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Monday January 22, 2001

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Tropical baseball opener successful for Wildcats

By Brian Penso

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Slow start blossoms into series victory against the Vulcans

The Arizona baseball team started the season off with a promising 3 -1 series victory over Hawaii-Hilo this weekend.

The Wildcats (3-1 overall) won the first three games, but the Vulcans (1-3) managed to take the fourth and final game Saturday, costing UA a season-opening sweep.

"It is always nice to start on the right foot," senior outfielder Jason Shroyer said. "We were hoping for a sweep, but three out of four is not too shabby, but we definitely have room for improvement."

In the fourth game, Hawaii-Hilo had great success against UA pitchers, which led to nine hits and a 4 -1 victory at Wong Stadium.

The Wildcats started the game off with a quick run, but from the first inning on it was all Vulcans.

With a man on in the second inning, senior shortstop Justin Kaneshiro - known for his defensive abilities - hit his first collegiate home run off UA junior Brian Pemble, leading the way to the Vulcan's victory.

Hawaii-Hilo added two more runs in the sixth inning to insure the 4 -1 victory.

The Wildcats defeated the Vulcans 3-2 and 12-1 in a Friday doubleheader after winning Thursday's season opener, 3-2.

Even though the Wildcats were unable to pull off a sweep, its young pitching staff - consisting of 11 freshmen - held Hawaii-Hilo to 11 total runs in the four game series.

"Our pitchers did a great job this past weekend," Shroyer said. "They showed a lot of poise and confidence."

Freshman Sean Rierson - given the nod by head coach Jerry Stitt to be the Wildcats' opening day pitcher - pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs.

Arizona freshman pitcher Chris Goodman finished the game for Rierson by pitching 5 1/3 of shutout ball and securing the Wildcats' first victory.

UA's freshman pitchers continued their success the following day, as freshman pitcher Mark Kaiser pitched five innings.

He allowed a mere two runs and another freshman pitcher, Joe Little, finished the game with two scoreless innings.

Little also added three innings of shutout baseball in the following game.

Freshman Anthony Sulser also pitched well for Arizona with three shutout innings.

"All of the young guys did a great job," Pemble said. "It was good experience for them, and as long as our pitching continues this way, we will be just fine."

One concern, though, for UA was its offensive inconsistency.

While the Wildcats scored just 19 runs in the four games, 12 of them came in one game.

"Offensively, we did not hit as well as we would have liked to," Pemble said. "Our offense, though, will come around."

The Wildcats will play host to Brigham Young Thursday at UA's Sancet Field.

"Overall our team spirits are high and our team chemistry is great," Shroyer said. "We are just looking forward to BYU."