Baseball stops 3-game losing streak

By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, April 12, 2004

The Arizona baseball team salvaged the final game of a three-game series against UCLA Saturday and erased a three-game losing streak before heading to Tempe to play Arizona State today.

The Wildcats (16-14-1, 5-4 Pacific 10 Conference) take on ASU today at 3 p.m. in Tempe. It will be the second of three nonconference games the rival schools play this season. The Sun Devils (23-11, 3-6) won the first contest 4-0 in February.

"They seem to play us extra tough and they love to beat us," said sophomore pitcher John Meloan. "We're going to have to go up there and just compete with them."

Head coach Andy Lopez said he doesn't know who will start for the Wildcats today.

Arizona used eight strong innings from first-time starter Meloan and a four-run first inning to beat the Bruins on Saturday.

"We needed it," Lopez said. "It's still early (in the season), but it was a very important win."

Meloan earned the win while striking out eight batters and allowing three runs, two of which were earned.

"This was a big confidence-booster for me," said Meloan. "I've had some other opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. But this time I think I did, and hopefully I can keep that rolling."

Lopez said Meloan earned the start with a strong performance against the Tucson Sidewinders earlier in the week and made a strong case to stay in the rotation.

"He's had his moments this year that weren't really great, but I'm happy he's handled it in a great way," Lopez said. "He's taken the right route towards success."

Sophomore leftfielder Trevor Crowe led the Wildcats' offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Sophomore third baseman Brad Boyer also had an impressive day at the plate, plating two RBIs of his own while going 2-for-4.

The Wildcats got on the scoreboard early. Boyer hit a bases-loaded double off the glove of the Bruins' shortstop in the first inning, driving in two runs. Crowe added a two-run single to put Arizona up 4-0.

UCLA responded with a run in the second, but Meloan got out of a bases-loaded jam.

He also looked to get out of the third inning after giving up just one run, but junior right fielder Jeff Van Houten dropped a fly ball, allowing another run and trimming the UA's lead to 4-3.

Arizona came back with a run in its half of the third when freshman shortstop Jason Donald hit a ball back at the pitcher, who threw the ball over the first baseman's head and into the right-field corner. Donald rounded the bases and scored to extend the lead to 5-3.

The Wildcats scored two more runs each in the sixth and seventh inning to push their lead to 9-3.

UCLA added two runs in the ninth but fell short.

"We got the pitching and some hitting early. Hopefully, we're getting there," Lopez said.

On Friday, a late Wildcat comeback fell short and they lost 4-3.

Arizona loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth with one out. But pinch hitter Zach Bies flew out to shallow center. And to close out the game, Bruin third baseman Preston Griffin knocked down a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Donald and got a force out at third.

UCLA's Casey Janssen notched the win after throwing 7.2 innings, striking out six and giving up three runs, only one of which was earned.

Arizona got its third complete game of the season from a starting pitcher, and for the third time that pitcher came away with the loss.

Junior Kevin Guyette (4-4) went all nine innings, giving up four runs, two earned, and striking out six.

Junior Koley Kolberg had the other two complete-game losses, against Long Beach State and UC Irvine.

Arizona will travel to Las Vegas after tonight's game at ASU to play a two-game nonconference series against UNLV tomorrow and Wednesday before coming home to play UT Pan-Am this weekend.

UCLA head coach Gary Adams made his final trip to Tucson. Adams is in his 30th and final season at the helm of the Bruins. Lopez, who played for Adams at UCLA in 1975, gave him a cowboy hat after the game ... Junior catcher Richard Mercado extended his season-high hit streak to nine games with a single in the first.