Wildcat baseball loses first road conference series
Arizona loses to Oregon, 2-1
In its first Pac-12 road series, Arizona (15-9, 0-4 Pac-12) lost its fourth game in a row. No. 12 Oregon (16-5, 3-1) squeaked by the Wildcats 2-1 Friday night in Eugene, Ore.
Friday night ace Konner Wade (2-2) pitched 6.2 innings and surrendered two runs on five hits. Wade kept the Ducks scoreless through four innings, but wasn’t able to get any help from his offense. The Wildcats’ bats got four hits but left four runners on base through the first five innings.
Wade’s counterpart, Jake Reed (3-3), went a total of 6.0 innings and gave up six hits and one run. The Wildcats’ offense finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning with no outs and the bases loaded. Second baseman Trent Gilbert got his 29 RBI of the season when he grounded out into a fielder’s choice double play with the bases loaded to score catcher Riley Moore from third.
The RBI by Gilbert tied the game at 1 and gave Wade another shot to get the winning decision. But Oregon’s small ball tactics paid off the next half inning. Wade hit the lead-off batter who later moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Following a pop out, the Ducks retook the lead when Arizona right fielder Joseph Maggi missed a fly ball with two outs, scoring the runner from second base.
The 2-1 lead was enough for Oregon’s bullpen. Ducks’ relief pitchers Christian Jones and all-American closer Jimmie Sherfy (7) went a combined 3.0 innings and didn’t allow a single Wildcat to reach base.
Since the beginning of conference play, Arizona has seen a dip in its scoring average. The Wildcats averaged 8.0 runs per game prior to the start of conference play on March 15. Since then, Arizona has played four games and averaged just 2.5 runs.
Friday was only the second time this season the Wildcats scored just one run. Utah Valley beat Arizona 3-1 on Feb. 26. The Wildcats have yet to be shut out in 2013.
Lopez did see some production out of Jordan Berger. The sophomore reserve catcher only had 10 at-bats coming into Friday’s game but went 2-3 against the Ducks as the designated hitter to improve to 5-13 on the season. Other than Berger, the Wildcats didn’t get much offense going. Arizona’s top two player of the year candidates, Johnny Field and Brandon Dixon, went a combined 1-7 with one walk by Field. The one hit came on a bunt by Dixon in the sixth inning.
Arizona relief pitchers Tyger Talley, Augey Bill and closer Mathew Troupe all saw action Friday night. The trio went 1.1 innings only allowing one Oregon batter to reach base on a walk. Talley came in with two outs in the seventh inning and shut the door on a possible Ducks rally. However, Talley couldn’t find his location in the eighth inning and was pulled before getting an out.
For the seventh time this season Troupe was asked to pitch in a non-save opportunity. The sophomore went .2 innings and struck out one batter.
The Wildcats will look to get their first victory of the Pac-12 conference tomorrow as they play game two of the three-game weekend series. Arizona junior James Farris (3-2) will take the mound for the Wildcats.