A six-run sixth inning blew the game open last night as the No. 13 Arizona baseball team won its Pacific 10 Conference opener 13-6 against Washington at Sancet Stadium.
Eight Wildcat batters in a row reached base in the sixth as Arizona (17-9, 1-0 Pac-10) took down the Huskies (13-9, 0-1) going away.
The pitching staff also held up its end of the bargain, striking out 18 batters to tie a season high in a contest played in front of only 661 fans.
Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said it was a good game to start the Pac-10 season.
"They got timely hitting early, we got some timely hitting late," he said. "We capitalized on a few innings where they helped us defensively, so it was a good game."
Junior ace John Meloan (5-0) pitched through a slow start on his way to a career-high tying 12-strikeout performance while allowing four runs in six innings.
"I'm always happy to take a strikeout," Meloan said. "Washington's a very aggressive team. They like to hit a lot of fastballs, so if they're that aggressive they're going to either hit the ball hard or swing and miss a lot. Fortunately, I was able to get them to swing and miss."
Meloan's two most important whiffs came in the top of the fifth. Arizona trailed 4-2 with one out and the bases loaded when he struck out Matt Lane and Curt Rindal.
The Wildcats scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead before putting it out of reach with their six-run sixth.
"I just kind of got the momentum in our dugout, and our hitters saw I'm out there trying to work for them, not having my best game, but I'm going to do what I can, and they're just trying to pick me up as well," Meloan said.
Meloan said he appreciated the momentum change.
"I feel like my offense carried me tonight," he said. "Last week I carried them, so that's why it's a team game. They definitely put some offense up for me and got the momentum, and they saw me out there doing my part, getting out of jams and stuff like that later in the game."
After shaking off a rough outing in which he gave up six runs in 1 1/3 innings at No. 1 Cal State-Fullerton Sunday, freshman Eric Berger provided solid relief, striking out six while allowing no runs over the final 2 2/3 innings.
"I was very impressed with Berger," Lopez said. "He did a magnificent job. That's good when you're a freshman, first game in Pac, come out and strike out the first four guys you face against a very good team."
The Wildcats and Huskies play the second game of a three-game set today at 7 p.m. with junior Kevin Guyette (4-2, 3.83 ERA) taking the hill for Arizona against Washington's Kyle Parker (4-3, 4.55) at Sancet Stadium.
Freshman David Coulon (2-0, 4.88) gets his shot as the third starter tomorrow at noon in the series finale against Matt Kasser (2-2, 3.90).