PULLMAN, Wash. - The University of Arizona Wildcats scored 14 runs over final five innings of the second game to overcome a 10-2 Washington State lead, securing a Pacific-10 Conference doubleheader sweep of the Cougars with a 16-11 win Saturday afternoon in front of a full-capacity Mother's Weekend crowd at Buck Bailey Field.
The Wildcats scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning in the first game to break a 3-3 tie and went on to win 6-3. Arizona is now 28-16 on the year and improved to 9-8 in Pac-10 play. The Wildcats now have its longest conference winning streak since 1989 at six games.
The Cougars have dropped 13 of its last 15 games and are now below the .500 mark for the first time in 1999 with a 17-18 record. WSU is 1-10 in league play and currently in last place.
In the first game the Cougs erased Arizona's two-run first inning with three runs of their own to take the early lead. Designated hitter Steve Curran provided the big blow with a sharp two-run single to left field with two outs. Ray Hattenburg continued his hot hitting as well knocking in a run with a single. Hattenburg and Curran each finished the first game with two hits apiece.
The game remained a pitcher's duel the rest of the way with WSU's Todd Meldahl and UA's Josh Pearce battling pitch for pitch. After giving up three hits in the first frame Pearce (Yakima, Wash.) settled down to not allow another hit until the seventh inning. The junior transfer from Portland State picked up his sixth win of the year to improve to 6-4. He gave up just five hits and three runs while striking out six.
Meldahl (Butte, Mont.) pitched a great game giving up just three earned runs while scattering seven hits despite picking up his third loss of the year (3-3). He struck out three and walked only one in seven and a third innings of work.
Wildcat pitcher/designated hitter Ben Diggins put Arizona up for good with a solo home run off Meldahl in the top of the seventh. Diggins, who was the 32nd selection last June's Major League Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, finished the game 1-for-4 and will be the starting pitcher in Sunday's series finale. Leadoff hitter Troy Gingrich and right fielder Shelley Duncan each recorded two hits apiece for the Wildcats in the morning game.
In the second game the Cougars jumped out to a commanding 10-2 lead after four innings much to the help of a six-run explosion out of the gates in the first. WSU sent 10 men to the plate with the first eight hitters accounting for seven hits and six runs. Jason Grove started the rally with a double to score Shawn Stevenson. Curran connected on his third hit of the day with a run-scoring double and then after a Steve Gleason RBI single, Dusty Edler cleared the bases with a two-run double to right field.
WSU starter Jamaal Gaines (Antioch, Calif.) provided the Cougars with yet another solid outing allowing only three earned runs to cross the plate in five innings. Gaines left the game with a 10-4 lead at his back and picked up the hard-fought no-decision to keep his record at 2-3.
In the fifth the Wildcats started what would become a four-inning scoring feast with two runs. Duncan connected on his team-leading 16th home run of the year to pull the Cats' within seven runs. Arizona added two more in the sixth off WSU reliever Reggie Rivard (Bonnyville, Alberta) and then pulled even with the Cougs at 10 with a four-run seventh inning.
The Wildcats pulled to within two at 10-8 and then pulled even when Cougar freshman second baseman Bookie Gates committed his third and fourth errors of the afternoon allowing the tying runs to come across the plate.
The Cougars pulled ahead for the last time in the bottom of the seventh when Gleason singled through the right side to score Grove. In the top of the eighth the Wildcats exploded for six run off three Cougar relievers to push its lead to the eventual final score of 16-11.
Gingrich plated three runs for Arizona with a bases loaded, three-run double into the left-center field gap of WSU pitcher Lanakila Niles. Gingrich finished the afternoon game 4-for-6 with four RBIs and three runs scored and 6-for-11 in the doubleheader. Ernie Durazo was also 4-for-6 in the afternoon game. All of Arizona's runs in the final five innings came with two outs.
Grove was perfect at the plate going 3-for-3 with three RBIs, and Gleason, Evan Hecker, and Edler each had two hits apiece in the second game. Grove was the leading hitter for the Cougs on the day going 4-for-7 at the plate.
Matt O'Brien (Seattle, Wash.) picked up the loss for WSU giving up two runs in just under an inning of work. O'Brien is now 5-3 in 1999. Mike Meyer improved to 3-0 on the season in picking up the win for Arizona while not allowing a hit in two and a third innings. Wildcat starter Mike Crawford had his shortest outing of the year not making it out of the first inning while giving up six runs on six Cougar hits.
The first game of the doubleheader will be replayed on Fox Sports Northwest at 1 p.m. Sunday. The third game of the three-game league series will conclude Sunday with a 12 p.m. game at Bailey Field. Ben Diggins will get the start for Arizona against WSU's Wade Parrish.
Arizona 201 000 210 - 6 7 1 WSU 300 000 000 - 3 5 4Game 2
Josh Pearce and Dennis Anderson. Todd Meldahl, Les McTavish (8), and Jeff Scherer, Ryan Smith (8). W - Pearce (6-4); L - Meldahl (3-3); S - None, HR - Diggins (5). T - 2:10. Arizona Hits - Gingrich 2, DeRenne, Duncan 2, Diggins. WSU Hits - Grove, Hattenburg 2, Curran 2. E - DeRenne (10), Stevenson (15), Gates 2 (13), Gleason (7). 2B - Duncan (9), Curran (2). 3B - Grove (1).
Arizona 011 022 460 - 16 21 1 WSU 610 300 100 - 11 13 3 Mike Crawford, Brian Pemble (1), Wesley Zlotoff (4), Mike Meyer (7), and Dennis Anderson. Jamaal Gaines, Reggie Rivard (6), Matt O'Brien (7), Lanakila Niles (8), Sean Donlin (8), Tyson Thompson (9), and Ryan Smith, Jeff Scherer (9).
W - Meyer (3-0); L - O'Brien (5-3); S - None, HR - Duncan (16). T - 3:44; A - 3,424. Arizona Hits - Gingrich 4, Juday 3, DeRenne, Duncan 2, Durazo 4, Torres, Huff 3, Diggins, Anderson 2. WSU Hits - .Stevenson, Hecker 2, Grove 3, Hattenburg, Gates, Gleason 2, Curran, Edler 2. E - Meyer (2), Grove (2), Gates 2 (15). 2B - Gingrich (11), Juday 2 (11), Duncan (10), Durazo 2 (8), Hecker (2), Grove (3), Curran (3), Edler 2 (5). 3B - None.