Joey Rickard

Joey Rickard and the BatCats gave Kurt Heyer all the runs he needed.
Photo by Andy Morales

It started out looking like it was going to be a slugfest. And it was, but the Arizona Wildcats did all the slugging.

The Pac-12’s top offense provided more than enough support for the Pac-12’s ERA champ and the host team coasted to a 15-3 victory over Missouri on the opening day of the Tucson Regional.

If this was Kurt Heyer’s final start in Tucson he gave the UA fans a reminder why he’s one of the best to ever wear an Arizona uniform.

The junior went the distance for the sixth time in his last nine starts. Heyer’s seven complete games this year are one shy of the school’s Pac-12-era record set by Scott Erickson in 1989.

As a freshman Heyer won seven games and threw one complete game. Last year he recorded eight victories, finishing what he started twice. In 2012, it’s 12 wins and counting, with the seven complete games. And counting.

As good as Heyer was, his performance may have been overshadowed by the UA offense. That’s what happens when every slot in the lineup reaches base at least twice and you bat .541 as a team.

Missouri’s defensive alignment played a part. The Tiger outfielders, playing at Hi Corbett for the first time, were positioned noticeably shallower than their Arizona counterparts.

“They hit a lot of ground balls to start off with and I started to shade in a little bit,” MU center fielder Blake Brown said. “Right when that happened they started hitting the gaps.”

“We did beat them a few times on balls that normally don’t beat guys,” said Arizona’s Joey Rickard, who finished with a single, double, triple and four RBIs.

Next up is the turning-point game in the regional, at 8 p.m. tonight against Louisville. The winner will have two games to win once more. The loser will be faced with trying to win three times in two days to advance.

It’s critical for UA pitcher Konner Wade to get off to a good start. Heyer was able to rebound after allowing three early runs and go the final 7.1 innings without allowing a hit. Wade hasn’t shown that kind of bounce-back ability, getting knocked out before the fifth inning three times in conference play.

“Konner Wade is due to have a good outing,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said.

“Konner’s gotta come out and do something similar to what Kurt did tonight,” Lopez continued, “and give this offense a chance to stay in the game.

Kurt Heyer hopes this is the last time the home fans see him this weekend but says he’ll be ready if called upon again.

“I’ll do anything for this team,” he said. “If it comes down to that, I’ll pitch Monday.”

It would be Heyer finishing what he started one last time.

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Scott Terrell has your live game updates on Twitter with postgame reaction on Facebook.