Arizona baseball walks off against USC in series opener
Arizona baseball continued to swing hot bats and kept its playoff hopes alive in an extra inning win Friday night over USC.
Freshman outfielder Zach Gibbons’ walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth proved to be the deciding factor in Friday’s 4-3 victory over the Trojans, as the Wildcats compiled 11 hits in the series opener at Hi Corbett Field.
With the score tied 3-3 in the tenth, Southern California’s Kyle Davis beaned freshman infielder Kevin Newman to begin the inning with a man on first. After sophomore catcher Riley Moore moved Newman to second on a sacrifice bunt, Gibbons struck with the fatal blow, as he ripped the game winning single up the middle.
“It was huge,” Gibbons said. “[Tonight] was the first night I’ve experienced something like this, and it felt great. This was a big game; but we can’t back down moving forward. We have to win another one.“
Arizona (32-21, 13-15 Pac-12) goes for the series win Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Gibbons led the Wildcats’ offensive attack and compiled four hits, a run, and an RBI. Newman had two RBI and contributed with a key hit to tie the game, 1-1, in the fifth.
Moore and sophomore utility player Joseph Maggi each had two hits. Going into this weekend’s series, Maggi the led Pac-12 with a .479 on-base percentage in conference games and before tonight’s multi-hit performance, was batting .377 with 21 runs scored and 15 RBI over his last 27 games.
Moore reached base safely another two times tonight, extending his streak to 25 games.
Junior Konner Wade kept the Trojans under control, allowing three runs on 11 hits while striking out in 9.1 innings pitched. The righty threw 126 pitches and didn’t issue a single walk after allowing four in his previous performance last weekend against ASU.
“I wasn’t really happy with the pitches I made in the first inning, but I made an adjustment after that,” Wade said. “For the most part, I felt like I was throwing pretty good pitches. I was glad to give my team a chance.“
Sophomore Mathew Troupe came in to relive with one out in the tenth, but only needed a single pitch to get out of the inning; forcing USC’s Adam Landecker to fly out to freshman utility player Scott Kingery, who followed up an impressive diving catch by throwing to first base before the Trojan runner was able to return.
Troupe received the win and improved to a 6-0 record. He possesses a 3.29 ERA, has recorded nine saves so far this year, and has struck out 49 in 38.1 innings pitched.
While Wade’s performance carried the Wildcats to a big win, head coach Andy Lopez made sure that the team knew that its job wasn’t over yet this season.
“Momentum comes down to who shows up on the mound [Saturday],” Lopez said. “Konner Wade was outstanding and the team had a great night tonight, but [Saturday], we have to come back and play good baseball again.”