Arizona Wildcats baseball completes three-game sweep against Cal
Ryan Koziol steps up big for Wildcats
Arizona (21-11, 6-6 Pac-12) finished off California (16-16, 6-6) to complete the three-game sweep of the Golden Bears with a 5-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
The Wildcats came away with their sixth consecutive victory thanks to freshman Ryan Koziol.
The first baseman entered the afternoon with a .212 batting average, the lowest on the team for every day players. But might have had himself a breakout game, as he went 3-5 with a double run and RBI. Koziol also protected the win by snagging the game-ending hard ground ball.
“I was seeing the ball really well,” Koziol said. “I’ve been struggling a little at the plate this year. But I feel like the work I put in during the week with coach Siegel and Lopez really helped for today.”
Drew Gyorke / Arizona Daily Wildcat Freshman Ryan Koziol tries to tag out the runner at first against Cal on Sunday. The Wildcats won 5-4 to cap off a 6 game win streak on Sunday.
Arizona scored first, but sparingly, throughout Sunday afternoon. The first run came in the second inning when sophomore right fielder Joseph Maggi singled up the middle scoring Koziol from second. Four Wildcats reached base in the inning, but Koziol was the only one to score.
Two innings later, Arizona added another run to its 1-0 lead when third baseman Brandon Dixon walked with the bases loaded to score second baseman David Lopez. Once again though, the solo run would be all for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats left the bases loaded three times in the game.
Nine Arizona runners were left on base in the first five innings, 14 in the game, which is a season high for the Wildcats.
After a strong performance on the mound last Sunday against Utah, Arizona sophomore Tyler Crawford (3-1) tried to secure the flakey Sunday starter role with a win against California.
“[Crawford] commanded [his] three pitches,” Lopez said following the win. “He understands his strengths and weaknesses and pitches to his strengths, doesn’t try to over throw.”
Through the first five innings, Crawford worked well with his early lead, only allowing two Golden Bears to reach base, both off singles. Crawford ran into trouble, however, in the sixth inning when California tied the game at 2-2.
Crawford’s day was done before recording the second out in the sixth, after Cal tied the game on a double, two singles and a wild pitch.
“I don’t know if I got tired, but I just left a few pitches middle and they made me pay,” Crawford said.
Crawford threw 70 total pitches and went 5.1 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits. Freshman Tyger Talley (4-0) replaced Crawford and went 1.1 innings without allowing a runner to reach second.
“I know Sunday is an important game because you’re either trying to win a series, trying to get a sweep or trying to avoid getting swept, so it’s good to bring some stability to that,” Crawford said.
Talley got the win as Arizona retook the lead the very next half inning, when Maggi led off the bottom of the inning with a single and eventually scored two batters later on a wild pitch.
The Wildcats increased their lead to 5-2 with a RBI single from Koziol in the seventh and a RBI bases-loaded hit-by-pitch from catcher Riley Moore in the eighth.
“We always talk about getting hits, not doubles or home runs,” Koziol said. “So I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and make some good contact.”
However, it was closer Mathew Troupe who made the game interesting. Troupe collected his eighth save on the season after entering the game with two outs in the top of the seventh. With a 5-2 lead, Troupe gave up two singles and two runs, almost blowing the game. But with the tying run on third, Troupe got the final out as Cal pinch hitter Andrew Knapp hit a sharp ground ball at Koziol, who would make the unassisted put-out at first.
“They did a good job, I’m proud of them,” Lopez said after the game. “They’ve played well the last two weekends.”
Arizona will travel to Washington State next weekend as it looks to continue to climb back into the conference standings.