Kurt Heyer tossed his fifth complete game of the season and Alex Mejia had two RBI and a handful of game-changing defensive plays as Arizona defeated California, 3-1, on Friday.
May 11, 2012
Arizona 3, California 1 (Box Score)
BERKELEY, Calif. - Kurt Heyer threw his fifth complete game of the season, Alex Mejia drove in two runs and executed a hidden ball trick, and the 14th-ranked Arizona baseball team came from behind to take the series opener from host California, 3-1, on Friday afternoon at Evans Diamond.
Heyer improved to 9-2 on the season as he racked up nine strikeouts, scattered five hits and walked just one batter. The lone run he allowed was unearned in the first inning without a hit. In fact, he carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before a one-out base hit snapped a string of 12-consecutive batters retired.
Mejia, an 2011 all-conference shortstop, drove in Arizona's first two runs of the game, the first coming on an infield single in the top of the third that tied the game, and second coming on a bases-loaded walk to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning.
His best was yet to come.
With Arizona holding a narrow one-run lead, two soft singles and a two-out error left the bases loaded for California in the bottom of the seventh. Brenden Farney slapped a grounder deep in the hole on the left side, where Mejia made a swift backhanded stop and fired across the diamond for the third out.
An inning later and trailing by two runs, the Golden Bears tallied a pair of leadoff singles, the second coming off the bat of Andrew Knapp that moved Danny Oh to second base. Left fielder Johnny Field picked up the line drive single and tossed it back to the infield where Mejia took the ball.
Mejia walked the ball towards Heyer and bluffed an exchange behind the mound. Mejia then assumed his normal defensive position at shortstop as Heyer, still behind the mound, awaited the next hitter. Oh took his lead off from second, and Mejia moved in to tag him out to complete a rare hidden ball trick.
Heyer retired the next two hitters he faced and worked into the ninth inning, when Mejia made another outstanding play. Vince Bruno hit a liner destined for left-center, except that Mejia perfectly timed his leap and snared it out of the air for the first out.
From there, Heyer induced a groundout and then struck out Darrel Mathews, who earlier broke up the no-hit bid with an infield hit, to end the game.
Arizona (31-15, 14-8 Pac-12) forced California (25-20, 9-13 Pac-12) to go the bullpen early. Starter Michael Theofanopoulos lasted just 4.1 innings after giving up two runs on three hits and three walks.
Trailing by a run, the Wildcats tied the game in the top of the third. With runners on the corners and two down, Mejia hit an infield single deep in the hole on the left side to drive in Trent Gilbert with the tying run.
Theofanopoulos (L, 4-5) ran into trouble again in the top of the fifth. For the second time in the game, Gilbert drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Brandon Dixon. Joey Rickard then followed with a walk that ended Theofanopoulos' outing.
Michael Lowden took over and followed by issuing consecutive walks to Field and Mejia, which forced in the go-ahead run and prompted another pitching change.
Chris Muse-Fisher entered to face Robert Refsnyder with one down and the bases loaded. The left-hander was able to induce an inning-ending double play to escape the jam and limit UA's lead to just 2-1.
In the top of the eighth, Refsnyder blasted a two-out solo home run onto the roof of the recreation building deep over the left field wall. The key insurance run marked his team-leading fifth homer of the season.
The Golden Bears lone run of the game was an unearned run in the bottom of the first, which came without a base hit. Oh was hit by a pitch to lead off, then stole second base one out later. Catcher Riley Moore's throw to second was errant and allowed Oh to advance to third on the play. Mitch Delfino then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Oh.
The two teams continue the three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. PDT at Evans Diamond.