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Duncan blasts two and wins game in ninth

By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 11, 1999
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Randy Metcalf
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman outfielder Shelley Duncan (18) rounds first and steals second base in yesterday's game against UNLV at Frank Sancet Field. The Wildcats won 12-11 on Duncan's bases-clearing double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

One thing is for certain about this year's Arizona baseball team, the Wildcats don't give up without a fight.

No. 21-ranked Arizona (11-0) once again squeaked out a one-run victory over the UNLV Runnin' Rebels (2-3) at Frank Sancet Field yesterday, 12-11.

Freshman right fielder Shelley Duncan played the role of hero, homering twice to give him six on the season and driving in three runs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Wildcats the victory.

Duncan came in to pitch in the top of the ninth to relieve junior pitcher Dave Abbott. After getting UNLV's Ryan Ludwick to fly out to center field, Duncan gave up three singles and three runs, helping the Rebels to an 11-8 lead going into the Wildcats' half of the ninth inning.

"Well, what can you say about Shelley? He came in and just about loses the game on the mound and then comes in again to win it at the plate," UA head coach Jerry Stitt said.

The bottom of the ninth did not start the way the Wildcats would have liked it to with freshman Ben Diggins, who came in as a pinch hitter, striking out.Junior catcher Dennis Anderson then doubled and was replaced by Tuesday's hero, freshman Kelsey Osburn. Senior second baseman Andy Juday then picked up his second single and fourth hit of the game, moving Osburn to third.

Junior center fielder Troy Gingrich loaded the bases with a single, followed by a sacrifice fly RBI by sophomore shortstop Keoni DeRenne.

"I was just trying to hit the ball up the middle and get on base," Gingrich said. "I knew I had to get on base because I was the tying run."

Sophomore pinch-hitter Brad Fendley then walked and Duncan sent him home with a double out to right field.

Duncan's double cleared the bases giving the Wildcat's their 11th win of the season.

"I just tried to get a hit, or just see the ball, swing and hit it well," Duncan said. "I don't know how I hit it to right field, I never do that."

Stitt also commented on Duncan's adjustments at the plate.

"At first he wasn't making his adjustments, but now he is. He is seeing the ball and knows how many balls he is hitting," he said. "When he hit his second home run, I couldn't believe they pitched to him. I would have given him four balls and let him take the base, but they threw him a split finger and he went with it."

The Wildcats and Rebels started the scoring early as the balls were flying out of Sancet Field due to the 20 mph winds.

The first pitch of the game thrown by UA junior Mike Crawford was hit over the right field fence by UNLV third baseman Clay Belding.

The Rebels then scored two more in the second inning as right fielder Nate Kaup homered.

UA got on board in the bottom half of the second with junior left fielder Rafell Jones' first home run of the season.

All in all, there were five home runs and eight errors in the game. UNLV starting pitcher Bryan Gidge committed two in the bottom of the first.

"There were a lot of negative ions floating around this game. It was ridiculous," Stitt said. "But the guys just keep playing hard. We didn't play well today, but we played hard and that is good."

Tomorrow the Wildcats will take on No. 14-ranked Texas A&M, whom Stitt sees as one of the best teams in the country.

"It is early on in the year and A&M is one of the best in the country. I think they have a legitimate shot at the national championship this year," he said.