The Weekly Run-down: Falling Behind
Another week in the books and this time it’s a bit more disappointing. Despite the Wildcats going 3-2 in this last week’s bout of games, their efforts have thus far led to them falling from Top 25 status. Effectively we find ourselves in the middle of the season with exactly one month of regular season left to go. We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. Let’s take the time and look back at Arizona’s Week 9.
4/14 - #20 Arizona (23-10, 10-5) at Utah (18-13-1, 5-7), Game 1
Entering a three-game weekend set out at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, we got ourselves a solid match-up between two Pac-12 rivals, one on the rise and the other working its way through the season. Utah entered the series at home 3-4 in their last seven ballgames, coming fresh off a series loss to #15 UCLA at home that included a 6-5 10 inning affair in game one. Utah was able to avoid the sweep on Sunday April 10th with a 7-6 victory, giving some momentum as their homestand continued.
Game 1, starting at 10 am MST on Thursday, was a chilly one, barely 46 degrees out on a cloudy day where only 837 attended due to a frankly terribly scheduled game. Both teams scored in the first inning with Arizona first going up 2-0 in the top of the inning before Utah stormed back to make it 3-2. In the bottom of the 3rd, Utah extended the lead to 5-2 with a pair of runs. In the top of the 5th, showed off his power and clutch as he nailed a grand slam to right center field to storm back and take the lead 6-5. In the 6th, Daniel Susac hit an RBI double to left to make it 7-5. Utah would respond in the 7th with a Jayden Kiernan RBI fielder’s choice but would ultimately fall short as the bullpen held them silent for the rest of the game, the final 7-6 Arizona.
Arizona’s TJ Nichols improved to 5-2 on the season after a solid performance in which he went 6.1 innings, surrendering 12 hits, six runs, two walks, and striking out four. Closer Trevor Long picked up his third save of the year as he pitched 1.1 no-hit innings that included a walk and two strikeouts. Utah’s Matthew Sox, despite his best efforts, drops to 2-2 on the year as he gave up eight hits, seven runs (five earned), four walks, and notched two strikeouts on six innings of work. Both pitchers threw over 100 pitches, with 104 for Nichols and 102 for Sox.
4/15 – Game 2
Another cold 10 am start, game two garnered only 920 spectators on a Friday with showers. This match started quickly in Utah’s favor as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd. In the top of the 3rd, Mac Bingham responded with a two-run homer that cut the deficit to one. In the 4th, Utah’s Davis Cop made it 4-2 on a solo HR. In the top of the 5th, Daniel Susac kept pace with an RBI single to make it 4-3. In the bottom of the 5th, the wheels fell of the bus for the Wildcats as Utah stormed for four runs, making the lead 8-3. In the top of the 7th, Tanner O’Tremba tried to invigorate the offense with a two-run HR, but Utah made it 9-5 in the bottom of the inning off a Davis Cop single, the score holding for the rest of the game.
Utah reliever Dusty Schramm moves to 4-0 on the year as his 1.1 one-hit innings helped to stymie the Wildcat offense and let his own take the mantle. Closer B. Whiting picks up his fifth save of the season on 2.2 no-hit innings of work with two walks and two strikeouts. Arizona’s Garrett Irvin fell to 3-2 on the year, lasting only three innings in which he surrendered four hits, three runs, two walks, and picked up a strikeout.
4/16 – Game 3
On Saturday morning, first pitch was once again at 10 am MST. 1,133 came out to watch the game as it was a more hospitable 54 degrees at game time. In the 1st, Daniel Susac got the Wildcats on the board as he grounded into a double play that scored the runner Nik McClaughry. In the 2nd, McClaughry made it 3-0 on a two-RBI single. In the bottom of the inning, Utah scratched two back to make it 3-2. In the top of the 3rd, Tanner O’Tremba blasted a solo shot to left center field, Arizona’s last run of the game. In the bottom half of the inning, Utah surged back with a six-run inning to take the lead 8-4. In the 7th, they tacked on three more insurance runs to take the game and the series 11-4.
Utah reliever Ben Kibbe picked up his first win of the year (1-0) as he pitched 1.2 one-hit innings with two walks to help transition and let the bullpen take hold. Zac McCleve notched his third save of the year on 3.2 one-hit innings of work with a walk and four strikeouts. Arizona’s starter Chandler Murphy dropped to 1-1 on the year as he was shelled in 2.2 innings, giving up seven hits, eight runs, three walks, and picked up three strikeouts.
4/18 – Arizona (24-12) at Creighton (21-8)
Starting a two-game set on Monday at 4 pm MST, Arizona found themselves now outside of the Top 25, their results ultimately not worthy. Looking to rebound from the series against Utah, they travelled out to Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska to play Creighton of the Big East Conference. Creighton came in hot, having just swept St. John’s over the weekend in Queens, N.Y., the results close ones, however.
To start, both pitching staffs put out masterpieces, a scoreless pitching duel lasting the first six innings of the ballgame. In the top of the 7th, Arizona finally cracked the scoreboard as Tony Bullard launched a solo HR to left to make it 1-0. In the 8th, Arizona put up another three runs and in the 9th they tacked on a pair to make the final score 6-0 as the pitching staff forced Creighton to put up a goose egg in front of 1,510.
In this game it was a staff effort as Arizona and Creighton used five and six pitchers respectively. Arizona’s reliever Anthony Susac ultimately moved up to 2-1 on the year with the win, going three innings with two hits, a walk, and five strikeouts. Creighton reliever D. Hammond dropped to 0-1 on the year as his single inning that included the Tony Bullard homer and two strikeouts ultimately proved to be the deciding factor. No pitcher in this one pitched more than 3.2 innings.
4/19 – Game 2
A late Tuesday evening affair, game two started positively for Creighton as A. Roden grounded in a run to make it 1-0 in the 1st inning. Unfortunately for Creighton, that would ultimately be their sole run as they were shut out the rest of the game in front of a crowd of 1,269. Creighton’s staff held Arizona off the board until the 6th, where the Wildcats scored three to make it 3-1, the ultimately final score as the Creighton staff shut Arizona down the remainder of the game.
In this one, Arizona would use six pitchers while Creighton used four. Arizona reliever George Arias, Jr. earned himself the win, improving to 2-1 on the year as he pitched two shutout innings with two hits, two walks, and a strikeout. Trevor Long came in and closed the game in the 9th, earning his fourth save of the year on a one-hit inning and a strikeout. Creighton reliever P. Bergstrom dropped to 3-2 on the year as in 0.1 innings of work he surrendered all three runs to Arizona on two hits, a walk, and a strikeout.
With the results in hand, now let’s look at how it affects the Pac-12 standings. Arizona (26-12, 11-7) now sits at 3rd in the conference as Oregon State (28-8, 10-5) and Oregon (25-11, 10-5) passed up the Wildcats, with Oregon ahead solely on conference losses. Just behind Arizona sits Stanford (21-11, 11-7), who can pass up the Wildcats on conference wins pending their next results. Arizona will have to really bear down and get momentum going in the week to come if they hope to regain the pole position in the Pac-12. Arizona’s Week 10 will start tomorrow, April 22nd as the Wildcats will host their bitter rivals Arizona State in a three-game weekend set. Afterwards, they will head out on Tuesday, April 26th to play New Mexico State, Las Cruces. Bear down.