Card Drop Opener To Arizona

Two of the best pitchers in the Pac-10 conference squared off Friday night in a battle of two of the best teams in the conference. Arizona came into the game struggling a little bit, and their starter Richie Gardner had not won since March 23rd. However, both Arizona's offense and Gardner played well enough to win by a 4-3 score. Read on for details ...

Arizona 4, Stanford 3

On a cool, rainy evening at Sunken Diamond, the Arizona Wildcats made a strong impression on the Pac-10 leaders, the Stanford Cardinal. With only seven hits, the Wildcats hit two home runs and gave John Hudgins his first loss since March 28th and only his third of the year.

Richie Gardner started for Arizona and looked good in the early going. Both he and Hudgins cruised through the first two innings with no problem. Hudgins did give up a leadoff single to Brad Boyer to start the game, but Ryan Garko promptly threw him out. Hudgins gave up just one hit through 2, and Gardner just one walk.

Stanford scored first in the third inning,. Jonny Ash led off with a single to right and was moved up a base after a Tobin Swope sac bunt. Fuld walked to put runners at first and second with Brian Hall at the plate. With the runners in motion on the first pitch, Hall stroked a single to left, scoring Ash to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead. Stanford later loaded the bases with two outs, but Danny Putnam struck out looking, leaving the bases jammed and the Cardinal up just one.

The lead lasted until the fifth inning, when the skies opened as well. Hudgins issued a one out walk to the #8 hitter Nick Hundley. With two outs and Hundley at 1st, Boyer ripped a ball off the very top of the wall in right, scoring Hundley and tying the game. Boyer ended up on third but stayed there for just five pitches, when Moises Duran homered to left on a 2-2 pitch. Arizona led 3-1. Hudgins seemed to struggle with his spikes and his control during the downpour, as several times he called time to clean out his shoes, went to the dugout once, and the Cardinal had to use Diamond Dust on the field to dry up the mound. Hudgins got out of the inning, trailing 3-1.

In the bottom half of the inning, Stanford immediately reversed the momentum. While the skies cleared, Sam Fuld started the rally with a two strike, one out single to left. After Hall flied out, Quentin walked and both Fuld and Quentin moved up a base after a Gardner wild pitch. Ryan Garko chopped a ball up the middle that looked like it would go into center. However, shortstop John Hardy cut it off, but his throw to first pulled the first baseman off the bag, scoring two runs as Quentin alertly turned third and came into score, even though the ball was in the infield. The game was tied at 3 as Garko was credited with a single and 2 RBI.

Both Hudgins and Gardner pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings, both racking up the pitches. In the eighth, Hudgins gave up a solo homer to Bryan Anderson on a 0-2 curve. The ball was low and not a bad pitch, but Anderson, who struck out twice earlier, got it all, knocking it out to left. Arizona led 4-3, with Gardner on the mound going into the ninth. Hudgins pitched all nine for the Cardinal: 9.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 154 pitches (unofficially).

Gardner retired Jonny Ash for out number one, but gave up a pinch hit single to Jed Lowrie to put the tying run on base. With a 3-2 count, Chris Lewis (running for Lowrie) took off for second while Fuld hit a grounder to short. Hardy mistakenly went to second (not in time) and then the throw to first was late as well. Now the tying run and winning runs were on base with only one out. Andy Lopez went to his bullpen after Gardner's 158 pitches (unofficially), calling upon freshman Jon Meloan, who had just one save coming into Friday. Meloan got Hall to pop foul on a 3-2 pitch, bringing up Carlos Quentin. Quentin entered Friday with a 26 game hit streak, but he was hitless Friday coming into the ninth, 0-2 with 2 BB. It was a perfect situation with the game on the line for the hot-hitting Quentin. However, he popped out to left to end the game and his hitting streak, as Arizona prevailed 4-3.

Arizona       0 0 0  0 3 0  0 1 0   -   4   7   0
Stanford      0 0 1  0 2 0  0 0 0   -   3   7   3

WP: Richie Gardner (7-1)
LP: John Hudgins (7-3)
S: John Meloan (2)

Records: Arizona (29-15, 8-5 Pac-10), Stanford (27-12, 9-4 Pac-10)

-With the loss, the Cardinal leads both Arizona and Arizona State (8-5, beat WSU 21-0) by one game.
-Carlos Quentin's hit streak ends at 26 games. It started on February 22nd against Texas and he went 51 for 103 during the streak.
-Jonny Ash was the only player on Stanford with more than one hit (2 hits, 1 2B). Brad Boyer had two hits (1B, 3B) for the Wildcats.
-Ryan Garko gunned down another runner tonight, Brad Boyer trying to steal in the first. Arizona is now 111-143 on the basepaths but did not attempt another steal tonight.
-Hudgins completed his fourth game and his second in a row in the loss.
-Stanford committed 3 errors, including 2 by 1B Donny Lucy.
-Tomorrow's Game 2 pits Sean Rierson (7-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. probable starter Mark Romanczuk (8-0, 3.57 ERA). Arizona can move into a tie for the lead in the Pac-10 with a win. Game time is 1:00 PM, and can be heard live on KZSU 90.1 FM at 12:45 with the pregame show.

Chad Goldberg is the voice of Stanford Baseball on KZSU, 90.1 FM.

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