Cats Rally In 9th To Sweep Cougars

April 18, 2010

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TUCSON, Ariz. – The No. 21 Arizona baseball team rallied with four runs on four hits in the ninth inning, including Rafael Valenzuela’s game-winning single with two outs, to win 12-11 and complete a series sweep of Washington State on Sunday afternoon at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.

With the Wildcats trailing 11-8 entering the bottom of the ninth and facing left hand pitcher Adam Conley, Steve Selsky chopped an unassuming single through the left side of the infield. Robert Refsnyder followed with a single to right, and Selsky was able to score all the way from first base as the ball rolled under the glove of WSU right fielder Derek Jones. Bobby Rinard drove in Refsnyder, who advanced to third on the previous error, and suddenly Arizona trailed by just one run at 11-10.

Seth Mejias-Brean reignited the rally with a single as he represented the tying run. After a line by Alex Mejia, the Wildcats were suddenly down to their final out when they called on Cory Bernard to pinch hit for Jacob Meskin. Bernard delivered with a single up the middle – the first hit of his career –  to move Mejias-Brean to second base.

Joey Rickard tied the game with a single to right field as Mejias-Brean scored and Ethan Chavez, who was inserted to pinch run for Bernard, advanced all the way to third base. Valenzuela then delivered the game-winning single, a liner to left field as Chavez came in to score.

Arizona (26-9, 7-5 Pac-10) seemed to be poised for the series sweep much earlier in the game, but the Cougars stormed back from a three-run deficit and ultimately took a three-run lead.

The Wildcats held a 7-4 lead in the fifth inning when Matt Argyropoulos hit a two-run home run off UA reliever Joe Allison. The teams traded single runs in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, leaving the Wildcats with an 8-7 lead after six innings.

Washington State (19-14, 3-6 Pac-10) surged ahead in the top of the eighth inning as it scored three runs off UA relievers Tyler Hale and Nick Cunningham. The big hit came from Jones, who hit a two-run triple off Cunningham to put the Cougars ahead by a run. Jones scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Fanell and the Cougars led 10-8.

Vincent Littleman took over in the ninth inning for the Wildcats and, despite giving up a solo home run to Cody Bartlett, which put the Cougars on top 11-8, earned his second victory thanks to the rally in the home half of the inning.

The Cougars led 3-0 after an inning and a half, but the Wildcats knocked out WSU starter Spencer Johnson with five runs in the bottom half of the second frame. Arizona collected four hits in the inning, including a two-run double by Jett Bandy.

Bryce Bandilla started for the Wildcats, but lasted just 2.0 innings after allowing four runs on four hits. Allison took over in the third and pitched 3.1 innings as he gave up three runs – two earned.

Arizona added two runs in the fourth innings and a single run in the fifth to lead 8-6 after six innings.

The Wildcats collected 17 hits in the game and had six players with two or more hits, while three had two RBI. Nine different players scored a run as the Wildcats won their first game in eight tries when trailing after eight innings of play.

Arizona will step away from Pac-10 conference action to play a non-conference road game against league and intrastate rival Arizona State, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, on Tuesday, April 20. The game, which is the first of two non-conference games between the schools this season, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Tempe, Ariz.


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