Arizona (7-1) continued to dominate on the diamond over the past week. The Wildcats dropped a game on the road, but picked up a home sweep over the weekend. Here’s a look at what happened over the weekend and a look ahead for the Arizona baseball team:
Tuesday– Long Beach State 5, Arizona 4: This game was strange for the Arizona Wildcats. Living in the desert, baseball games aren’t rained out very often. However, this one was suspended late on Tuesday night with Long Beach State leading 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth. The game was finished early on Wednesday, but Arizona was unable to muster a comeback with Johnny Field popping a short check swing right to the first baseman.
The Dirtbags were able to score early in the fourth inning of the game when a bouncing ball skipped off of Brandon Dixon’s glove at third base. It would have ended the inning with the score tied at one. Instead, Nick Cunningham (0-1) took the first loss of the season.
Wednesday- Arizona 3, Long Beach State 1: It didn’t take long for Arizona to bounce back and split the road series. Surprisingly enough, it was a pair of freshmen that willed the Wildcats to a victory celebration. Kevin Newman and Ryan Koziol both had two hits, though it was senior Johnny Field who drove in the first run of the game. Arizona scored in the first, second, and fourth innings, with Koziol picking up the other two RBIs, driving in Newman twice.
Tyler Crawford (1-0) went a career best 5.2 innings in the victory. He gave way to Stephen Manthei and eventually Mathew Troupe. It was Crawford’s first win of the season in his first start. The save was Troupe’s second of the year, though he would go on to pick up another later in the week.
Friday- Arizona 8, San Jose State 7: The Wildcats returned home from the road trip and almost started the long home stand with a loss. Arizona trailed for a good chunk of the game after ace pitcher Konner Wade (1-0) lost command late in the fifth inning.
Three two-out hits helped put the Spartans on top 5-4. Arizona tied the game up in the bottom of the inning, but could not muster anything else heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. San Jose State (2-5) picked up a run in the eighth and ninth to take a 7-5 lead.
The Wildcats led off the bottom of the ninth inning with two quick outs and freshman Scott Kingery was a strike away from Arizona’s first home loss of the season.
He chopped a ball to third base and was able to reach first on an error. Riley Moore and Field were able to draw walks, loading the bases and bringing Dixon to the plate. He made up for his error earlier in the week when he lined a ball to the outfield and raced around the bases, clearing them all in a 2-out, three-run walk-off triple.
Wade went seven and two-thirds of an inning, giving up six runs on nine hits. In his second start of the year, it was a polar opposite from opening weekend once the junior reached the fifth inning. He dominated the first four, but couldn’t find the strike zone consistently in the latter half of the outing. Augey Bill (2-0) pitched just two-thirds of the ninth inning and picked up the win for the Wildcats.
Saturday- Arizona 15, San Jose State 4: After having to come back the night before, Arizona came out swinging the bats on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats scored early and often in a rout over the Spartans.
Dixon and Newman led the way for Arizona with three RBIs each. Newman was the big winner of the day, reaching base three times, scoring three runs, and adding the three runs batted in. Koziol and pinch hitter Cody Ramer also got in on the fun, adding two RBIs each as well.
James Farris pitched well for Arizona, going seven and a third innings before handing the reigns over to Cody Moffett. The freshman shut the door on San Jose State, allowing just a single hit and walk in an inning and two-thirds.
Sunday- Arizona 9, San Jose State 4: It seemed as if San Jose State had finally found out how to stop Arizona. For six innings, the Wildcats couldn’t get a hit. With a 3-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, things looked grim for Arizona.
That was when Moore singled to lead off the frame with Field and Dixon walking behind him to load the bases. Trent Gilbert singled home Moore and the flood gates opened. Newman and Koziol drew walks to tie the game and Ramer and Joseph Maggi both had singles to give Arizona a 5-3 lead after seven.
Arizona added four more runs in the bottom of the eighth, helped by another bases-loaded walk and the following hit-by-pitch.
Manthei showed his flashes of dominance in this game again as he went seven and two-thirds innings giving up just six hits and four runs. He only struck out three, but threw an economical 81 pitches on the day. Troupe came in and locked it down for the Wildcats. He allowed two base runners via a hit and a walk, but got strikeouts for two of his four outs. It was his third save of the season.
In the weekend opener, Field did something that Arizona batters didn’t do very often last season. With two runners on base in the bottom of the third inning, the reigning Pac-12 batting champion squared up a pitch perfectly.
The ball landed over the left field wall and Field was credited with his first home run of the season and the Wildcats' only round-tripper in eight games.
It would be easy to say that the Wildcats may have the most potent offense in the Pac-12 so far after scoring thirteen or more runs in half of the first eight games. It is another thing completely to back it up with statistics. Through the first two weekends of play, Arizona has the top four RBI leaders in the conference and five of the top eight.
True freshman Ryan Koziol leads the Pacific-12 conference with twelve runs batted in. Brandon Dixon and Trent Gilbert are tied for second with eleven apiece and Johnny Field is in fourth with ten. There are three Washington State players filling in spots five through seven, but another Arizona freshman, Kevin Newman, sits in eighth with seven RBIs.
Looking at the Wildcats from a team perspective, the offense is by far the best in the conference. Arizona currently leads the conference in batting average, runs, triples, RBI, hit batsmen, and strikeouts. The biggest gap between first and second comes in with runs. Arizona has scored 82 runs on the year, while Oregon State has just 55 with the second highest total.
Despite only dropping one game, the Wildcats currently sit at second place in the conference standings. Oregon State has started the season undefeated, winning games against Utah Valley, Gonzaga, UC-Riverside, and San Diego State. Oregon sits in third place with a 6-1 record having lost to LMU.
Utah Valley: Arizona will be heading into the game with Utah Valley (3-4) on a hot streak. The Wildcats have won four in a row and 12 in a row at Hi Corbett Field. It won’t be an easy two game series for the Wildcats, but it isn’t hard to see them heading into the weekend on a six-game winning streak.
Last season, the Wolverines beat the Wildcats for the first time in sixteen tries over the past seven years. It remains their only win over Arizona in the history of the series. Tyler Crawford will take the mound on Tuesday, going against Andrew Freter (0-0), while Cody Moffett will get his first career start on Wednesday against Ty Hansen (0-0).
San Francisco: The Dons will be heading to Tucson trying to find themselves. So far in the young season, San Francisco has just three wins, but five losses, as it was swept on opening weekend at home by Cal Polytechnic State.
Arizona will send Konner Wade to the mound to face Adam Cimber (0-1), Travis Farris to face Alex Balog (1-0), and Stephen Manthei against Sheldon Lee (0-1).