No. 9 Wildcats Take Series Opener 9-3

TUCSON, Ariz. - The ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats got timely two-out hitting and a season-best 16-strikeout performance by its pitching corps to hand No. 16 Mississippi State a 9-3 loss, its first of the season.

Eight of UA's nine runs scored with two outs, including four unearned runs in the second frame that gave the homestanding Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish.

State (8-1) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off UA starter John Meloan (3-0). Second baseman Jeffrey Rea, back in the lineup after missing four games with a pulled hamstring, opened the game with a single and scored following singles by Brad Corley and Joseph Hunter. Hunter, who missed the past two starts with an ankle injury, singled in MSU's second run of the game in the third inning.

MSU senior starter Alan Johnson (1-1) struck out the first two batters he faced before Jordan Brown singled up the middle and raced home with the tying run on a triple by Nick Hundley. A walk, a fielding error and three consecutive two-out hits by the Wildcats made it a 4-1 UA lead in the second. Arizona struck for three more runs off Johnson in the third and added an unearned run off Bulldog relief pitcher Eric Ebers in the fourth to take control of the game.

Solid pitching by AU kept the Bulldogs at bay for much of the game. Meloan, charged with all three Bulldog runs, gave up seven hits, walked two but finished his six-inning mound stint with nine strikeouts. Sean Jarrett and Mark Melancon added seven strikeouts between them in three innings of no-hit, shutout relief.

Jeff Van Houten and Jordan Brown each went 3-for-5 to pace the Wildcats' 12-hit plate showing.

Rea and Hunter led the Bulldogs with two hits each. Freshman third baseman Ed Easley had the Bulldogs' lone extra-base hit of the night, racing the base paths with a triple in the seventh inning and scoring moments later on Rea's second single of the game.

Bulldog junior first baseman Brad Jones saw his team-leading eight-game hitting streak come to a close in MSU's first loss of the year, while MSU's top hitter beginning the series, freshman shortstop Bunky Kateon, was the victim of four of the 16 strikeouts by Wildcat pitching.

Johnson gave up eight runs (four earned) on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts, while Ebers gave up three hits, walked one and struck out one in his season-longest four-inning mound stint.

The game included a 13-minute delay when the sprinkler system came on in the outfield.

The series continues Saturday with a 5 p.m. (CST) game at UA's Kindall Stadium/Frank Sancet Field, then concludes Sunday with a 1 p.m. (CST) matchup. MSU senior Todd Doolittle (1-0, 0.00) takes the mound Saturday and sophomore Josh Johnson (1-0, 4.00) is set to start in Sunday's series finale.


MSU (8-1) 101 000 100 --- 3-7-3
UA (13-5) 140 310 00x --- 9-12-0

WP - John Meloan (3-0). LP - Alan Johnson (1-1). T - 3:09. ATT - 802.

MSU NOTES: Four former Bulldogs currently in pro baseball spring training camps in Arizona attended Friday night's game: outfielder Jon Knott and pitchers Mark Freed, Brandon Medders, and Chris Young. Two other former Diamond Dogs, Mike Smith from Tucson and Bobby Kocol from Denver, Colo., were also among the estimated 75 Bulldog fans in the stands at Kindall Stadium.

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