Arizona baseball bounces back from Tuesday loss, wins 14-5
No. 10 Arizona (8-2) bounced back from its 3-1 loss Tuesday night to Utah Valley (4-5) with a more characteristic 14-5 victory Wednesday afternoon to split the mid-week series. Unlike in the loss, the Wildcats got timely hitting with runners in scoring position and capitalized on Wolverine mistakes.
“We just flat-out hit the ball better,” head coach Andy Lopez said of the difference between the two games.
Arizona handled its business on the offensive side, scoring 14 runs on 14 hits. Prior to the game, the Wildcats had been averaging 9.1 runs per game.
Along with an explosive offense, Arizona got a solid start from freshman pitcher Cody Moffett (1-0). The southpaw made his first collegiate start Wednesday and went 5.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on 78 pitches.
Even though it lost by nine runs, Utah Valley drew blood first in the second inning after a lead-off single.
But the pesky Wildcats came right back. Centered around a two-run homer by Brandon Dixon, Arizona took a 3-1 lead going into the fourth inning.
Behind Moffett’s arm, the Wildcats didn’t look back, as they grabbed six more runs in fifth inning.
Moffett got the hook with one out in the sixth inning when his pitch count surpassed the predetermined number.
“My cutter was really working for me today,” Moffett said. “I was able to get up on the count and use it effectively.”
Senior Tyler Hale replaced the freshman, and for the second consecutive appearance Hale struggled to locate. The reliever only faced three batters and gave up two singles and a double before fellow senior Augey Bill was called in again to limit the damage. In the end, the Wolverines grabbed three runs in the inning, none charged to Bill.
“Bill developed a cut-fastball since last season and I really think it’s helped him this year with an out pitch,” Lopez said.
Before closer Mathew Troupe could finish off Utah Valley in the top of the ninth, Arizona banged out three more runs thanks to back-to-back doubles by Johnny Field and Dixon, followed up by Trent Gilbert’s second triple of the game.
“Hitting behind Field is great because he takes counts deep and allows me to see lots of pitches on the on-deck circle,” said Dixon, who now has a batting average of .406.
The second baseman, Gilbert, who was the Wildcats’ No. 9 hitter last season, is hitting .375 through 10 games, and leads the team with four triples and 13 RBI. Gilbert, who is now the number five hitter, has also added security to the core of the Arizona lineup by being a threat after Field and Dixon.
Arizona will continue its 18-game home stand Friday night as it hosts the University of San Francisco to begin a three-game weekend series.
“We’re getting better,” Lopez said, “but we still really need to play more tough.”