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Cats Take Opener From Tigers, 8-1
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/24/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 24, 2012

Arizona 8, Auburn 1 (Box Score)

TUCSON, Ariz. - Alex Mejia blasted a two-run homerun in a five-run second inning for the No. 8 Arizona baseball team, which rode the arm of a gritty Kurt Heye rfor seven innings en route to an 8-1 series-opening victory over Auburn before a crowd of 2,470 on Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.

It was an ominous start for Heyer and the Wildcats, though. The Tigers opened the scoring in the second inning when Creede Simpson lined a full-count fastball back up the middle, which deflected off Heyer's throwing hand for an infield single. Heyer remained in the game, but the Tiger's scratched across an unearned run later in the frame to claim a 1-0 edge.

Arizona wasted no time answering, rapping out six hits off Tiger starter Derek Varnadore in the home half of the decisive second inning. Seth Mejias-Brean and Trent Gilbert collected singles to ignite the rally, and the Wildcats loaded the bases when Riley Moore reached on a bunt single. One out later, Bobby Brown laced a two-run single to left-center for his first hit of the year to give UA a 2-1 lead.

A balk committed by Varnadore moved Moore and Brown to second and third respectively. Joey Rickard drove in Moore with a sacrifice fly to give the Wildcats a two-run cushion, setting the stage for Mejia's blast.

After hitting from both sides of the plate while nursing a sprained left wrist over the first four games, Mejia hit solely from the right side of the plate on Friday. His opening at-bat resulted in a long fly out to left field, but his second trip produced the Wildcats' first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field, and pushed the lead to 5-1.

Heyer (2-0) settled down on the mound and allowed just four hits over the next five innings. He scattered six hits in the game, walked just one and tallied four strikeouts. The lone run he surrendered was unearned.

Varnadore (1-1) was charged with the loss after giving up seven runs on 11 hits in six innings of work. Chase Williamson finished the game for the Tigers and allowed one run on three hits.

The Wildcats added insurance runs in the third, sixth and eighth innings. In all, three players - Mejia, Mejias-Brean and Dixon - collected three hits. Mejias-Brean and Dixon each had two doubles, while Mejia drove in a season-high four runs.

Auburn (3-3) tallied four hits off UA reliever Mathew Troupe, but the freshman right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out two in his second career appearance.

The two clubs wrap up the brief three-game series on Saturday with a scheduled double-header. The first game will begin at 2 p.m. with the second game set to start approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first.

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