The victory snapped a three-game winless streak against the Anteaters, improved Arizona to 31-24-1 for the year and moved them into a second round game with fourth-seed Kent State on Saturday. The Golden Flashes upset host school Notre Dame 2-1 in the opening game of the regional on Friday .
With the game against UCI tied at 2-2 after three innings, Decater launched a leadoff home run over the wall in right field off of UCI starter Brett Smith (8-6) in the fourth to hand the Wildcats a one-run lead. The homer was the first of the season for the Arizona centerfielder and snapped a slump that saw him go 0 for 16 over the last six games of the regular season. He finished the night against UCI 2 for 4 with a RBI and a run scored.
Brown followed Decater's blast with a solo shot of his own over the right field wall in the top of the fifth to hand Arizona a 4-2 advantage. Brown's four-bagger was his team-leading 11th of the year and his third in the last two games.
The four runs eventually proved to be enough, but Kolberg (9-6) walked a fine line all night as he battled out of pair of bases loaded situations early to strand seven Anteater runners on base over six innings. Reliever Burns came on in the seventh after Kolberg had walked the first two batters he faced in the inning and got out of the frame without giving up a run.
The combined effort earned Kolberg (6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) his team-leading ninth win of the season and Burns (3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) his third save of the year.
Smith, who picked up his second win of the season against the Wildcats in Tucson on Feb. 20, was charged with the loss after giving up six runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out and six and walked two on the night
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first scoring a pair of runs on two hits. Sophomore Trevor Crowe led off the game with a five-pitch walk and advanced to second on a balk by Smith.
Junior Jeff Van Houten drove Crowe home from second two pitches later with a single past starter Smith up the middle for the first hit in the game. After a fly out by Jordan Brown, a stolen base by Van Houten and a walk to Moises Duran placed runners on first and second for freshman Jason Donald with one out. The shortstop drove a ball to center off of Smith that was caught for the second out in the inning, but was deep enough for Van Houten to tag up and move to third.
Donald's fly out resulted in a run in the next at bat when Richard Mercado singled to shortstop and drove in Van Houten from third for a 2-0 lead.
UCI rallied to tie the game at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of third on a RBI-single by catcher Mark Wagner that scored Matt Fisher and an error by Decater on Wagner's hit, his first of the season, that allowed a second run to score. However, Kolberg settled down to end the inning without any further damage.
The Wildcats tacked on three runs in the seventh inning for a 7-2 lead on a RBI double by pinch hitter Brad Boyer and a two-run single by Richard Mercado. UCI inched closer with a lone run in the bottom of the eighth off of Burns, but stranded two of its 12 runners left on base in the game when the inning ended. Offensively, Arizona finished the game with 10 hits, including two doubles and the pair of home runs. Mercado lead all players with three RBI on a pair of hits in four at bats. Van Houten (2 for 5, RBI, run) and Brown (2 for 5, 2 runs, RBI) each added a pair of hits in the victory.
The Wildcats, who last win in a postseason game came on May 31, 1993 when they defeated Oklahoma State 4-0 in Stillwater, will take on the Golden Flashes at 1:05 pm Tucson time. Sophomore Kevin Guyette (6-6) will take the mound as the starter for the Wildcats.