A new semester means that finally, a new season of Arizona Wildcats baseball is finally upon us. Just like last year, it is time for the Weekly Rundowns to return. This season the cutoffs for every week will be every Wednesday of the season, so for this first week it is February 15th to today, the 22nd. Over this last weekend, the University of Arizona participated in the MLB Desert Invitational which included some tough opposition. Without further ado, let’s see what went down.
Friday, Feb 17th – vs. #2 Tennessee
To open up their season, the Wildcats had by far their toughest foe to face, the #2 Tennessee Volunteers. Taking place at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona, home of the Diamondbacks in Spring Training, the first pitch was at 6:07 pm. As the “visiting” team, Tennessee went on offense first and immediately put up their sole run of the game on a Zane Denton SAC fly to center field. Arizona responded in the bottom half of the 1st with a Mac Bingham SAC fly to even the score. In the bottom of the 2nd, Tony Bullard smashed his first homer of the year to make it 2-1 and Bingham notched an RBI double in the 8th to earn the final score of 3-1. TJ Nichols earned his first win of the year while teammate Trevor Long picked up his first save. Tennessee’s Chase Dollander was assessed the loss.
Saturday, Feb 18th – vs. Fresno State (0-1)
For their second match, Arizona faced off against Fresno State at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona, the Spring Training home of the Chicago Cubs. Starting out around 1 pm, the game proved to run out of Arizona’s hands quickly. Fresno State jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning and the Wildcats were stymied by the Bulldog pitching. In the top of the 4th, Ben Newton extended the lead to three with an RBI single, and in the 8th, teammate Payton Allen made it the final score of 5-0 off of a two-run HR. Jake Dixon picked up the win and his teammate Trevor Garcia earned the save while Arizona’s Anthony “Tonko” Susac earned the loss.
Sunday, Feb 19th – at Michigan State (2-0)
In the penultimate match of the tournament, the Wildcats “visited” Michigan State once again in Scottsdale. Starting at 6 pm, the match started as a pitching duel for the first two innings. In the top of the 3rd, Chase Davis picked up his first HR of the year, a two-run shot to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Michigan State responded Bryan Broecker picked up an RBI SAC fly to make it 2-1. From there, Arizona dominated as in the 4th Tyler Casagrande picked up an RBI single. In the 5th, Chase Davis picked up another solo homer. In the 6th, the Wildcats would score twice before picking up their final run in the 9th on a Tommy Splaine RBI single to make the final score 7-1. Bradon Zastrow of Arizona was the winning pitcher and Noah Matheny of Michigan State took the loss.
Monday, Feb 20th – at UC San Diego (1-2)
To wrap up the MLB Desert Invitational, Arizona went once again to Sloan Park to face off against UC San Diego. Starting at 1 pm, what followed was a shootout. In the bottom of the 2nd, UC San Diego’s Crew Robinson opened up the scoring with an RBI single. In the 4th, UC San Diego would extend the lead to 3-0 before Arizona finally responded in the top of the 6th with a Tony Bullard RBI double. From here on out the bats kept producing. In the top of the 7th, the Wildcats pushed across three runs to make it 4-3 before UC San Diego responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own. In the 8th, Arizona’s Cameron LaLiberte made it five all with an RBI single. In the top of the 9th, Arizona pushed across four runs to make their lead 9-5. UC San Diego immediately responded, posting three runs and falling just short of a comeback, the final score 9-8 in favor of the Wildcats. As a result, Arizona’s closer Trevor Long picked up the win and UC San Diego’s Joe Soberon picked up the loss.
With their first week in the books, Arizona now sits at 3-1 and looks forward to a nice and long seven-game homestand, which kicks off this Friday, February 24th against West Virginia in their home opener at Hi Corbett Field. They will play West Virginia three times over the weekend with the start times at 6, 3, and 1 pm respectively. Afterward, the Wildcats will host California Baptist for a one-off game on Tuesday the 28th. With much hope for a good year, bear down and go Wildcats.