TUCSON, Ariz.- For the second straight day the Arizona offense and pitching put together a very solid effort in a victory over the visiting New Mexico Lobos at Kindall Field. The UA hurlers struck out a combined 18 UNM batters and walked none, while the bats scored 14 runs on 17 hits, including seven for extra bases, in the 14-5 win on Saturday.
The pitching effort, along with numerous individual career days offensively, improved the Wildcats to 2-0 for the year and stretched UA’s winning streak to 21-straight against UNM (0-2) dating back to 1997.
Starter Kevin Guyette, reliever Sean Rierson and closer Mark Melancon, three of the five UA pitchers to appear in the game, teamed up for all 18 of the punch outs to fall just two shy of the Arizona single game record of 20.
Guyette, who last pitched competitively in Arizona’s final game at the 2004 College World Series, struck out a career-high nine batters in 5 1/3 innings of work, while Rierson, who missed the entire 2004 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, whiffed six of the seven hitters he face over 2 1/3 innings. Melancon, who gave up an unearned run in the top of the ninth, rebounded from Arizona’s first error of the season defensively to cap off the K-filled day by striking out the side to end the game.
“I thought all our pitchers did a good job today,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “Kevin (Guyette) didn’t throw all summer, in the fall or even in the preseason this year. Physically it looked like he hit a wall in the sixth, but he’ll continue to get better as his game conditioning improves.
“And for Rierson to take almost 18 months off to have the surgery and rehab his arm and then come in a pitch like he did is very encouraging. It’s only the second game of the year and there are a lot of games left, but it’s a pretty nice start for the pitching staff.”
Offensively, Nick Hundley and Bill Rhinehart each went 4 for 5 on the day and combined to score six of the 14 runs in the game. Hundley hit a par of home runs and finished with three RBI, while Rhinehart chipped in with three singles, a double and a pair of RBI.
The Lobos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a RBI single by Jordan Pacheco and a first and third double steal by Pacheco and Garrick Haymore.
The advantage was short-lived however, as Hundley tied the game with his first of two home runs to straight-away center. The blast scored Rhinehart, who had singled in the previous at bat, and notched the game at 2-2.
A Rhinehart RBI single and a passed ball four hitters later that plated the DH handed UA a 4-2 advantage in the fourth, but New Mexico’s Chris Dabbs evened the score with a two-run homer in the sixth to end Guyette’s day on the mound.
Hundley’s second homer of the game to lead off the bottom of the inning handed the Wildcats a 5-4 lead and a two-run single by Jordan Brown later in the frame gave the Wildcats all the runs they needed.
Arizona tacked on seven more runs on six hits and a UNM error in the seventh to blow the game open.
Rierson (1-0), making his first appearance in an Arizona uniform since May 31, 2003, picked up his 24th career victory on the mound, but just his first since May 18, 2003. UNM’s Karstan Gaarder (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Arizona and New Mexico will close out the three-game series on Sunday at 12 p.m. UA freshman David Coulon is scheduled to make his first career start against the Lobos’ Darren Coltrinari.
Saturday’s walk-free game was the first for Arizona since April 16, 2004 against UT Pan Am ... Dating back to last season, Nick Hundley has hit six home runs in Arizona’s last 13 games. The two homers on Saturday marked the first time the junior catcher has hit multiple homers in a game in his career ... In two games, the Arizona pitching staff has struck out 31 hitters against just three walks ... Arizona, which has led the Pac-10 in stolen bases each of the last two seasons, is a perfect 7 for 7 this season.