Angry Wildcats sweep trash-talking Matadors
It took a near brawl to bring out some fight in the UA baseball team.
The Wildcats (25-25) took all three games against Cal State Northridge this weekend at Sancet Field, bringing their season-high winning streak to four games.
The three-game series against the Matadors was highlighted by a near-brawl between the two teams yesterday, as the Wildcats prevailed 8-7.
The Wildcats were trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning when sophomore designated hitter Ben Diggins lined out to CSUN's pitcher. The Matador pitcher, left-hander Bill Murphy, snapped the ball in his glove and appeared to offer a few words toward Diggins as he threw the ball to first base.
"He obviously doesn't know how rich Benny's gonna be," said junior first baseman Ernie Durazo, referring to Diggins' likely entry into June's Amateur Draft.
Durazo, the next batter, hit a solo home run to center field. It was his third of the weekend.
The following hitter, junior third baseman Erik Torres, was hit two pitches later, causing both benches to approach the field.
"I lost all respect for him," Durazo said.
Although no punches were thrown, the Wildcats seemed to have been inspired by the near-fight.
"It took something like that to get the guys fired up," UA head coach Jerry Stitt said. "We starting swinging it well after that."
The next batter was senior left fielder Rafell Jones, who was pinch hitting for Kenny Huff. The seldom-used two-sport star proceeded to hit a home run to left field, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.
"Rafell was so fired up," Stitt said. "He did a great job for us today.'
"He's swinging the bat real well," he said. "Sometimes its tough for a guy like Rafell to find his way into the lineup regularly, but he came through today."
The Wildcats added five runs in the seventh inning on RBIs from junior shortstop Keoni DeRenne, Durazo, and Jones.
Following the game, Durazo claimed his seventh inning double was a result of a mistake.
"The next time I came up, I was aiming for his forehead," Durazo said. "I missed."
Wins by the Wildcats on both Friday and Saturday night helped lead to an Arizona sweep.
Friday night, sophomore right hander Ben Diggins struck out 12 batters en route to a 5-1 victory against the Matadors.
In the outing, Diggins allowed just six hits - all singles - as the Wildcats cruised to just their third win in seven games.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the sophomore, as losses to Washington State, Washington and Oregon State in his last three outings had left Diggins with an inflated 3.72 ERA.
"Benny has worked hard all week in getting control back," Stitt said. "It was nice for him to get the win."
In winning, Diggins became the first UA pitcher to win nine games in a season since Scott Erickson did so in 1989.
Right fielder Ryan O'Donnell led the Wildcats with four of the team's five RBI. The junior, filling in for the injured Shelley Duncan, hit a three-run home run in the third inning and added an RBI single in the eighth.
Ernie Durazo had two home runs on Saturday night as the Wildcats cruised to a 12-8 victory against the Matadors.
Diggins, Durazo and O'Donnell each homered in the win. Durazo, a junior, matched his career high with four RBI.
Following yesterday's game, the first baseman downplayed the fact that the series failed to count towards the Pacific 10 Conference standings.
"Winning every game is all I care about," he said. "(The sweep) counts, whether it's Pac-10 or non conference."
The Wildcats now have time off for final exams and will return to action next Saturday at UCLA.