A pair of pinch-hit doubles in the 9th inning and Jett Bandy's walk-off RBI single propelled Arizona to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over California.
April 8, 2011
Arizona 5, California 4 (Box Score)
TUCSON, Ariz. - Jett Bandy's two-out, run-scoring single to right field drove in pinch-runner Bobby Rinard from second base and capped a furious ninth-inning rally for the No. 22 Arizona baseball team as it won in walkoff fashion, 5-4, over No. 13 California on Friday evening at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium.
Arizona (21-10, 3-4 Pac-10) trailed by two runs entering the ninth inning, but a pair of pinch-hit doubles helped the Wildcats tie the game. With one out, Bobby Brown delivered a double to left-centerfield to jumpstart the comeback. Alex Mejia drew a walk to put two runners on, before pinch-hitter Josh Garcia pulled a double down the left field line that drove in the two runs to even the game at 4-4.
With Garcia on second, the Wildcats replaced him with Rinard. California elected to intentionally walk Joey Rickard, the national leader in base hits who already had two in the game, to place runners on first and second. After Cole Frenzel struck out swinging, Bandy stepped to the plate and delivered a line drive single to right field.
The ball was hit sharply and set up a close play at the plate. Right fielder Vince Bruno fielded the ball on one hop and fired a strike to catcher Chadd Krist. The throw had Rinard beaten at the plate, but a nifty head-first slide to avoid Krist allowed Rinard to slap home plate and avoid the tag to score the winning run.
The ninth-inning heroics outshined another stellar pitching performance by Kurt Heyer, who was actually on the hook for the loss after giving up two runs in the top of the ninth inning, which pushed the Golden Bears' lead to 4-2.
Otherwise, Heyer tied his season high with 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched as he worked into the ninth inning in a second straight start. He surrendered four runs - three earned - on six scattered hits.
Matt Chaffee earned the victory in relief after replacing Heyer with two outs in the top of the ninth. Chaffee entered with runners on second and third, but was able to record a strikeout to escape further damage and set the stage for the three-run rally in the home half of the frame.
The Wildcats also had to rally in the eighth inning to initially tie the game at 2-2. Bryce Ortega led off the frame with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rickard. Frenzel followed with a single through the left side that moved Ortega to second and put runners at the corners. Bandy then delivered a line drive that deflected off relief pitcher Matt Flemer's leg for an infield single, which drove home Ortega from third.
Earlier, Ortega put Arizona on the board for the first time in the game with a solo home run to left field that turned a 2-0 California lead into a one-run contest.
The late-inning runs for each side overshadowed a fierce pitcher's duel that was the story over the first seven innings of the game. California starter Erik Johnson matched Heyer's 11 strikeouts with 11 of his own over seven-plus innings. Johnson scattered six hits and walked none in a no-decision effort.
California (19-8, 5-2 Pac-10) opened the scoring with an unearned run in the third and another single run in the fifth to claim a 2-0 lead.
Flemer, who took over for Johnson with a runner on base and no outs in the eighth inning, suffered the loss with the three runs allowed in the bottom of the ninth. He gave up four hits and walked two over 1.1 innings out of the bullpen.
The two clubs will take to the field on Saturday at 6 p.m. for the second game of the three-game series.