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Friday March 9, 2001

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Wildcats open Pac-10 play in LA

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UA first baseman Ernie Durazo tries to tag a Utah opponent Feb. 9 at Frank Sancet Field Durazo and the Wildcats will take on UCLA tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles.

By Maxx Wolfson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Durazo looks to break hit streak this weekend

If Ernie Durazo is going to tie the all-time consecutive game hitting streak tonight, he is going to have to do it against one of the Pacific 10 Conference's most dominating pitchers - UCLA junior Josh Karp.

Karp (2-0), a preseason All-American candidate, will try to put an end to Durazo's 27-game hitting streak, when he faces the Wildcats tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles.

"I am going to be facing one of the best pitchers (today) and if I get in the record books off him, then it will be great," Durazo said.

UA junior right fielder Shelley Duncan, who hasn't fared well against Karp in the past, is excited to get another shot at him.

"He is one of those pitchers who has five pitches and every single one of his pitches is quality," Duncan said. "You can't just go up there guessing. I haven't done to well against him in the past."

Durazo remains only one hit away from tying the record held by Jack Daugherty, who set the record in the 1981-1982 season prior to having a successful major-league career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and Montreal Expos.

During his own streak, Durazo has put up impressive numbers with 41 hits in 113 at bats for a .363 average.

Arizona (14-10) will try to counter the Bruin ace with freshman pitcher Marc Kaiser, who will try to improve on his 4-2 record.

UA head coach Jerry Stitt has listed, once again, three freshmen - Kaiser, Sean Rierson and Chris Goodman - as the probable starters in the three-game set against No. 23 ranked UCLA (12-5).

"These guys have been pitching really well," Duncan said. "Kaiser is one of the biggest gamers I have ever seen."

The game also marks the opening of Pac-10 play for both the Wildcats and the Bruins. UCLA has won four of its last five games.

"Its tough to open up the conference with UCLA and USC, but if we hustle and play hard, we'll be fine," Durazo said. "We need to play the game the way it's supposed to be played and not worry about the team we are playing."

The trip to Los Angeles will be a homecoming of sorts for UA freshman pitcher Anthony Sulser.

Sulser, a native of Calabasas, Calif., will get the opportunity to play against the team he grew up watching.

"I know a bunch of guys on UCLA, so it will be cool," Sulser said.

The right-hander, who is 2-0 in 11 relief appearances this season, said he is excited about getting to spend his spring break at home.

"I am hoping to have a bunch of my family and friends come out to the game," he said. "I get to go home for a little bit, but we really won't have too much time."

After the three-game set against the Bruins, Arizona will travel back to Tucson for a game against the Houston on March 14. Two days later, the Wildcats will play host against Southern Utah for three games.