In this week’s Weekly Run-down, I’ll be bringing to you a recap of Week 8 of the University of Arizona baseball season. Before getting to that, here are the quick results from Week 7 (3/31 to 4/6). Over the weekend of April 1st-3rd, Arizona handled their business well against Pac-12 foes in Washington, sweeping them in the three-game set, the scores being 8-3, 6-2, and 7-6 (11 innings). On the following Tuesday, April 5th, the Wildcats made the trip to Phoenix to play their old rivals, falling to Arizona State 10-6. In this week’s recap, I’ll go over the scores of the games between 4/7 and 4/13 and the schedule to come for the Wildcats. Without further ado, let’s begin.
4/8 – Washington State (10-18, 2-10) at #11 Arizona (21-8, 9-3)
Entering into yet another Pac-12 match-up on the weekend, Arizona seemed poised to handle Washington State, a team that had been struggling to find their footing in the season thus far. Washington State entered the series in terrible shape, coming off a 12-0 blasting at the hands of #15 Gonzaga and a 2-10 record in their last 12, with their wins coming on March 16th and April 3rd, a 10-game skid between. While oftentimes a team coming in in shape like that can lie down and die, they can also aim to punch someone above them in the jaw, just ask the Sugar Skulls on April 9th.
At first it seemed the game would go in Arizona’s favor as Noah Turley smashed a grand slam to center field to make it 4-0 in the bottom of the 1st. The 2nd went swiftly and silently before WSU put up a five-spot in the top of the 3rd to take the lead. In the 4th, they made it 8-4 with another trio of runs, beginning to take hold of the game. In the 5th an Elijah Hainline single made it 9-4 and in the 6th Justin Van De Brake made it 11-4 on a 2-RBI single to right field. Afterwards, both bullpens locked the game down, the only other score coming in the bottom of the 6th as a Garen Caulfield double brought Tommy Splaine in and only made the final score 11-5 in favor of Washington State.
Cougar starter Cole McMillan earned himself the win on 108 pitches as he persevered through 5.2 innings where he gave up five hits, five runs, three walks and hit three batters while striking out one. He now sits at 2-3 on the season. Arizona starter TJ Nichols meanwhile falls to 4-2 on the year as he barely lasted three full innings, giving up six hits, seven runs, three walks, and notched a strikeout.
4/9 – Game 2
In the Saturday night middle match, WSU started out quickly, jumping on the scoreboard in the top of the 2nd as a dropped third strike allowed Collin Montez to score. In the 3rd, they made it 2-0 as Jack Smith hit an RBI ground out, bringing an unearned run in. In the 4th, Arizona experienced a brief explosion of offense as they surged to take a 5-2 lead. WSU responded in the 5th with two of their own, making it a close 5-4 ballgame into the 8th. WSU’s Kyle Russell proved to be the difference maker as he singled in the 8th and 9th to bring in the tying and winning runs, Arizona unable to respond, falling 6-5.
Washington State’s Chase Grillo earned his first win of the year out of the bullpen (1-0) as he hurled two one-hit innings that included three key strikeouts to hold the Wildcats off the board in the end of the game following Grant Taylor’s seven inning start. Arizona’s Holden Christian falls to 2-2 on the year now after failing to keep WSU off the board in a tie ballgame, his 1.2 innings of work holding two hits, the winning run, two walks, and two strikeouts.
4/10 – Game 3
By the time first pitch came around on Sunday at noon, the tone of this game for Arizona was now to get at least one and avoid the sweep by an opponent many thought they’d handle coming in. Luckily for Arizona, their pitching found a way to silence the Cougar bats, holding them off the board until the 8th. Garen Caulfield hit an RBI groundout in the 2nd to open the score before a three-run 4th inning made it a 4-0 ballgame. In the 5th, Daniel Susac added an insurance run with a solo HR to left. WSU’s Bryce Matthews ultimately broke up the shutout in the 8th with a two-RBI single that made the final score 5-2.
Arizona’s Chandler Murphy earned himself his first win of the year (1-0) on a strong five innings of work in which he surrendered only five hits, no runs, no walks, and K’d two. Closer Trevor Long came in and notched his second save of the season on an inning of one-hit ball with nothing else across the board. WSU’s McKabe Cottrell fell to 1-6 on the year as he gave up five hits, four runs, four walks and only strikeout one over 3.1 innings of work.
4/12 – New Mexico State - Las Cruces (12-17) at #20 Arizona (22-10)
Entering the Tuesday night game in Tucson, NM State came in in rough shape, having dropped 2/3 to Grand Canyon the week prior, a one-off game against the NM State Lobos, and 2/3 to Sacramento State at home. Arizona had seen itself drop nine places in the national rankings, making this matchup a bit of an eager one to regain their footing and ascend upward.
Arizona jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st as a Chase Davis single brought in a pair of runners. From there, both pitching staffs worked masterfully, keeping each other off the board until the 8th inning. NMSU’s Preston Godfrey broke the shutout by lining a triple down the right field line, tying the game by bringing in two. In the bottom half of the inning, Garen Caulfield brought in the game winning runs with a two-RBI single up the middle, earning the Wildcats the hard fought 4-2 win.
Arizona’s Trevor Long moves to 2-0 on the year after coming in to relieve Holden Christian, the pitcher responsible for the tying runs and giving the others a no decision for the night. Long pitched two no-hit innings, only giving up a walk and striking out four en route to the win. NM State reliever Cade Swenson falls to 1-2 on the year as on only 0.1 innings of work he surrendered a hit, the game winning runs, and a walk, taking the loss and ensuring the starter picked up the no decision.
With Week 8 in the books, now let’s take a look ahead at the Week 9 match-ups Arizona will get to face. In a series that already started this morning, the Wildcats take on Pac-12 rival Utah in Salt Lake City in a three-game set from April 14th to the 16th. The results of today’s game will be covered in next week’s Run-down. Afterwards, Arizona heads out to Omaha, Nebraska to play Creighton in a two-game set on Monday and Tuesday, the 18th and 19th.
After the last week and including today’s game, Arizona now finds itself on top of the Pac-12 with a 24-10 overall record and an 11-5 record against Pac-12 opponents. They have little breathing room, however, as Oregon State trails with a 24-7 record, and a 10-5 conference record. In third is UCLA, who sits at 23-9 and 8-4. With this in mind, Arizona has to keep the foot on the gas. Bear down.