April 4, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz.- The No. 21 Arizona baseball team flirted with ninth inning disaster, but held on to win 11-10 over Miami (Ohio) at Frank Sancet Field on Friday night. The Arizona bullpen gave up six runs in the top half of the ninth to allow the Redhawks to tie the game at 10-10 and force the Wildcats to claim the win in the home half of the ninth. The victory improved Arizona to 23-10 for the season, while Miami fell to 11-13-1.
Relievers John Meloan and Brian Pemble struggled to put the Redhawks away in the ninth, issuing four of Arizona's season-high 11 walks in the inning. Miami scored the six late runs on just three hits and were allotted four outs in the inning.
Meloan walked leadoff hitter Mike Ferris to open the ninth inning and then balked to advance him to second. A fly out to right field off the bat Michael Carlin moved Ferris up ninety feet to third. A one-out walk to Tyler Tabler placed runners on the corners for pinch hitter Brendan Handley, who delivered a single to shortstop to score Ferris and advance Tabler to second.
Meloan then got Geoff Orr to fly out to Brian Anderson in center for the second out of the inning and appeared to have the game in hand with a strikeout of pinch hitter Andi Scheidt for the third out of the inning. However, the ball bounced past catcher Richard Mercado to the screen behind home plate for a wild pitch to allow Scheidt to reach first and Tabler to score to cut Arizona's lead to 10-6.
An RBI double by Zach Schmidt and a two-run single off the bat of David Cook then narrowed the UA lead to 10-9. Meloan, who was in line for his second save of the season heading into the inning, walked Jon Franzese to place runners on first and second for lefty Brian Pemble.
Pemble walked Ferris for the second time in the inning to load the bases and then issued a free pass to Carlin to drive in the tying run. The inning thankfully came to a close on a ground ball to Brad Boyer, who stepped on third for the force out.
The bottom of the Arizona order came through to bail out the Wildcat bullpen in the home half of the ninth. Shortstop John Hardy drew a leadoff walk to open the inning and advanced to second on freshman Lee Franklin's fielder's choice sac bunt that Miami reliever Michael Gardner fielded, but threw too late to catch the running Hardy to place runners on first and second for Derek Decater. The freshman DH delivered the game-winning hit on Garnder's 3-0 pitch to score Hardy from second and hand Arizona the victory.
Pemble picked up his second win of the season with a 1/3 of an inning of work. The ninth inning meltdown cost starter Richie Gardner his seventh win of the season. The Arizona ace gave up four runs, just one earned, on six hits over six innings in the no decision effort.
Offensively Arizona rapped out 18 hits in the game. Junior Brian Anderson, who made a spectacular diving catch in the first inning, finished the game 4 for 5 with a home run, his team-leading 10th of the season, and four RBIs. Sophomore Jeff Van Houten chipped in with a 3 for 4, two-run night, while Hardy and Franklin finished 2 for 3 and 3 for 3, respectively.
Arizona and Miami will match up for the second game of the three-game set on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on KNST (790-AM).