Mental fortitude -- the Arizona baseball team has it.
An offense capable of surmounting large, early deficits -- it's there.
Against an unfazed St. John's Red Storm team Friday in Tucson, the Arizona Wildcats needed both of the above to claim a walk-off, 7-6 victory in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regionals.
Freshman Trent Gilbert was the hero of the day, hitting in the winning score with the bases loaded in the 10th inning. He also hit a triple in the sixth inning, the first run of three in the sixth that would end with a tie score of 5-5.
Through the first three uneventful three innings, the Wildcats were cold. St. John's exploded in the top of the fourth inning for five runs on Heyer, and Arizona could only muster one run themselves in their half of the frame.
Though the stone-faced pitcher gave up 17 hits and six earned runs, Heyer calmed down thereafter, going 9.1 innings before being replaced by closer Mathew Troupe. As the Wildcats whittled away at the Johnnies' lead, the mental resolve shown by Heyer defined his team as a whole while St. John's at times looked rattled.
It was the Johnny Field pop-up in the fifth that was dropped by Red Storm centerfielder Kyle Richardson, allowing Joey Rickard to score the tying run from third.
Meanwhile, Arizona made all the big plays needed to scratch out the victory.
On the afternoon, this wasn't the Wildcats' own explosive offense that has thus far defined their postseason. Instead, Arizona slowly chipped away at the deficit. After Bobby Brown knocked in the first run in the fourth, Johnny Field recorded his own RBI single in the fifth to bring the score to 5-2.
Field, who with Gilbert led UA with 2 RBI, added another score in the fifth inning before the three-run sixth.
The Johnnies scored on a double in the 10th frame before Lopez pulled Heyer, but Troupe got out of the inning before the Wildcats went on to load the bases, then score the final run for the victory.
The Wildcats only needed four strikeouts to hold St. John's to six runs on 18 total hits. On the other side, Arizona crossed the plate seven times on just 11 hits.
Now, Lopez's squad will head to a 12 p.m. PT first pitch tomorrow at Hi Corbett Field, a win punching their ticket to Omaha.