Arizona had a great start to the season, but had fallen on a rough patch. They swept ASU, but lost two games to Cal-Riverside. Texas was coming to town and now we would get a chance to see if the Cats were for real.
Texas was good. They were undefeated, ranked No. 1 in two polls and No. 2 in another. Sure Arizona lost two games, but they gave the Longhorns all they could handle.
Not only did they get it done on the field, the fans got it done in the stands. Despite iffy weather, a UA basketball game and spring training the Wildcats drew over 8,000 fans. Friday night, over 4,500 fans showed up.
That night the Cats lost 5-4, but looked to be the better team. An error in judgment and hit batsmen led to Texas' last run, but the Cats were actually the superior offensive team for much of the game. They stranded 12 runners and chased Texas' starter Randy Boone in the fourth. Two of Texas' runs were unearned and the go-ahead run was mostly the fault of a botched play at second base that would have ended the inning.
On Saturday the Cats jumped out to an 8-0 lead and cruised home to the 8-3 win. It was the first loss for the Longhorns on the season and a big win for the Cats who had actually lost 4-of-5 games going into that one.
They could not finish out the series with a win, but again gave the Longhorns all they could handle. The Cats showed their resiliency in battling back from a late deficit. The Cats trailed 4-2 and 5-3 but had a chance in the ninth to win the game.
For the series the Cats outscored Texas 16-13 and the two losses were close. They got solid pitching performances from John Meloan and Kevin Guyette and Sunday starter Sean Rierson was decent enough.
The Cats play in the always tough Pac-10 and Texas is as good as any team they will face. The Cats have shown that they will be factor in the conference and are probably a legitimate national title contender.
They get Mississippi State this weekend and another shot at a top program. A lot can happen between now and June, but things indeed look bright for the program.