By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
In the doldrums of a six-game losing streak, it was obvious that the Arizona baseball team needed a win. And it was obvious to Wildcat coach Jerry Kindall who would lead the way back to the win column.
Under ominous, cloudy skies, UA starter Ryan Frace pitched a complete game, and struck out nine Cal State-Dominguez Hills batters to guide the Wildcats to a 4-3 victory over the Toros in front of 222 fans yesterday afternoon at Sancet Field.
"He was our best bet to win the game," Kindall said.
The victory was Frace's second complete game of the year.
"I was kind of dead out there today," Frace said. "I didn't feel very sharp."
He may not have felt sharp but luckily for the Wildcats, Frace was like nails.
Tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh, with the bases loaded and the Dominguez Hills threatening to blow the game wide open, Frace hit the outside corner of the plate to strike out a disbelieving Brett Owens. All Owens, the Toro cleanup hitter could do, was watch.
"That was a good moment for the team," Frace said. "To get the third strike with the bases juiced was huge."
The Wildcats got off to an early start courtesy of Jeff Gjerde's bat.
With Diego Rico at first, Gjerde cranked his second home run of the year to give Arizona an early 2-0 lead.
Arizona added another run in the second when Russ Brown tripled to right to score Erik Mattern.
But Toro starter Tino Ortega then settled down and did not allow another run. Ortega was relieved in the eighth by Brian Noyes.
Dominguez Hills got single runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings to even the score at 3-3, setting up more late inning dramatics for the Wildcats. Dominguez Hills was without a head coach for the last inning after their head man George Wing was ejected by the home plate umpire for arguing with the balls and strikes being called.
Menno Wickey pinch hit to lead off the ninth and fought for a walk. John Powers sacrificed Wickey to second. The next batter, Scott Kidd singled to center to score Wickey and seal the victory for Arizona.
The Wildcats, who average three errors a game, played solid defensive baseball and committed only one error on the day
"Defensively, our guys did a good job today," Kindall said.
Despite Thrower's good showing as the second baseman, Kindall was unsure of who would remain the starter at second, Kidd or Thrower.
"You put your best nine out there. Not your nine best." Kindall said. "Whichever one fits in best with the other eight will get the start."
With yesterday's win, the Wildcats upped their record to 5-7. The Toros suffered their first loss of the year and fell to 4-1-1.
"We lost six in a row and this was a big win for our confidence," Wickey said. "We'll just go out and play like we're capable of playing."
The Wildcats and the Toros will finish up their short two-game series today at 2:30 p.m. at Sancet Field. Ben White (0-2, 7.02 ERA) will start for Arizona.
Read Next Article