Johnny Field collected a career-high four hits, Kurt Heyer pitched seven innings for the win, and Stephen Manthei earned his first career save as Arizona downed North Dakota State, 3-1.
Feb. 17, 2012
Arizona 3, North Dakota State 1 (Box Score)
Opening Day Photo Gallery
TUCSON, Ariz. - The No. 5 Arizona baseball team scored three first-inning runs to ignite an opening-day throng of 3,997 fans at historic Hi Corbett Field on Friday evening. Those turned out to be the only fireworks the fans would see until the post-game fireworks display that capped a festive day for the storied program.
Arizona (1-0) withstood a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first by answering with three runs of its own in the home half of the initial frame. From there, the Wildcats used steady pitching from Kurt Heyer and Stephen Manthei to limit visiting North Dakota State (0-1) to just one run in a 3-1 Wildcat victory in the season-opener for both clubs.
Heyer struggled in the first inning, giving up two hits and a walk to load the bases with just one out. But a strikeout and a fly-out ended the threat and set the stage for a big inning for the Wildcats' bats.
Joey Rickard reached on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. One out later, Robert Refsnyder drove in Rickard for the first run of the season. Johnny Field followed with an RBI triple to left-center, and Seth Mejias-Brean tacked on the third run with a sacrifice fly.
From there Heyer settled down on the mound and collected seven strikeouts in seven innings. The right-hander scattered five hits and issued two walks.
Manthei earned his first career save by working a scoreless eighth and ninth innings. The junior righty registered three strikeouts and allowed only one batter to reach - a soft single in the eighth.
John Straka suffered the loss for the Bison despite limiting the UA offense to the three runs on seven hits. Straka tossed five innings with a strikeout and two walks issued.
Field collected four of the hits off Straka, including two doubles and a single to go with the run-scoring triple in his first at-bat. The four hits set a new career-high.
Prior to the game, Hall of Fame coach Jerry Kindall joined Hank Rowe, the grandson of legendary coach Frank Sancet, in throwing out the ceremonial first pitches. Kindall threw his pitch to long-time friend and assistant coach Jim Wing. Over 100 letterwinners circled the mound behind the coaches to ring in a new era of Wildcat baseball at Hi Corbett Field.
The opening-day crowd of 3,997 was one of the largest in school history, and the biggest single-game attendance for the school in four seasons. The largest crowd in 2011 was 2,238 against Arizona State at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
The two teams will continue their three-game series on Saturday at 4 p.m. Two-time world champion manager and 1980 Golden Spikes Award winner Terry Francona will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.