ASU continues diamond dominance

For seven innings Saturday night, Arizona and Arizona State were locked in a pitcher's duel at Kindall Field, but with one swing from Josh Asanovich, that all changed.

ASU's junior third baseman launched a grand slam off Wildcat reliever Mark Melancon after a prolonged at-bat in the top of the eighth inning to provide the Sun Devils the cushion they needed in a 7-2 win. The victory is ASU's fourth straight over Arizona this year and seventh in a row dating back to last season.

"It's a bitter pill to swallow," UA coach Andy Lopez said. "But credit Asanovich. It was an example of a junior hitter having a better at-bat versus a freshman pitcher and the freshman lost."

But not without a fight. Melancon made several quality pitches that were fouled off before missing with a fastball that Asanovich hit over the wall in left center for his fourth home run of the season.

"We always talk about the importance of location over velocity," Lopez said. "We wanted a fastball on the outer half and it was middle in and there's the result."

The slam ended what had been a great duel between Wildcat starter Kevin Guyette and ASU starter Jason Urquidez. Guyette allowed three straight hits to start the game, including a two-run homer to Travis Buck, before settling in and allowing just one run over his next six innings. Urquidez was even better, allowing just three hits and striking out nine in his 7 1/3.

"I thought Guyette did a magnificent job, but it's tough to win when you only get four hits," Lopez said. "Urquidez looked special. He made pitches when he had to and a couple of our guys really struggled against him."

The top four hitters in Arizona's order went 0-13 against the Sun Devil right-hander, who improved his record to 11-2 with the win. Richard Mercado picked up a two-out RBI single in the second and Derek Decatur drove home a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. No other Wildcat base runner made it past second until Decatur reached third in the eighth after Urquidez had already departed.

The Wildcats (27-23-1) now face a must win situation on Sunday afternoon to keep realistic postseason hopes alive. John Meloan (6-0 4.95) will get the start for Arizona while the Sun Devils (39-13) counter with Brett Bordes (3-0 6.00). Meloan is undefeated in his career as a starter, posting a 6-0 mark over the last two years. He's faced the Sun Devils once, working a scoreless inning of relief. Bordes will be making his second start of the year against the Wildcats. On February 24th at Packard Stadium, Bordes tossed six shutout innings against Arizona with 10 strikeouts to earn his second career win.

First pitch is at 1:00 Sunday afternoon with senior day festivities beginning around 12:30.

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