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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA’s Heyer submits classic performance in super regional win

Friday’s start for Kurt Heyer’s isn’t very pretty in the box score — in fact it’s a little ugly, but the junior’s last ever start at Hi Corbett Field is one that head coach Andy Lopez said he’ll never forget.

“A real courageous performance by Heyer,” Lopez said.

“What (Heyer) did after the fourth inning, honestly, was unbelievably impressive,” he added.

In the first of Arizona’s Super Regional games against St. John’s, Heyer went 9.1 innings and gave up 17 hits, six earned runs and only struck out four in a no-decision.

He was hit early and often by the Red Storm, and after a five-run fourth inning, it looked like the Wildcats’ workhorse might have a short outing.

St. John’s started the fourth with five straight singles and Heyer only got out of the inning thanks to a base running mistake by Red Storm’s Bret Dennis who got caught in a run down and was eventually tagged out at second.

It wasn’t just a couple missed pitches. The Red Storm was able to get hit after hit against Heyer, but they only one of their 18 hits went for an extra base.

Lopez stuck with Heyer, and the second-team All-American settled down, keeping the score manageable as the offense battled back to eventually win 7-6 in extra innings.

“We had (Heyer) on a rope,” St. John’s head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “(But) I think that kid would have pitched forever, he’s a gutsy kid.”

“You’ve got to give that kid credit,” Blankmeyer added. “(He does) nothing fancy, just competes.”

Heyer threw 129 pitches Friday and yet he still had to be dragged off the mound by Lopez in the tenth inning. After a dismal fourth inning it would have been hard to believe Heyer would still be pitching in a tenth inning.

“In this part of the season you can’t get tired,” Heyer said.

With Arizona’s walk-off win in the bottom of the tenth, the Wildcats sit just a win away from Omaha — and Heyer’s determination and grit put them there.

Lopez only had to use reliever Mathew Troupe for the final two outs of the ballgame, keeping the Arizona bullpen fresh in case they are needed later in the series.

While Heyer took responsibility for not throwing strikes early on in the game, he credited the St. John’s offense for his early-inning struggles.

“If you took away that fourth inning, I’d be happy,” Heyer said. “Lopez told me it was a gutsy performance (and) usually most pitchers would fold. But I wanted to keep my team in that position where they could scratch a few runs across.”

“They got their hits,” Heyer added. “But I’m just happy my defense was able to pick me up in clutch situations.”

The Arizona defense was strong all game, turning three double-plays on the day including one in the top of the ninth that negated a potential go-ahead run by the Red Storm.

Despite that, the defense wasn’t infallible — a misplayed grounder and a passed ball put St. John’s Frank Schwindel on second in the tenth inning. Schwindel eventually scored on a double by Sean O’Hare, forcing Heyer to exit his last home start in his UA career.

Heyer was selected in the sixth round by St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday and while his status is unsure, he could leave the UA once the season ends.

While the start wasn’t perfect, the performance was a perfect example of Heyer’s value to the team.
Thanks to some late game heroics by freshman Trent Gilbert and the Wildcat offense, Heyer’s last home start had a fairy-tale ending.

“I’m just really happy that they offense was able to fight back because if we did lose I would have put this all on me,” Heyer said. “I think I could have done a better job early in the game.”

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