ARIZONA BASEBALL

Mejia's slam a surprise as streak hits 13

2010-03-25T00:00:00Z Mejia's slam a surprise as streak hits 13Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 25, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Alex Mejia is the rarest of baseball players, a true freshman who possesses the glove, arm and mentality to play every day at shortstop. He's one of the Arizona Wildcats' most vocal leaders, and a favorite of the coaching staff.

But a power hitter? Not so much.

Mejia surprised his teammates - and himself - when he blasted a third-inning grand slam Wednesday afternoon to help Arizona dispatch New Mexico 11-7 for its 13th straight win.

The Wildcats (18-4) will open Pac-10 play Friday carrying their longest winning streak since 2008.

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to make contact," said Mejia, who went 1 for 5. "I was just focused on not hitting into a double play, ending an inning or ruining the momentum."

Instead, he changed the game.

Mejia drilled a chest-high fastball from UNM's Austin House over the center field fence, giving the UA a 6-1 lead in the third. Mejia's shot was aided by a stiff breeze - not that it mattered.

"If it was, I'm glad it was," he said. "It helped me out."

Arizona needed the offensive help on a day that included patchwork performances from seven pitchers. Kyle Simon, who worked the fourth through sixth innings, improved his record to 4-2.

Arizona coach Andy Lopez said he was happy for Mejia, whose .262 batting average is the lowest among the team's regulars.

Plus, Lopez said, Mejia is better at the important things - fielding, commanding the defense and keeping his teammates on task.

It's a trait Lopez saw in Mejia's father, Carlo, when the two played against each other in high school, junior college and college. Carlo Mejia was an All-America third baseman at Pepperdine University in the 1970s; Lopez was the starting shortstop and team captain at UCLA.

"When we recruited him, I said, 'If you're anywhere like your dad, we're in good shape,' " Lopez said. "His dad should be very proud. He has great presence, great makeup and he competes real well. Anything we get from him offensively is icing on the cake."

Arizona 11, New Mexico 7

N. Mexico ab r h bi Arizona ab r h bi

Courcha 2b 5 0 1 0 Rickard cf 5 2 2 2

Howard 1b 5 1 1 0 Valenzuela 1b 5 1 2 2

Juarez lf/rf 3 1 2 0 Bandy dh 5 0 0 0

Smith ph 1 0 0 0 Selsky rf 2 3 1 1

Honeycutt dh 5 2 3 0 Refsnyder lf 4 1 4 2

Held rf 1 1 0 0 Mjs-Brn 3b 3 1 1 0

Twichell ph/lf 2 1 2 0 Mejia ss 5 1 1 4

Willett cf 3 1 2 2 Meskin c 4 2 4 0

Garver c 3 0 2 3 Ortega 2b 3 0 1 0

Allbritton 3b 4 0 1 1

Gonzalez ss 4 0 0 0

Totals 36 7 14 6 Totals 36 11 16 11

New Mexico 010 200 031 - 7

Arizona 205 101 20x - 11

E: Gonzalez (9), Valenzuela (3). DP: New Mexico 1, Arizona 1. LOB: New Mexico 9, Arizona 8. 2B: Twichell 2, Garver, Allbritton, Rickard, Refsnyder. HR: Mejia (1). SB: Willett (4), Selsky 2 (6), Refsnyder (5), Meskin 2 (3). SF: Willett. S: Willett. CS: Juarez, Selsky, Refsnyder.

New Mexico IP H R ER BB SO

House L, 1-1 2 1/3 9 7 7 1 0

Mares 3 2/3 4 2 2 2 1

Nelson 1/3 2 2 1 0 0

Jaramillo 1 2/3 1 0 0 0 0

Arizona

Bill 3 4 3 3 1 2

Manthei 0 0 0 0 1 0

Simon W, 4-2 3 5 0 0 1 0

Hale 1 0 0 0 0 1

Littleman 0 3 3 2 0 0

Cunningham 1 0 0 0 0 2

Bernard 1 2 1 1 1 1

WP: House 2, Bill, Manthei. HBP: by House (Selsky), by Mares (Selsky), by Jaramillo (Refsnyder). PB: Garver. Time: 2:57. Att: 419.

Up next

• What: Oregon at Arizona

• Where: Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• When: 6 p.m. Friday

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