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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats withstand the Storm, win first game of super regional

A week after scoring 47 runs in three games in a regional series in which they only trailed in four innings, Arizona baseball took the field against St John’s. They withstood the Red Storm’s attack, coming from five down to win 7-6 in 10 innings.

“That was a great one to win, a tough one to lose,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “I thought they did a marvelous job.”

A pitcher’s battle ensued through three innings, as Arizona was not able to reach base aside from two walks, and St. John’s was only able to reach base on two singles.

In the fourth frame however, the Red Storm’s bat came alive, to the tune of seven hits and five runs.

The inning started with two back-to-back singles from shortstop Matt Wessinger and Frank Schwindel. Another single by catcher Jeremy Baltz starting a scoring run for St. John’s, who had the bases loaded with no one out, and had five straight RBI singles.

“I think they did a great job putting the ball in play,” Arizona pitcher Kurt Heyer said. “They executed a bunch of runs and were able to hit my mistakes. Early in the game, I was not finding the strike zone.”

St. John’s quieted the Wildcats’ potent attack thanks to an early three-inning domination by Red Storm starting pitcher Kyle Hansen. In the first three frames, Hansen did not give up a hit to Arizona, and retired seven of the nine batters he faced.

Almost on cue, Arizona’s bats reverted to last weekend’s form. After an Alex Mejia popout, a Robert Refsnyder walk put the Wildcats on the board following Bobby Brown’s RBI single, starting a slow climb back into the game stretching over the next two innings.

“It’s a club that doesn’t swing and miss a lot,” St. John’s head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “Everything they get, you have to allow them to earn. They can score runs in a bunch. We didn’t finish the deal, that was the problem.”

Refsnyder may have been the first on the board, but Arizona tied the score in the sixth thanks to the bottom of the lineup’s ability to get on base. Joe Maggi and Trent Gilbert both got on base with a double and a triple, respectively, and were driven home by Joey Rickard and Johnny Field.

After spotting five in the fourth, Arizona pitcher Kurt Heyer was brilliant, retiring nine of the next 10 batters he faced.

As customary, Heyer fought his way into the ninth inning for what would have been eight complete game of the season. He tired, as a result of his 129 tosses and 18 hits allowed, 17 of which were singles.

“You knew he was going to be in there,” Blankmeyer said. “Eighteen hits and we couldn’t get it done. We need to finish the job.”

In the ninth, Heyer gave up another run, off an RBI double by St. John’s Sean O’Hare, before being pulled in favor of reliever Matt Troupe. Heyer went 9 1/3 innings and got a no-decision.

In the 10th, down 6-5 in danger of falling to 0-1 in the series, the middle of the order came up big for Arizona. Refsnyder was walked for the second time and Brown smacked a ball into the outfield gap for an RBI that tied it up.

With the bases loaded and two out, Gilbert, who has the lowest batting average of the starting nine, stepped to the plate, and in the biggest situation of the season, hit a walk off single to right field, scoring Brown to win the game.

“I want to bat in that situation to get a chance to win the game for us,” Gilbert said. “It’s postseason, so you have to feed off that and try to have your best at bats right now.”

The Wildcats are one win away from their first berth in the College World Series since 2004 following Friday’s win. Sophomore Konner Wade will step onto the mound for Arizona today, but Hansen says the Red Storm will be prepared to fight.

“We just have to let this one go,” Hansen said. “We’ve been through this before. We just have to come out tomorrow with a clean slate.”

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