Arizona Wildcats Baseball: Offense, ailing Farris will Wildcats past Cal 6-4
Starting pitcher James Farris wasn’t feeling well coming into the game — in fact head coach Andy Lopez said he was as “sick as a dog.”
The sophomore threw like he was under the weather, too, but the Arizona offense gave enough support to will the Wildcats a 6-4 victory against Cal Saturday night at Hi Corbett Field, securing their second straight Pac-12 series.
“[Farris] wasn’t really sharp, but he gutted it out,” Lopez said. “He made some poor pitches, but he gutted it out.”
“Very, very proud of him. Good team effort on his part.”
Farris didn’t make it out to the park Friday night; instead he spent it at home throwing up. But when his number was called Saturday, he still went out to the mound and pitched 4 2/3 innings before being pulled for relief.
Farris gave up two earned runs on six hits and two walks, but by then Arizona (20-11, 5-6 Pac-12) already had a four run lead over Cal (16-15, 5-6). The bullpen then helped close it out to keep the Wildcats’ five game winning streak intact.
While it hasn’t been Arizona’s forte to jump out to early leads this season, the Wildcats didn’t waste any time getting on the board Saturday.
The UA opened the game with five straight hits and by the time the Golden Bears finally recorded an out, three runs had already crossed the plate. Once the dust settled for Cal’s starter Justin Jones, Arizona had a 4-0 advantage, thanks in part to triples by Trent Gilbert and Scott Kingery.
“Right now we’re seeing the ball pretty well as an offense and executing pretty well and finding ways to get runs on the board,” said center fielder Johnny Field, who went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI on the night.
“We knew coming in that Farris was pretty sick yesterday, so we knew that we’d probably have to get some runs. It’s great to get on that start early in the game like that.”
The Golden Bears answered in the top of the second with two runs of their own, but this time it was the defense that lent Farris a hand.
Cal’s Grant Diede tested the arm of right fielder Joseph Maggi and was gunned down at the plate, leaving two Golden Bears stranded on the bases.
Offense hasn’t come easy to the Wildcats during conference play — they scored just 11 runs in their first five games of Pac-12 play. But after left fielder Zach Gibbons scored in the third inning and first baseman San Parris scored in the fourth, Arizona had six runs on the night. Add that to the 10-1 win against Cal the night prior, and the offense was finally clicking for the UA.
“We had to make some adjustments after the first couple weekends, and the adjustments were that we had to get the offense going,” Lopez said.
Jones only lasted one inning for Cal, but the Golden Bears managed to keep Arizona off the scoreboard after the fourth. Yet, the bullpen effort of Tyger Talley, Augey Bill and Mathew Troupe gave the Wildcats the victory in front of 3,365 at Hi Corbett.
Talley picked up the win (3-0), going 1.2 innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits. The freshman retired his first four batters, but left the game with two runners on base in the top of the seventh.
“There are those nights you have it and nights you don’t; I didn’t have it tonight,” Talley said. “Tomorrow we will come back out and hopefully get a sweep.”
Bill has been the UA’s most reliable arm out of the pen, but he kept the game dangerous in the seventh inning, allowing a single to Cal’s Brenden Farney that loaded the bases in a three-run game. Bill settled down and escaped, though, letting just one run cross home on a sacrifice hit by Devon Rodriguez.
The Golden Bears scored just four runs on 11 hits and stranded eight runners on base.
Troupe made things interesting in the top of the ninth, putting runners on second and third and giving Cal a chance to either tie the game or take the lead. But, the closer overpowered Rodriguez, striking him out to finish the game.
Troupe picked up his seventh save of the season and struck out the side, though did it in his own dramatic fashion.
The Wildcats finish the series with Cal Sunday at 1 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field. Pitcher Tyler Crawford will start the game for Arizona, his second-straight weekend start.
Second baseman Trent Gilbert tweaked his ankle before the game and was taken out at the start of the fifth inning for infielder Ryan Koziol. Gilbert went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI on the night.