Arizona baseball loses sixth in a row
Wildcats fall short and are still winless in conference
It’s lonely at the bottom, and following Arizona’s second consecutive three-game sweep, the Wildcats are currently sitting all alone in last place of the Pac-12 baseball standings.
Arizona (15-11, 0-6 Pac-12) dropped its sixth consecutive game Sunday afternoon, as No. 12 Oregon (18-6, 5-1) hung on to beat the Wildcats 7-6 at PK Park, despite a late ninth inning rally by Arizona.
“It just seemed like we were a couple hits shy,” second baseman Trent Gilbert said. “We just got to execute the little things better.”
Leaving runners on base has been a common theme for the Wildcats ever since they began conference play six games ago. Entering Sunday’s matchup, Arizona was the second ranked offense in the conference, but still was only 8-40 (.200) with runners in scoring position. Sunday, the Wildcats had similar problems prior to the ninth inning rally.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat Second baseman Trent Gilbert hits a ball toward third base against USF. Gilbert and the Wildcats are still winless in Pac-12 play after being swept for the second weekend in a row by Oregon.
Between the first and eighth inning, Arizona left seven runners on base, five of who were left in scoring position. The Wildcats scored three runs between those eight innings but never saw the lead as Arizona’s pitching staff struggled to keep the Ducks’ offense off the board.
Sunday starter, freshman Cody Moffett (2-2), earned his second consecutive loss after only pitching two complete innings. Oregon left fielder Brett Thomas led off the third inning with a single, which prompted head coach Andy Lopez to replace the freshman with sophomore lefty Tyler Crawford.
In his fourth career start, Moffett went a career low 2.0 innings. He only gave up three hits, but showed poor command of location. On 53 pitches, Moffett faced a total of 10 batters and gave up two earned runs.
Crawford’s day wasn’t much better, as the relief pitcher also faced 10 batters, but in just 1.0 inning. Crawford gave up two hits, three walks and three earned runs.
From the fourth inning on, Oregon saw four different Arizona relief pitchers who gave up two more earned runs. Stephen Manthei, Augey Bill, Nick Cunningham and Mathew Troupe finished out the final five innings.
The Ducks controlled most of Sunday’s game behind their freshman Sunday starter Cole Irvin (4-1) who went 5.1 innings and gave up three runs, two of which were earned.
The Wildcats’ first run came in the fourth inning, trailing 2-0 when catcher Riley Moore dropped down a squeeze bunt with Gilbert on third.
“We’re not a team that’s going to consistently hit doubles,” Gilbert said. “So we need to execute things like bunts and moving runners over better.”
Arizona executed the squeeze play in fourth inning but that would be all, as the following batter, Scott Kingery grounded out to end the inning.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 6-3. However, Oregon increased its lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the inning after Cunningham gave up a triple and RBI sacrifice fly.
In its final at-bats, trailing 7-3 with two outs and a runner on first base, Arizona would mount a slight comeback against the Ducks’ all-American closer Jimmie Sherfy. The Wildcats struck for three runs on three hits against Sherfy, but, in the end fell, just one run short. Freshman Zach Gibbons grounded out to third to end the game with Gilbert, the tying run, standing on second.
“We were just one hit away,” Gilbert said. “Every game in this series felt that way.”
Arizona is now the only Pac-12 team yet to win a conference game. It will get another shot next weekend as it will return to Hi Corbett Field to host Utah (10-10, 1-4).
“Lopez always tells us not to panic,” Gilbert said. “There are plenty of conference games left. We just need to find our identity on offense.”