After a couple of weeks of inconsistency and covering the 2023 World Baseball Classic, it is finally time to resume covering University of Arizona baseball. Many already know that the sixth week of the season has been a very underwhelming one, with a sweep at the hands of Arizona State in Phoenix the main pain of the week. In this recap, we will discuss this weekend series and the Wildcats' return home against GCU on March 28th.
Friday, March 24th – Arizona (13-6, 3-3) at Arizona State (13-8, 2-1)
After coming off of a weekend sweep on the road against #13 UCLA and a win against Utah Tech at home, the Wildcats were on the road once again, this time against bitter rivals Arizona State. The first match kicked off at 7 pm under the Friday night lights, with the Wildcats pushing two across in the top of the 1st on RBI singles by Kiko Romero and Garen Caulfield. ASU responded in the bottom of the inning as Luke Keaschall powered a two-run homer over the wall to tie the game. In the bottom of the 3rd, he struck again, this time hitting a three-run bomb to make it 5-2 in favor of ASU. In the top of the 5th Caulfield scratched a run back for the Wildcats with an RBI single. In the bottom of the 6th, ASU gained that rub back with an RBI single by Jacob Tobias. Caulfield and Romero both hit solo homers in the 7th and 9th innings respectively, but ultimately the Wildcats couldn’t make it over the hump, losing 6-5. Matt Tieding earned the win, Blake Pivaroff the save, and TJ Nichols the loss, dropping him to 3-2 on the year.
Saturday, March 25th
Just as the night before, the Wildcats took an early lead as they pushed three runs across in the top of the 2nd inning on a SAC fly by Emilio Corona and a 2 RBI single by Mac Bingham. ASU picked a run up in the bottom of the 3rd on a Nu’u Contrades RBI double. In the bottom of the 6th, the Wildcats imploded, surrendering five runs in an inning topped off by a Contrades three-run HR. Romero would score a run for the Wildcats on a throwing error by Luke Hill in the top of the 8th, but Contrades would shut the door on the Cats with an RBI double in the bottom half of the inning, topping off a 7-4 loss for Arizona. Nolan Lebamoff earned the win, Owen Stevenson the save, and Casey Hintz the loss (0-2).
Sunday, March 26th
In the finale of the series, ASU was the ones to jump out first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the 2nd on an RBI double by Isaiah Jackson and an RBI groundout by Trey Newman. In the next half inning, Chase Davis gave the Wildcats the lead on a three-run bomb to right field. That lead was short-lived, however. In the bottom of the inning, ASU took the lead again on a solo homer by Wyatt Crenshaw followed by a SAC fly by Tobias. In the 4th, Kien Vu extended ASU’s lead on a solo HR. ASU made it 7-3 after five innings when Contrades hit a solo homer and Tobias picked up another SAC fly. In the 6th, ASU made it 10-3 on a 2 RBI single by Contrades and a solo HR by Ryan Campos. In effectively garbage time, the Wildcats made it 10-6 in the 8th inning on a Romero 2 RBI double and a Caulfield SAC fly. The score would hold and ASU finished the sweep. Timmy Manning earned the win and Aiden May was dealt the loss (2-1).
Tuesday, March 28th – Grand Canyon (15-8) at Arizona (13-9)
Looking to bounce back from a tough series sweep, the Wildcats returned to the friendly confines of Hi Corbett Field to begin a nice, long homestand. GCU opened the scoring right in the top of the 1st with an RBI single by Jacob Wilson. Davis responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run blast, giving the Wildcats the lead. In the 2nd, GCU tied it up on a Homer Bush, Jr. RBI double. In the bottom of the 2nd, Corona hit a two-run HR to make it 4-2 in favor of Arizona. Davis would hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd to make it 5-3 and then the scoring stopped for four innings. In the top of the 7th, GCU pushed four runs across on a Zack Gregory 2 RBI double, Zach Yorke RBI single, and Cade Verdusco SAC fly. In the bottom of the inning, Nik McClaughry made it 8-6 Arizona with a three-run bomb to left field. In the top of the 8th, GCU took a 9-8 lead as Bush hit a 2 RBI double and was followed by a Yorke SAC fly. In the bottom of the 9th, Arizona’s Bingham tied the game on an RBI double to send the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Corona hit an RBI single to walk it off 10-9. Trevor Long earned the win (2-1) while Hunter Omlid earned the loss.
With a month and a half left in the season, it now becomes an interesting time for the Wildcats. They now sit at 14-9 and the homestand continues this weekend as the Wildcats host the Oregon Ducks for a three-game weekend series as their sole set of games this coming week. While many are rightfully peeved with the failure to show up against bitter rivals ASU, already down 0-3 on the season to them out of four games, there is some overreaction in how bad things are going. A month and a half is still a good bit of time to right the ship and cut down on strikeouts and runs surrendered, and I’m sure Coach Hale has this in mind. All we can do is hope and see. Bear down and go Wildcats.