Feb. 1, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz.- The Arizona baseball team remained perfect under Andy Lopez with a 3-0 win over Utah, Friday afternoon at Frank Sancet Field. The Wildcats scratched out the victory with only six hits in the ball game to improve to 4-0 for the season, the Utes fell to 1-3.
Three Arizona sophomores combine to limit Utah to just five hits in the game, while posting the first nine-inning shutout since February 9 of last season. Starter Sean Rierson (2-0) worked six innings on the mound to pick up his second win of the season. He worked around trouble all afternoon and at one point retired 10 straight Utah hitters. He finished with four K's and two walks, while giving up only four hits.
Having already made a spectacular catch in the outfield, Anderson took the mound in the ninth for the Cats and retired the Utes in order for his first save of the season. Utah starter Jason Wylie (1-1) picked up the loss.
Rierson and Tony Sulser were the last pair of Arizona pitchers to combine for a shutout last February against New Mexico.
Offensively, Arizona was helped out by newcomer Richard Mercado. Starting for the first time in his Wildcat career, the designated hitter legged out a double on a lazy ball to center field in the second inning. The effort energized the Arizona offense, as Justyn St. Clair rewarded Mercado's hustle with a trip home on the very next pitch. The senior outfielder singled to center, plating Mercado for the only run Arizona would need in the game.
Never content with just one run, Arizona added another another in the third without the aid of a hit. Brad Hassey reached on a fielding error by Utah's Mike Westfall at third. After stealing second, one of three thefts for the senior shortstop on the afternoon, he advanced to third on a wild pickoff attempt by the Utes' Wylie.
Freshman Will Thompson proceeded to loft a ball deep enough to center for Hassey to tag up and score. Hassey scored again in the fifth inning on a bases loaded, two-out walk to Chris Cunningham to round out the scoring.
Mercado was the lone Wildcat to pair hits on the afternoon, finishing 2-for-4 with two doubles.
The two schools will meet up again on Staurday at 1 p.m. Arizona will send lefty Joe Little (1-0) to the mound. Little is taking the mound for the first time since being hit above the left eye in Arizona's dugout by a searing foul ball last Sunday.
Notes: Rierson's victory was his fifth straight dating back to last season ... In his last five starts he is 5-0, with 16 K's, four walks and a 1.71 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched ... Including Arizona's three-game sweep to end the 2001 season, the Wildcats have won seven in a row ... Sophomore Chris Goodman and former Wildcat Jason Martinez combine to shutout Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in seven innings April 14 last season ... Arizona's six hits in the game was a season low ... Senior Brad Hassey is 5-for-5 in steal attempts this season.