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Lopez beats former team

By David Stevenson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 4, 2002

The Arizona baseball team matched its season-high winning streak with its sixth straight victory in a 13-4 series-sweeping win against California State Dominguez Hills yesterday.

However, the win wasn't pretty.

UA left 11 men on base and stranded at least one man at the end of every inning.

Defensively, the Wildcats made two costly mistakes in the outfield that eventually led to two Toro runs. Freshman right fielder Jeff Van Houten misjudged a fly ball that bounced all the way to the wall for an RBI double by CSUDH catcher Edgar Esqueda.

"I had a bad jump on the ball," Van Houten said. "I just froze, and I couldn't make up for it."

However, the freshman did make up for it with a bases-loaded triple to right field to give the Wildcats an 8-1 lead in the third inning. Van Houten finished the day at the plate going 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

Sophomore starting pitcher Joe Little went six innings to earn his fourth victory of the year, yielding three runs on five hits with six strikeouts. However, he wasn't pleased with his performance and was concerned about his next scheduled start.

"My mechanics are off right now, and I'm really falling off of the mound badly," Little said. "Against a school like this you're going to get some outs, but next weekend against Long Beach State it's not going to happen for me so I really need to make the corrections."

The combination of leaving runners on base and the questionable outfield play made the victory seem like a loss.

"We got a little bit sloppy at times but you're always happy with a win," UA head coach Andy Lopez said. "We had a couple of at-bats that I thought we didn't do a good job with.

"We just got a little careless at times. We'll be better than that, and it's better to have that now then later."

Saturday, UA won 12-1 behind a 10-strikeout performance by sophomore pitcher Sean Rierson.

The right-hander scattered four hits over eight innings and sophomore Chris Goodman closed out the win with a perfect ninth inning.

UA freshman first baseman Will Thompson went 3-for-4 on the day with two triples and four RBIs. Of Arizona's 13 hits, eight of them turned into extra bases.

Lopez said he thought UA had a better game on Saturday than yesterday.

"I was pleased of the three aspects of the game on (Saturday). We got good pitching from Rierson and we got very good hitting and played very good defense. (Saturday) I thought it was an 'A' performance and today I thought it was about a 'B.'"

Overall, Lopez said he enjoyed playing host to the school where he began his coaching career 20 years ago. In Arizona's 1986 national championship season, Lopez and the Toros won two out of three games against the Wildcats at Sancet Field, something he sheepishly remembers.

"It makes me remember the days when I walked out of that dugout in (a Toro) uniform," Lopez said. "Of the things that have happened in my career, that was a special one (because) winning two out of three was pretty exciting.

"We had been to the College World Series the year before but still, when you come into Arizona and win, it was a big accomplishment."

The Wildcats will travel to the California to take on Long Beach State this weekend.


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