Dame in the regional finals will mark the second straight season the two have met in the postseason. Notre Dame defeated Arizona 13-5 in the opening game of the Fullerton Regional in California last season. The win was the first-ever for the Fighting Irish over Arizona in the all-time series (UA leads 5-2). UND also bested Arizona 4-2 in Round Rock, Texas, earlier this season at the Round Rock College Classic.
Arizona-Notre Dame Common Opponents
In addition to having met up with each other in Texas earlier this season, Notre Dame and Arizona shared three common opponents this year.
Opponent Arizona Notre DameUSC 2-1 1-0Penn State 1-0 2-0Kent State 1-0 1-1Combined Record 4-1 4-1
Big John Meloan
Arizona will throw right-handed sophomore John Meloan against the Fighting Irish on Sunday ... The big 6-foot-3 Houston, Texas, native is a perfect 8-0 on the mound this season with a 4.89 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched ... As a starter this season, Meloan is 7-0 with a 4.05 ERA and 48 Ks in eight starts and 60 innings pitched ... He has worked six or more innings in all eight of his starts this season ... He tossed two-hit complete game against UCLA on May 9 ... For his career, Meloan is 12-1 overall in 35 appearances.
Meloan's Starting Numbers vs. Bullpen Numbers in 2004Stat Starts Bullpen SeasonGames 8 7 15Record 7-0 1-0 8-0ERA 4.05 9.90 4.89IP 60.0 10.0 70.0H 61 15 76R 31 12 43ER 27 11 38BB 24 8 32K 48 7 55
Meloan's Career Starting Numbers (2003 and 2004)10 GS, 8-0, 3.75 ERA, 69.2 IP, 54 H, 34 R, 29 ER, 29 BB, 53 K
Meloan's 2004 AppearancesFeb. 7 UC Riverside W - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 KFeb 15 CS Fullerton ND - 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 KFeb. 22 UC Irvine ND - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 KFeb. 28 at Baylor ND - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 KMar. 7 Sac State ND - 0.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 KMar. 19 at Long Beach St. ND - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 KMar. 27 Washington State ND - 1.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 KApr. 10 UCLA * W - 8.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 KApr. 16 UT Pan Am * W - 8.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 10 KApr. 25 at Washington * ND - 7.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 9 KMay 1 at Cal * W - 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 KMay 9 at UCLA * W - 9.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 KMay 17 Stanford * W - 8.0 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 KMay 23 Arizona State * W - 6.1 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 KMay 30 at USC * W - 7.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 3 K*Denotes Starts
Driving Them In
Heading into the season, Arizona's offense was thought to be the main driving force that would make the Wildcats go. A number of slow starts by key individuals and a propensity for leaving runners on base and, more importantly, in scoring position caused the Wildcats to be somewhat inconsistent with the bats. The last five series of the regular season changed all that. Since UA's three-game trip to Cal on April 30-May 2 the Wildcats have posted very similar offensive numbers in its last 17 game to its first 40 with the exception of three major differences. Arizona is averaging better than two more RBIs and runs per game now then earlier in the year and almost more than a home run more per game.
The Last 17 Games vs. The First 40 Last 17 First 40Avg. .310 .307Runs 148 (8.7) 259 (6.5)Hits 185 (10.9) 427(10.7)2Bs 37 (2.2) 68 (1.7)3Bs 5 (0.3) 25 (0.6)HRs 25 (1.6) 30 (0.8)RBI 138 (8.1) 230 (5.8)Numbers in () are per game averages
Starting It Off
Arizona's Trevor Crowe and Jeff Van Houten, the No. 1 and 2 hitters in the Wildcat order, have been producing runs at a steady rate. Crowe has scored at least one run in 10 of UA's last 13 games, including five with two or more runs scored, for a total of 20 runs scored and a .very impressive .500 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, Van Houten has crossed home at least once in 15 of Arizona's last 18 contests, including six games with two or more runs, for a total of 24 during the 18-game span and a .456 on base percentage.