Ninth inning rally leads Cats to win

Long Beach State pitcher Jared Weaver was as good as advertised, fortunately for the Wildcat baseball team the Dirtbags' bullpen was not as solid. Arizona scored four runs in the ninth to come from behind to win 6-5 in the first game of the best-of-three Super Regional.

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Weaver, who was a first round draft pick of the Anaheim Angels and arguably the best college pitcher in the draft, was masterful but could not close out the game. Weaver went 7 2/3 innings and struck out 12, but was pulled from the game with a 5-2 lead after throwing 136 pitches.

Koley Kolberg pitched well for most of the game, but was rocked in the fourth inning when he surrendered four runs, but was victimized by a few seeing eye singles and a fielding mishap that saw shortstop Jason Donald collide with 2B John Hardy. The collision kept the inning alive and eventually led Hardy to leave the game with a concussion.

Long Beach State looked safe with a 5-0 lead, but Kolberg and the bullpen settled down and held the Dirtbags scoreless the rest of the way.

Nick Hundley got the Wildcats on the board with a solo shot in the seventh and the Cats scratched out a run in the eighth but even with Ward out of the game the Wildcats had a huge hill to climb.

Andy Lopez told the media that he wanted the Wildcats to run up Weaver's pitch count so they could get to the bull pen and try to win the game late. That plan worked to perfection.

Arizona quickly loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, even with closer Neil Jamison coming in after the first batter reached base. Pat Riley sent a chopper down the first base line that scored a run for the Wildcats and trimmed the lead to just two runs.

Brad Boyer was the player who replaced the injured Hardy and he came up big. Despite hitting just .231 on the season, Boyer was clutch with a big single that scored Hundley and Richard Mercado to tie the game.

Trevor Crowe gave the Wildcats the lead on the very next at bat. Crowe hit a screamer to the left center gap and his triple scored Boyer and gave the Wildcats the lead.

LBSU had one last chance in the bottom of the ninth. Eventual winner Scott Burns walked the first batter and was lifted for Mark Melancon. Melancon got the next three outs, although a long fly out looked at first to be a homerun, to earn the save.

The Cats now need just one win in the next two game to advance to the College World Series.

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