By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
In 1980, UA baseball coach Jerry Kindall coached a group known as the "Cardiac Cats." Now, 15 years later, his 1995 squad has found ways to win in a similiar fashion.
Yesterday afternoon's game at Sancet Field started much the same way Arizona's first three games had. The Wildcats found themselves behind early and behind big due once again to an inconsistent defense, but still found a way to win the ballgame 11-10.
"It's a great quality to develop in the early season. But I'd also like to develop good, sharp, errorless ball," UA head coach Jerry Kindall said with a laugh.
Brigham Young jumped on Wildcat starter Matt Hendren (0-0, 9.00 ERA) early, scoring three runs in the top of the second. In a fourth inning that saw the Wildcats commit two errors, the Cougars again lit up their bats for three runs.
The Wildcats came to life in the bottom of the fourth, sending nine hitters to the plate against Cougar starter Tom Gatten (0-0, 7.20 ERA). Arizona scored four runs, highlighted by Jeff Gjerde's two-run triple. Gjerde, who went 4-for-5 with 4 RBI, continues to come up big at the plate for the Wildcats.
"I just try to relax," said the sophomore first baseman. "I try not to get too uptight about anything and keep cool."
While Gjerde may be a cool customer, his bat is red-hot. Yesterday's outburst upped his average to .562.
In the top of the fifth, Hendren was relieved by Pat McMillin, but the sophomore right-hander could not find a way to stop the dam from breaking. After David Bills tagged McMillin for a triple, Kindall called on Shawn Barrington to plug the hole.
Barrington (2-0, 0.90 ERA), who pitched six innings of two-hit ball for the victory in relief of Hendren in the UA's season opener against New Mexico, again was solid, allowing just one mid
hit and two walks in 4 1/3 innings before giving way to Jason Frierott, who closed the game and earned the save.
"I'm pleased with my first two outings," Barrington said, "but I would have liked to have finished the game."
With the Wildcats down 9-4 going into the bottom of the sixth, Diego Rico and Scott Kidd drilled back-to-back RBI singles.
The rally was on.
With Barrington on the mound shutting down the Cougar bats, the Wildcats went on a hitting spree. Gjerde doubled and scored on Colin Porter's RBI single in the seventh to bring Arizona to within two runs.
Rico tripled to open the eighth and scored on Kidd's second RBI single of the game. After Menno Wickey walked, Gjerde hit his second triple of the day to score Kidd and Wickey.
In the ninth Barrington got one out but then just seemed to run out of gas, surrendering a walk and a base hit before giving way to Frierott.
Frierott hit the first batter he faced, then gave up an infield single that allowed the Cougars to close the gap to one run Ä 11-10 Ä before striking out Jared Bills to earn the save.
Kindall is pleased with his players' uncanny ability to pull it out in pressure situations.
"Barrington was just terrific today," Kindall said. "Rico got some big hits. That leadoff triple Ä was that ever a nice thing."
Watching the Wildcats play is like watching two different teams show up to play baseball.
For the first four innings, Gatten and the Cougars took complete control of the contest by scoring six runs while keeping the Wildcat bats at bay. But in the last four innings, it seemed like nine brand new players showed up, took over and got the victory.
"We're gonna start backwards tomorrow," Kindall said. "Maybe these are twilight kids."
Contrary to Kindall's wishes, tomorrow afternoon's game is scheduled to start at 2:30. Arizona will send Ryan Frace (0-1, 6.43 ERA) to the mound. Brian Knoll is the probable starter for BYU.
Read Next Article