Cats Claw Back, Top Bears, 7-6
March 13, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. – It was not pretty, but the Arizona baseball team extended its winning streak to five games as it defeated Northern Colorado, 7-6, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
The Wildcats trailed, 5-4, entering the bottom of the eighth inning, but a pair of infield hits sparked a three-run inning.
In the eighth, Alex Mejia singled up the middle, but Northern Colorado second baseman TJ Berge kept the ball on the infield and was unable to throw out Mejia at first. Bryce Ortega then put down a perfect bunt single to third base, which put runners at first and second.
UNC’s Forbes Scott then walked Joey Rickard to load the bases, before he was lifted in favor of Brendan Hall, who threw a wild pitch, which allowed Mejia to score with the tying run.
Hall then walked Valenzuela to re-load the bases and walked in the go-ahead run as Jett Bandy reached base. The Bears then turned to Kris Vierra, who walked in a third run of the inning, which spotted the Wildcats with a 7-5 lead.
Arizona threatened to add more as the bases remained loaded, but Bobby Brown grounded into a double play which cut down another possible run at the plate. Robert Refsnyder grounded out to end the inning.
Tyler Hale entered in the ninth inning for the Wildcats, who were without a save on the season. Despite a run allowed on two hits, Hale earned the first save of his career as the Wildcats held on to win, 7-6.
The Bears jumped on UA starter Daniel Workman for two runs in the second inning and were poised for more until the Wildcats called on Kyle Simon to appear in relief. Simon, who had four starts on the season, was able to induce an inning-ending double play with one out and runners at the corners.
Workman lasted just 1.1 innings and allowed five hits, but Simon was steady in relief giving the Wildcats a chance to claw back.
Rickard, who scored a pair of runs in the game, singled and stole second base to lead off the third inning for the Wildcats. He came in to score on a Rafael Valenzuela RBI single. After stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error by catcher Seth Budde, Valenzeula came in to tie the game at 2-2 on a double play groundout by Steve Selsky.
Northern Colorado scored an unearned run in fifth after a pair of UA errors. The Wildcats re-tied the game at 3-3 in the home half of the inning, and nearly took the lead.
With runners at second and third with two outs, Bobby Brown singled to left field, which scored Ortega. Bandy appeared to score from second as he slid into home plate ahead of a tag, but was ruled out on the play, which left the game tied, 3-3.
The visiting Bears kept the pressure on the Wildcats in the sixth inning as they scored two more runs – both unearned. Two more Arizona errors helped to plate the runs, and Simon was forced from the game.
Despite leaving the game with the Wildcats trailing 5-3, Simon pitched 4.1 innings in relief with two strikeouts. All three runs allowed were unearned as he surrendered just two hits and one walk.
From there, the Wildcat bullpen clamped down against the Bears, as Augey Bill replaced Simon and got out of the sixth inning with no further damage. Stephen Manthei and Nick Cunningham each pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth frames.
Trailing 5-3, Arizona plated a single run in the bottom of the sixth. Refsnyder, who finished 3-for-5 in the game, doubled to left to open the frame and came into score on a Seth Mejias-Brean RBI groundout, cutting the deficit to 5-4.
The win was UA’s fourth in its last at-bat of a game, and the Wildcats improved to 4-1 in games decided by one run on the season.
The Wildcats won despite a season-high four errors, unusually poor base running, and 11 runners left on base.
Arizona (10-4) will try for its second weekend sweep of the season as it hosts the Bears (3-7) in the series finale on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for Noon at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.