MINNEAPOLIS ?- Junior Mark Melancon shut down the Minnesota offense over the final 3 2/3 innings and freshman T.J Steele hit a three-run double in the top of the eighth, as the Arizona baseball team defeated the host Golden Gophers, 7-2, in UA’s first game of the Dairy Queen Classic on Friday.
The victory at the Metrodome was UA’s fifth straight and improved the Wildcats to 9-4 on the year, while the Gophers dropped to 0-4 with the loss.
Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, Minnesota led off the bottom of the inning with back-to-back doubles off of starter Eric Berger to cut the lead to two, and took advantage of a walk by reliever Daniel Schlereth bring the go-ahead run to the plate with just one out.
Melancon entered, and sandwiched strikeouts of pinch hitters Kyle Baran and Taylor VanderAarde around a walk to end the inning with UA’s two-run advantage intact.
The junior closer gave up just two hits over the next three innings, while finishing with two more strikeouts and another walk for his second save of the season and the 16th of his career.
After a scoreless seventh, the Wildcats pulled away in the eighth when Brad Glenn and Bill Rhinehart posted singles around a walk to Konrad Schmidt to load the bases. Steele, who hit a bases-loaded triple early this season, collected his fifth double of the year to plate all three teammates and put the game away at 7-2.
The five-run victory made a winner out of Berger (3-2), who gave up two runs on four hits, and finished with six strikeouts and three walks in five innings of work. UM’s Brian Bull (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up four runs on four hits over five innings.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the game on a solo home run by Jon Gaston, his second of the year, to right in the top of the third, and took advantage of two throwing errors by UM’s Bull on sacrifice bunt attempts to break a 1-1 tie with three runs on two hits in the sixth.
Junior Jason Donald extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games with a double in the fourth, and added a two-run single in the sixth to finish the game 2 for 4. Glenn added a pair of hits and a RBI in four at-bats for the Wildcats in the win.
In an odd twist, Melancon also got a pair of at-bats in the game after Derek Decater injured his shoulder in a collision with the left field wall in the sixth. The loss of senior outfielder forced the