By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rivalries tend to bring out the best in baseball. But it was a Nico's Taco's breakfast burrito that brought out the best in Arizona senior Menno Wickey.
Wickey ate his burrito in the morning, then paced the Wildcats at the plate in the afternoon, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and two walks as the Wildcats defeated intrastate rival Arizona State 7-6 before 1,140 fans yesterday at Sancet Field.
Wickey led off the game with a home run and then led off the bottom of the ninth with a 400-foot shot off of Sun Devil reliever Kaipo Spenser to tie the game at six.
"His home run (in the ninth) was keynote for us," UA head coach Jerry Kindall said. "Menno was a hero for us today."
"It didn't really hit me until we were down 6-4 in the bottom of eighth and scored a run," said Wickey of his thoughts on the Wildcats' chances. "I was thinking, 'I do not want to go out losing to ASU.'"
After Wickey tied the ballgame at six, Spenser retired Jake Thrower on a long fly ball to left. Next, Scott Kidd reached on an infield single and then advanced to second when Sun Devil second baseman Robbie Kent threw the ball away.
That set up a confrontation between Spenser (8-4) and senior catcher Chris Cooper. It was Cooper who singled in the winning run in the first meeting of the year March 3. Spenser then went out the next afternoon and struck out 15 Arizona batters. He also plunked Cooper with a pitch in that game.
Cooper fought his way to a full count and then walked. Freshman Diego Rico then reached on a fielder's choice and Kidd advanced to third.
Sophomore Jeff Gjerde then tapped a soft grounder through the hole between first and second base to clinch the win for the Wildcats (18-30-1 overall, 5-19 in the Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division). With the loss, the Sun Devils fell to 31-16 overall and 12-12 in the Six-Pac.
"I think everyone on this team wanted to get the game winning hit off Spenser," Kidd said.
Ben White (1-7) earned his first victory of the year for the Wildcats in relief of Matt Hendren. White pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowed four hits, struck out two and walked two. But most importantly, White allowed no runs to help keep Arizona within striking distance heading into the last two innings.
"There were others in the bullpen that were ready, but he was the most ready," Kindall said of White. "Ben is always ready, that's what I like about him."
The one thing that seemed to please Wickey the most was the fact that the Wildcats finally pulled off a victory. The Sun Devils had beaten the Wildcats 7-0 Friday and 6-4 Saturday after a six-run fifth inning.
"This team's got some balls," Wickey said. "You guys have seen your box scores. Every game we're in it. It means something to me that we're this young and in every game."
Arizona's next opponent is Grand Canyon Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sancet.
Read Next Article