Trailing 5-4, senior Brad Boyer laced a two-out, two-run single to left to hand the Wildcats a one-run advantage. The opposite field hit scored T.J. Steele and Brad Glenn to give the Wildcats their second lead of the game. The Wildcats had pulled within one on a bases loaded walk to Jon Gaston the previous at-bat.
UCR had an opportunity to change the outcome of the inning earlier in the frame, but second baseman Drew Garcia bobbled a low liner off the bat of Colt Sedbrook that potentially could have been turned for a double play.
The one-run lead proved to be tenuous however, as Riverside threatened to pull even in the top of the seventh and ahead in the eighth, but outstanding relief pitching and defense left Highlander runners in scoring position in both frames.
Jeff Dunbar led off the seventh with double to right off of UA’s Ryan Perry and advanced to third when Boyer dropped a throw for UA’s second error in the contest. Reliever Daniel Schlereth, who will most likely move into the closer role for the Wildcats, entered the contest with runners on the corners and no outs and got out of the jam with liner to short and a pair of strikeouts to keep the Highlanders off the board.
In the eighth, the Highlanders advanced a pair of runners to second and third with a sac bunt, but Schlereth struck out pinch hitter Kyle Barrett and got an outstanding diving grab and throw from Sedbrook up the middle to end the inning with no harm done.
Steele gave the Wildcats some much-needed breathing room and a four-run lead in the ninth with a two-run triple to right and a fielding error on the play for a 9-5 lead. Pinch runner Hunter Pace and Derek Decater both scored on the Steele’s second triple in the series. DH Eric Berger added to the Wildcats advantage with a two-run single through the right side with two outs for a 11-5 lead.
Offensively, the Wildcats rapped out 13 hits, drew six walks and were hit by six pitches, which tied the single game school record set Feb. 26, 2000 vs. Tulane. Individually, Brad Glenn led all players with three hits in four at-bats and four other Wildcats finished with a pair of hits on the day.
The come-from-behind victory made a winner out of first-time starter Brad Mills. The junior southpaw improved to 2-0 on the year after surrendering five runs, just three earned, on six hits in five innings of work. He struck out a career-high six hitters in the game, including five of the first six Highlanders he faced in the game. Schlereth, who worked the final three scoreless innings, picked up his second career save. He finished the game with five strikeouts and no walks.
UCR’s Adam Reifer (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up three unearned runs in the sixth.
The Wildcats snapped a scoreless tie in the top of the third with a pair of runs on two hits, including a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Steele, an RBI-HBP and a run-scoring ground out.
Sedbrook began the third with an infield single that died right in front of UCR second baseman Garcia. Steele advanced Sedbrook to third on a grounder through the vacant right side on the hit-and-run and Gaston loaded the bases for the top of the Wildcat order.
Boyer drove home the first run when he was hit by UCR starter Haley Winters’s 2-2 pitch and Jason Donald added another with fielder’s choice grounder one hitter latter. The Wildcats had an opportunity for more, but Konrad Schimdt and Brad Glenn were both retired with the bases loaded to end the inning.
UCR responded to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the frame when Mills walked Drew Garcia and hit Jeff Dunbar to open the inning. Brett Biggler dropped a bunt down the third base line that Mills fielded and tossed into the right field corner for a single, a two-base error and a pair of runs. A grounder by D.J. Hollingsworth in the next at-bat handed the Highlanders the one-run advantage.