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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats take 2 of 3 at Riverside

    JAKE LACEY

Baseball vs Cal State Fullerton. Sunday.
    Jake Lacey
    JAKE LACEY Baseball vs Cal State Fullerton. Sunday.

    MEN’S BASEBALL VS. RIVERSIDE

    Down 5-3 with two outs in the sixth inning of their rubber match with University of California-Riverside, the Arizona baseball team needed a spark.

    With the bases loaded with Wildcats, freshman right fielder Jon Gaston walked to push junior catcher Konrad Schmidt across the plate and cut the Highlanders lead to 5-4. But it wasn’t until senior third baseman Brad Boyer stepped to the plate that Arizona found its igniter.

    Driving a 1-1 pitch from Highlanders redshirt sophomore lefty Dan Runzler to left, Boyer scored freshman first baseman Brad Glenn and freshman centerfielder T.J. Steele, and gave Arizona its second lead of the game at 6-5.

    “”That’s something where I love to be in those situations, where it’s heat of the moment,”” Boyer said. “”It’s something that I really thrive on.””

    The Wildcats (4-2) would go on to add five more in the ninth and cruise to an 11-5 victory over the Highlanders (4-3) at Riverside Sports Complex.

    Arizona and Riverside split the first two games of the weekend, with the Highlanders taking the Friday game, 8-5, and the Wildcats rebounding on Saturday, 4-2.

    If Boyer, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, provided the spark in yesterday’s sixth, freshman center fielder T.J. Steele opened the throttle the whole way for Arizona in the top half of the ninth, when his second triple of the year scored senior left fielder Derek Decater and pinch-runner Hunter Pace, a freshman outfielder.

    Steele himself motored the entire way around the bases as well when Riverside sophomore third baseman Aaron Wible was charged with an error, allowing the Tucson native to extend the Wildcat lead to four, 9-5.

    “”I was just happy we won the game, so it doesn’t really matter for me, but as a team, it was good that … we got the win,”” Steele said.

    Arizona had 13 hits on the day in all, three of which came from Glenn, while four other Wildcats had at least two hits. On top of that, six Wildcat batters were hit by pitches in the game, tying a school record.

    Furthermore, the bullpen continued to be a strong point for Arizona, as it worked 11 2/3 solid innings over the weekend – including four scoreless in yesterday’s win – and outside of freshman pitcher Preston Guilmet, didn’t allow a run in the series.

    One member of that bullpen, junior closer Mark Melancon (1-0), will be moved into a Friday starting role next week. He made his case over the weekend as he pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings Saturday, striking out five while allowing two hits and walking one in picking up his first win of the season.

    “”We’ll see how it goes, we still have a month and a half before Pac-10 play, so it’s a not a situation that’s in cement,”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “”Mark Melancon deserves to be a Friday night guy, and he pitched like a Friday night guy on Saturday in relief, so we’ll go that route.””

    Redshirt freshman lefty Daniel Schlereth made a case of his own over the weekend, only his was to replace Melancon in the closer’s role. Working 3 2/3 innings over the weekend, he surrendered only two hits, and yesterday he struck out five of the nine batters he faced en route to his second save of the season.

    “”Daniel’s done a great job in the pen, so we’re going to leave him in that closing role, and let him run there for a while and see if he can continue to do a good job with that thing,”” Lopez said. “”So far, so good.””

    Added Steele: “”Schlereth is the man at this point. He’s dominating.””

    As part of the switch in rotation, former Friday starter Eric Berger, a sophomore left-hander, will be moved to Saturday.

    “”It’s not necessarily that Eric Berger has done anything poor, it’s just that we really need a little bit more of a performance on Friday night,”” Lopez said. “”Mark has been here in the program for three years, so he deserves it.””

    The Sunday spot has yet to be determined, Lopez said, but it will come down to freshman righty Mike Colla and junior lefty Brad Mills, who picked up the win in his first career start yesterday.

    “”They both deserve to pitch in that spot, but only one can do that,”” Lopez said.

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