Sunday, June 20, 2004 • Box score
Living on the edge continues to agree with the Arizona baseball team.
The Wildcats, who needed to win six of their past seven series just to get to the College World Series, sparkled in Sunday's Bracket One elimination game at Rosenblatt Stadium.
First baseman Jordan Brown hammered home runs in his first two at-bats, and starting pitcher John Meloan allowed only five hits in 6 1/3 innings to lead a 7-2 victory over Arkansas before an estimated 21,000 fans.
Arizona Coach Andy Lopez said the fact that it was win-orgo-home day never came up among his team Sunday.
"Someone is going to say, 'Oh, come on! That's just a coach's thing to say after you come through an elimination game,'" he said.
"But I can think of so many series that we had to win the game on Sunday to keep going. One thing this group has done the last two months is gotten up on Sunday mornings, had breakfast and said, 'Hey, we're going to win today.'"
A win wasn't in the works for Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn.
Being ousted after back-toback losses left Van Horn, who led Nebraska to the CWS in 2001 and 2002, as the only coach in tournament history to lose his first six games in Omaha.
A testy exchange about that fact occurred during postgame interviews.
When asked why he hasn't won a CWS game, Van Horn said: "The other team outscored us six times. Ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer.''
When asked if he wished he had done anything different, he said: "Yeah. Won.''
Beating Arizona (36-26-1) might not have been easy for anyone Sunday.
"We put together a pretty good ballgame,'' Lopez said. "John Meloan pitched well. We got very good relief pitching out of Mark Melancon. We ran the bases extremely well. And we got some base hits in terms of the long ball.''
Meloan boosted his record to 10-0. Melancon helped him out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the seventh by allowing only one run to score, earning his third save.
The offensive punch came from Brown, who produced his fourth two-homer game of the season, and third baseman Moises Duran.
Brown hit a solo home run to right in the third inning for the game's first run. In the fourth, Duran hit a two-run homer with nobody out, and Brown added another two-run shot with two outs to boost the Arizona lead to 5-0.
In Friday's 8-7 loss to Georgia, Brown batted third in the order. On Sunday, the left-hander was dropped to eighth while facing a left-hander.
He said the move down in the order added no element of motivation to his play.
"As long as I'm playing on a stage like this, where I'm hitting doesn't really mean much,'' said the sophomore from Vacaville, Calif. "As long as I get my hacks.
"If you need an extra motive to do well on a stage like this, then you're in the wrong sport.''
Not much went right for Arkansas (45-24) from the beginning, including a couple of head-scratching strategic moves.
In the bottom of the first inning, the first two batters walked. But No. 3 hitter Clay Goodwin struck out fouling off a sacrifice bunt attempt with two strikes. Then cleanup hitter Scott Hode grounded into a double play.
Another odd maneuver occurred in the Arkansas fifth.
The Hogs, down 5-0, loaded the bases with no one out. Right fielder Scott Bridges, who homered in Friday's loss to Texas, then bunted. A run scored, but the pitcher threw him out. Two strikeouts around a walk then killed the threat.
"That's our old nemesis -- get them over, get them in,'' Van Horn said. "We didn't get them in. And one time we didn't even get them over. That was the most disappointing part.
"But I told these guys they need to walk out of here with their heads held high.''
-- Lee Barfknecht