Arizona baseball holds on to beat No. 15 ASU, keep postseason hopes alive
Win also clinched the UA its forth straight Territorial Cup Series over Arizona State
The Arizona baseball team had its back against the wall, staring directly at the possibility of missing the NCAA Tournament a year after winning the national championship.
With the bases loaded and only one out at Packard Stadium, in Tempe, Ariz., relief pitcher Augey Bill had little margin for error with the Wildcats up just a run.
But, Bill forced the Sun Devil’s Kasey Coffman into a 1-2-3 double play the end the game, giving Arizona a 7-6 victory against No. 15 ASU Sunday.
The win clinched the series victory, keeping the Wildcats’ postseason hopes alive, and handed the UA the Territorial Cup Series trophy.
Carl Miller / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Baseball had difficulty on the mound during Tuesday night's 7-5 loss to Arizona State. A total of six different Wildcat pitchers entered the game.
“[We] knew going into this, that it was going to be a war,” said sophomore Joseph Maggi, who went 2-for-3 and had three RBIs in the game. “We knew we had to step up our offense [especially after being swept by UCLA], and we put it on ourselves to really shake up their bullpen this weekend.”
During the series against the Sun Devils, Arizona struck first blood and won Friday’s opener 10-7 before ASU rebounded for and a 6-3 win in Saturday’s contest.
The series victory over Arizona State keeps the Cats’ playoff chances alive, yet Arizona may need to sweep USC this weekend to secure a bid. The ten-hit offensive onslaught, which propelled Arizona to the dramatic victory Sunday, also resulted in the Wildcats’ fourth consecutive triumph in Territorial Cup play.
“I always anticipate us to do our jobs,” said third baseman Brandon Dixon, who went 1-for-4 with two RBIs Sunday. “The goal is to always win two out of three. We got that done this week, and that is what we always expect to do.”
Over the three game series, the Wildcats prospered offensively and compiled 20 runs on 31 hits. The defense also stayed strong as the Wildcats committed a total of three errors.
In contrast, Arizona State swung the bats well too, scoring 19 runs and 30 hits. Yet, ASU fell short defensively and shot itself in the foot with eight errors over the weekend.
Sunday’s finale was a rollercoaster as both teams battled back and forth. With the score tied at six in the eighth inning, Arizona scored the go-ahead run and worked out of two bases loaded jams in the final two innings to secure the 7-6 victory.
Saturday’s duel became a heartbreaker for the UA, as Arizona came back to tie the score in the seventh and eighth innings before the Sun Devils’ offense struck a fatal blow, tacking on three runs to come away with a 6-3 win.
Dixon was one of three players who had five hits this weekend. The junior also compiled seven RBIs.
In Friday’s game, the Wildcats surged to a promising 9-0 lead in the third inning before the Sun Devils began to retaliate with two runs in the third and fourth, and three in the eighth, to tighten the score at 10-7.
Despite Arizona State’s attempted comeback, the score remained set, giving Arizona a 1-0 series lead.
Second baseman Trent Gilbert had five hits and scored three runs for Arizona over the series, and cashed in an RBI. Junior Johnny Field showed up to win and also collected five hits en route to the series victory, as well as a huge defensive play to save the victory Friday.
“Offensively, I thought we did a pretty decent job,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “We battled this weekend. Pitching-wise, we have some issues and work still needs to be done- we’re not anywhere near where we should be in the month of May.”