UA/Sidewinders butt heads

The Arizona baseball team got a taste of professional baseball on Tuesday night and although the final score was sour, the experience was sweet.

The Wildcats lost to the Tucson Sidewinders 8-5 at Tucson Electric Park but found several positives in their performance, mainly on the mound. Starter Pat Lawler likely earned himself a spot in Arizona's weekend rotation with a good three innings of five-hit ball while a pair of struggling relievers posted outstanding outings as well.

Lawler surrendered three runs and was charged with the loss, although he was able to limit the damage in each of his frames. Arizona's sophomore righty stranded five runners in scoring position and pitched around two errors behind him to keep the Wildcats in the game. After Brad Mills followed Lawler to the mound and gave up five runs (four earned) in his two innings of work, John Meloan and Sean Jarrett retired the next nine Sidewinders hitters in order with Meloan striking out three of the six hitters he faced.

Offensively, there were bright spots as well. Bill Rhinehart gave Arizona an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the top of the first following Jason Donald's double. Rhinehart ended his night 2-for-3 while Trevor Crowe reached base in all three of his plate appearances with two singles and a walk.

Arizona trailed 4-1 going to the fifth but scored two runs on Nick Hundley's triple to cut the deficit to 4-3. Hundley was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into an inside the park home run which turned out to be a huge play. John Hardy immediately followed with a single and advanced to third on Rhinehart's second single of the game, but both runners were stranded when Jeff Van Houten grounded out to first.

The Wildcats had another chance for a big inning in the eighth. Richard Mercado singled and was lifted for pinch runner Derek Decatur who scored on Van Houten's double. After Zach Bies was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second, Brandon Medders retired Terrence Taylor, Pat Reilly and Brad Boyer in order to end the threat.

Arizona's final run came in the ninth as Van Houten drove home Hundley with a base hit to right center field.

Photo by Carl F. Shifflette III

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