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Wednesday February 28, 2001

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Duncan 3-homer effort against Utah puts him with elite company

By Brian Penso

Arizona Daily Wildcat

In Friday's victory over Utah, junior outfielder Shelley Duncan hit three home runs in three consecutive at-bats. The junior's feat tied an Arizona school record.

Duncan joins Arizona Hall of Famer Ron Hassey, the father of current UA junior shortstop Brad Hassey.

Only two other Wildcats - Dennis Haines and current senior third baseman Erik Torres - have hit three home runs in a single game.

"He is a very capable hitter with a lot of power," first base coach Victor Solis said. "He is looking to be more consistent, and right now he is seeing the ball really well."

Duncan finished the game 4 for 4 with four runs scored and five RBI.

"I got a lot of good pitches to hit," Duncan said. "With Ernie (Durazo) getting on base a lot, I'm seeing a lot of good pitches."

Senior first baseman Ernie Durazo is approaching history.

In the midst of a 24-game hitting streak, the senior is tied with Dave Stegman for the third-longest streak in Arizona history.

If Durazo hits safely in Arizona's next five games, he will pass Jack Daugherty for first on the all-time list. Daugherty, who played at UA from 1981-82, hit safely in 28 consecutive games.

"(Durazo) is a key hitter in our lineup," Solis said. "He is getting a lot of timely hits for us, which is real important for us. All Ernie cares about is the team's success, and he is doing everything he can to help the team win."

Currently, Durazo leads the team with a .400 batting average to go with 30 RBI's and an on-base percentage of .490.

Following his two-year career at UA, Daugherty went on to a major-league career with the Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.

When the season began, UA head coach Jerry Stitt gave junior left fielder Justyn St. Clair the opportunity to start the season as the Wildcats' leadoff hitter.

The experiment didn't last long.

After starting the season 5-7, Stitt called upon Hassey to take over the leadoff role.

Since the change, Arizona has won eight of its last nine games.

Hassey has responded nicely to his new role - the junior leads the team in runs scored (22) and stolen bases (3).

"He's done a great job as our leadoff hitter," Solis said. "He gets on base a lot, and his speed allows our hitters to see a lot of fastballs when he is on base because of the stolen base threat."

Hassey said that his recent success at the plate has a lot to do with the added at-bats he has been getting by batting at the top of the order.

"I'm starting to feel more comfortable at the plate," he said. "I'm concentrating a lot. As I get more at-bats, I think I'll get better."