Feb. 8, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz.- The Arizona baseball team got a strong pitching performance out of its starting staff for the second consecutive day as the Wildcats defeated San Diego State, 6-3, at Frank Sancet Field, Friday afternoon. The win improved Arizona's record to 9-1 on the season while dropping SDSU to 5-3.
Sophomore Joe Little (3-0), who struck out the side to open the game in the first inning, raked up a career-high 10 K's in seven innings pitched for his third win of the season. Dating back to last season, the southpaw has won four straight starts for the Wildcats and remains unbeaten in his Arizona career with a perfect 7-0 record. He gave up only two earned runs and scattered four hits in Friday's game. Senior Wes Zlotoff pitched the final two innings to secure the win.
Trailing 1-0 after two and half innings, freshman Jeff Van Houten gave Arizona its first lead of the game in the bottom of the third with his third home run of the season. The one-out, two-run blast over of the left-center field wall scored classmate Chris Marini from first. The four bagger was Arizona's 12th of the season.
The Aztecs tied the score in the top of the fifth on Carlo Cota's double that plated Brian Manfred from second. The 2-2 tie lasted until the bottom of the sixth when Arizona broke through with three runs.
Sophomore Marc Kaiser put the scoring wheels in motion when he was hit with his team leading fifth pitch of the season. His stay on the base paths was short as team RBI leader Chris Cunningham drove him home with his fifth double of the season.
Freshman Richard Mercado plated Cunningham two pitches later with a RBI single up the middle, extending his team leading consecutive games with a hit to seven straight in the process. Catcher Ken Riley, making his first start behind the plate, got into SDSU's Rory Shortell's final pitch of the day for a triple that plated Mercado for the third run of the inning and a 5-2 Arizona lead.
Senior Clayton Bried closed out the scoring for Arizona in the bottom of the seventh when he came home on a wild pitch by Aztec reliever Daryl Harang.
San Diego State added a lone run with two out in the ninth, but could pull no closer as Zlotoff induced Manfred to pop harmlessly out to Brad Hassey for the final out of the game.
Arizona and San Diego State close out the three game series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. game. The Wildcats will send Kaiser (1-0) to the mound for his third start of the season and Aztecs will counter with Mike Moat (1-0).