TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Behind timely two-out hitting and a season-high in strikeouts by the pitching staff, the ninth-ranked Arizona baseball team (13-5) handed Mississippi State (8-1) its first loss of the season with a 9-3 decision at Kindall Field at Sancet Stadium on Friday.
The Wildcats scored eight of their nine runs in the contest with two outs in an inning and John Meloan, Sean Jarrett and Mark Melancon teamed up to fan 16 Bulldog hitters to win the opening game of a series for the first time in three weeks.
Meloan, who struck out nine over six innings, picked up his 13th straight win dating back to last season. He gave up three runs on seven hits on Friday to bump his record to 3-0 for the year.
Jarrett came on with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh and struck out the first two hitters he faced in the frame and got an inning-ending fly out to end the MSU scoring threat.
Melancon struck out three in the ninth, but had to work an extra batter after a wild pitch on what would have been a game-ending strikeout allowed MSU’s Jeff Butts to reach first base. Melancon bounced back to strikeout Brad Corley in the next at bat to end the contest.
MSU’s Alan Johnson (1-1) was charged with the loss after giving up eight runs, only four which were earned, on nine hits in four innings of work
Offensively, the Wildcats finished with 12 hits in the game, eight of which came with two outs.
The top four hitters in the UA batting order, Trevor Crowe, Jeff Van Houten, Jordan Brown and Nick Hundley, went a combined 10 for 18 (.556) with six runs scored and five RBI. Van Houten (3 for 5, 2 R, RBI) and Brown (3 for 5, 2 R, RBI) extended their hitting streaks to 24 and 18 straight games, respectively.
Chris Frey chipped in with a 2 for 3-night with two RBI and a run scored.
Trailing 1-0 after the first half of an inning, Hundley hit a two-out triple to right center to score Jordan Brown from first to tie the game at 1-1.
Aided by the first of three MSU errors in the game, the Wildcats tacked on four more two-out runs to take a 5-1 lead in the second on Crowe’s two-run triple and run-scoring singles by Van Houten and Brown.
After MSU pulled within three with a run in the third, a fielder’s choice RBI by Bill Rhinehart and a two-out, two-run single in the fourth by Frey pushed the Arizona advantage to 8-2.
Crowe manufactured Arizona’s final run in fifth after tagging up at first on a fly ball to center, stealing third base and scoring on throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt by Bulldog catcher Thomas Berkery.
Arizona and Mississippi State will meet up for the second game of the three-game set at 4 p.m. on Saturday. UA’s Kevin Guyette is slated to make the start on the mound.
Friday’s game was delayed for 13 minutes after the automated sprinkler system came on in the top of the sixth inning. After rain delays last Saturday and Sunday against Texas, it marked the third straight contest that water of some sort has delayed an Arizona game ... Arizona’s eight two-out runs on Friday pushed its season total to 73 two-out runs for the year. The Wildcats have scored 46 percent of their runs with two outs this year ... The 16 strikeouts on Friday eclipsed the previous season high of 15 set by Kevin Guyette in a complete game loss against UC Riverside on Feb. 26 ... Arizona is averaging 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings this season ... Mississippi State’s three errors marked the 12th game this season that an Arizona opponent has committed multiple defensive miscues. The Wildcats played error-free for seventh time this year.