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Monday April 23, 2001

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Anderson hero in extra-inning win

Headline Photo

By Maxx Wolfson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wildcats overcome 7-run deficit to defeat Cal and keep postseason hopes alive

The Arizona baseball team had its back against the wall yesterday.

Down 9-2 in the fifth inning and facing a possible sweep against Pacific 10 Conference rival California, the Wildcats' saw their hopes of reaching the NCAA Regional Playoffs fading away.

It took a four-run fifth inning and a heroic performance by freshman Brian Anderson to give the Wildcats new hope and a 12-11 victory at Sancet Field.

Anderson, who started the game in center field, came in to pitch in the ninth inning down 11-10 to retire the Golden Bears in order.

The Wildcats came back in the bottom of the inning to tie the game.

With the wind blowing toward left field all afternoon, second baseman Matt Abram drove a ball deep to left that was mishandled by Cal left fielder Brian Horwitz. Abram was given a double.

"We didn't get any breaks the last two days, but we did get a break today," UA head coach Jerry Stitt said. "If (Horwitz) got a good read on it, he would have caught it. The wind was blowing a little more than he thought."

Anderson laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Abram to third base.

Sophomore catcher Ken Riley, pinch hitting for junior Kenny Huff, grounded a ball past the glove of first baseman Clint Hoover to score the game-tying run.

In the 10th inning, with runners on second and third, Anderson singled up the middle to give the Wildcats a 12-11 victory, their first of the season against the Golden Bears.

"We really came together as a team," Anderson said. "This is a big win."

Anderson finished the game 3 for 4 with two RBIs and allowed only one base runner in two innings of work on the mound.

The freshman, who prepped at nearby Canyon Del Oro High School, had only pitched a total of two innings prior to yesterday.

"I knew my luck was going to run out sooner or later," Anderson said. "I probably would have gotten lit the next inning."

The Wildcats didn't fare as well Friday or Saturday, allowing a total of 40 runs in losing efforts.

Despite Shelley Duncan's NCAA-leading 20th home run Friday, Arizona was unable to hold onto a 7-2 lead, eventually losing 11-9. On Saturday, the Wildcats lost 19-13.

Sunday, though, the tables were turned, and the Wildcats were able to come back from a big deficit.

The win improves the Wildcats' (28-19 overall, 7-8 in the Pac-10) chances of advancing to the Regional Playoffs, which start on May 25.

"We had 12 games left coming into this series, and we needed about six or seven wins to get us over the hump," Abram said. "With teams like ASU and Stanford - two of the best teams in the country - left to play, this win was big."