By Justin St. Germain
CHRYSTAL MCCONNELL/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona freshman infielder Brad Boyer gets picked off during the Wildcats' 12-7 loss yesterday at Sancet Field. The Wildcats, who trailed 6-2 in the ninth inning, tied the game at six in the bottom half of the inning, only to see the opportunity for a victory silenced in the 10th by a six-run Cardinal rally.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday May 5, 2003
The Arizona baseball team fell victim to another late-game implosion in yesterday's series finale against Cal, nullifying a ninth-inning Wildcat rally with a car wreck of a 10th inning that dashed any hopes of the season's first conference sweep.
"Every wheel that we had on our truck definitely fell off," head coach Andy Lopez said of the 12-7 defeat at Sancet Field. "I think even the spare came out of the trunk. They're all rolling down I-10 right now. It was a bad inning in every way, shape and form."
Yesterday's loss means that the Wildcats will not overtake Stanford for the Pacific-10 conference lead. The Cardinal beat Southern California on Saturday, 22-10, and in the first game of a doubleheader yesterday to take sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.
After scoring two runs through the first seven innings, Arizona (33-17, 11-7 Pac-10) pulled within one run on junior Brian Anderson's three-run homer in the eighth.
Junior reliever Mark Worrell blanked the Bears (26-24, 10-11) in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for a dramatic comeback. After freshman Nick Hundley singled to lead off the inning, John Hardy ¸ who had the lowest batting average of all starters at .254 ¸ became the unlikely hero with a two-out triple into the left-center field gap that plated Hundley and tied the game at 6-6.
But Hardy didn't have much time to savor his clutch hit. With runners on second and third in the top of the 10th, Hardy and second baseman Moises Duran stared at each other as a routine popup fell behind second base, scoring a run and putting Cal ahead for good.
The sophomore shortstop gamely took the blame for the miscommunication.
"I can make excuses and everything, but as the shortstop I've got to catch that ball," Hardy said.
His coach, a former shortstop himself, had a different take on the game's critical miscue.
"I think that (ball) was (Duran's), and I think if you asked him he'd say that," Lopez said. "If that play's hit a thousand times, that play is made 999 of them."
Things only got worse for the Arizona defense from there. Hardy committed another error with a Cal runner in a rundown, allowing another run to score.
The Bears then capitalized on the extra out from the dropped pop fly with a sacrifice fly to center, a solo homer, and an RBI triple and RBI double to push the lead to 12-6.
The Wildcats closed out the scoring with a lone run in the bottom of the inning.
Anderson led the UA offense with a 2-for-5 performance, with 3 RBIs coming on the aforementioned dinger. Hundley also paired hits in the game.
Reliever John Meloan (4-1) picked up the loss with one inning of relief, allowing six runs, all unearned, on five hits and walking one. Joe Little pitched 4.2 innings in the start, allowing three runs.
Cal reliever Travis Talbot (3-1) notched the win.
Saturday night, junior Sean Rierson (8-1) gave the beleaguered bullpen the night off with his third complete game of the season in a 10-4 Wildcat win. Rierson gave up three runs on six hits and struck out six.
Arizona began the series on Friday night with a 9-5 win that saw staff ace Richie Gardner (8-1) take a no-hitter into the sixth inning before surrendering a solo home run to Cal's Conor Jackson.
Gardner still took home the win with a seven-inning performance in which he gave up three hits and three runs and posted 9 K's.
This year's team broke the 1986 UA squad's Pac-10 triples record on freshman Trevor Crowe's third-inning three-bagger, the team's 44th.
Lopez said that he was happy with his team's overall weekend performance, despite the sloppy Sunday play.
"It's not realistic for me to think we're going to go 56-0 and 24-0 in this conference," he said. "I told this club at the beginning of the year, ╬If we can go two out of three every weekend, we'll win the conference.'"
Arizona will take a weeklong break for finals before welcoming Oregon State May 17-19.