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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA wins last game prior to Pac-10s

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona baseball team kept its winning streak alive on Wednesday with an 11-7 win over the University of New Mexico at Sancet Stadium. The Wildcats have now won 13 straight games in the month of March.

“”It beats the heck out of a 13-game losing streak,”” joked head coach Andy Lopez after the game.

The big blow fittingly came off the bat of number 13 Alex Mejia, who hit a grand slam in the third inning to give the Wildcats a 6-1 lead and put the game out of reach.

Despite hitting just .262 on the season, Mejia’s poise and leadership make up for the lack of thunder in his bat, according to Lopez.

“”I’ve had three umpires talk to me on a Sunday before the final game and say, ‘What year is your shortstop? He takes charge out there,'”” Lopez said. “”He’s got great presence, great makeup, he competes real well, so anything we get offensively is icing on the cake.””

Mejia joined the rest of the Arizona freshmen who have stepped up to keep the winning streak alive.

“”You don’t know what to expect from these guys, man,”” said senior Rafael Valenzuela of the contributions from freshmen. “”They come out here with a little swagger and attitude, and it’s been fun just watching them grow up.””

After getting off to a slow start offensively against the Lobos (14-9) in Tuesday’s win, Arizona’s bats picked up right where they left off at the end of that game by attacking New Mexico for five singles in the first inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

In the first start of his career, freshman Augey Bill pitched well enough to allow Arizona (18-4) to establish a big lead before he handed it over to the bullpen. The 6-foot-8 left-hander tossed three innings, allowing four hits while letting up three runs and striking out two.

Of the six pitchers who pitched in Wednesday’s win, five were freshmen. Tyler Hale and Nick Cunningham both pitched scoreless innings, and Cory Bernard closed the door on the Lobos in the ninth.

Sophomore Kyle Simon (4-2), who has pitched well of late after struggling in the early games, was awarded the victory after throwing up zeroes in three innings of work.

The grand slam off of Mejia’s bat was his first career home run. Many young teams might cheer loudly off the bench, or expect Mejia to celebrate his first deep fly as he rounded the bases.

But Mejia played it off like a veteran, while the rest of the Wildcat bench congratulated the freshman shortstop like he was expected to hit a grand slam, summarizing the attitude of this Arizona team.

It’s not expected that a team with 17 freshmen would run off a 13-game winning streak before conference play even begins, but Arizona has ignored the expectations that come with being young from the very beginning, and has stuck to simply playing baseball.

“”It’s a lot of fun to come out and play with these guys,”” said freshman Robert Refsnyder, who went 4-for-4 yesterday to raise his average to a team leading .475.

“”You should come out here expecting to win. We’ve been real business-like, and I think that’s really important to continue through the season,”” Refsnyder added.

That mindset has created an atmosphere where the Wildcats expect to win everyday, which becomes important as the “”second season”” of Pacific 10 Conference play begins Friday night against Oregon.

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