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Baseball: No. 9 UA adds to Devils' misery

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
First baseman Jordan Brown slides past ASU catcher Tuffy Gosewisch for a run in the first inning. Arizona defeated the in-state rival 11-5, improving the ninth-ranked team to 10-1 for the season.
By Michael Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 24, 2005
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Cats thump ASU, 11-5, moves to 10-1

It's official. The rivalry is back.

After having lost the season series with ASU every year since 1999, the

No. 9 Arizona baseball team beat ASU 11-5 last night at Sancet Stadium for the second time this season.

While it took the Wildcats 14 innings to secure their Feb. 15 victory over the Devils (6-9), Arizona (10-1) jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings in this contest and never looked back.

Dating back to last year, the Wildcats have now beaten ASU in three straight games for the first time since 1993.

"After the last two years, after they've been kind of putting it to us for awhile, hopefully the tides are turning a little bit," said junior center fielder Chris Frey.

Frey did his part in making that possible, in his first game hitting second after moving up from his usual eighth spot in the order.

He batted 3-3 with three RBIs, three runs, his first career collegiate home run and a two-run triple to seal the game.

The Arizona offense asserted itself from the start.

Sophomore designated hitter Bill Rhinehart's RBI single, following a run-scoring double by junior catcher Nick Hundley, gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead after one inning.

Junior first baseman Jordan Brown singled home junior left fielder Trevor Crowe to start the scoring, all with two outs.

"We did a good job today of sending out a message that we're here and we're going to put runs on you early to make it so you don't want to play towards the end," said Brown, who drove in three runs on three hits.

The offense produced in many two-out situations, with nine of the 11 runs scored after two men had been retired.

"It's a good sign for us offensively from the standpoint of staying mentally tough, just hanging with the game. A lot of times when you get two outs you just (think) the inning's over, but we did a good job of producing with two outs," said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez.

Freshman David Coulon held the ASU offense at bay, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six in four innings.

Fellow freshman Eric Berger (2-0) followed Coulon to get the win, giving up three runs in 2 2/3 innings, before sophomore closer Mark Melancon shut the door with two scoreless innings to record his first save.

ASU threatened in the eighth, trailing 8-5 with the tying run at the plate with one out, but Melancon secured a come-backer off the bat of Travis Buck and struck out J.J. Sferra to preserve the victory.

With Frey moving up in the lineup, junior second baseman Brad Boyer dropped seven spots to the ninth spot in the batting order after hitting just .163 on the season, a mark well below the team average of .370.

Boyer responded with his best game of the season, going 3-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and his first home run of the season.

Coach Andy Lopez said he made the move because Frey had played well lately.

"Well, he's been hot," Lopez said. "He's been real hot lately, and we wanted to relax Boyer, but I thought Boyer did a great job."

The Wildcats victory showed that Sunday's 7-0 loss at Texas Pan-American was just a blip on the radar. Arizona's offense returned to its explosive form in scoring 11 runs and knocking 17 hits.

"It just means that we came back from a tough loss on Sunday, and that's a good sign," Lopez said. "That Sunday loss was a bear because of the environment and everything else, so it was good to see us come out and play well right out of the chutes."

"Sunday was not a good day," he said. "We're going to have those. It's impossible to not have a bad day in this 56-game marathon, but it was good to see us come out and do this."

On the other side, the unranked Devils have now lost six in a row, having dropped out of the national rankings last week for the first time since the start of the 2000 season.

Considering Arizona's lack of recent success in this rivalry, the Wildcats take great pleasure in adding to ASU's misery.

"Oh, yeah," Brown said. "Put them down even more."

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