Baseball opens season with 13-1 thrashing of Kent State
Freshman infielder Willie Calhoun had quite a debut on Friday night in Arizona’s 13-1 win over Kent State on opening night at Hi Corbett Field.
In his first collegiate baseball game as a Wildcat, Calhoun recorded a team-leading three hits and four RBIs to lead the UA’s offensive onslaught. He amassed two doubles, a single and two runs.
Sophomore left fielder Zach Gibbons gathered three hits — all singles, and sophomore third baseman Cody Ramer and second baseman Trent Gilbert also enjoyed multi-hit performances.
Senior ace James Farris (1-0) struck out nine over 7.2 innings.
“It was a good night. Obviously this is a nice way to start,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “Farris was outstanding and early in the game he did a good job when the game was close. He hung up a couple zeros [despite] giving up a leadoff triple in one inning.”
Farris, who struggled last year with command issues, seemed confident in his abilities, and gave up one earned run on six hits while only walking one.
“Overall, I think my location was very well placed,” Farris said. “My fastball location was right on, my changeup was accurate and my curveball came in really nicely in the late innings.”
Kent State was the first to strike and found itself up a run after junior center fielder Alex Milkos cashed in on the first pitch he saw and drove in left fielder Jon Wilson with two outs in the top of the third.
Arizona responded in the home half of the third, with runners on the corners and just one out, sophomore infielder Cody Ramer scored on a wild pitch to tie the ball game.
Brian Clark, the Golden Flashes’ lefty starter quickly found himself in trouble again in the bottom of the fourth. Wildcats advanced on wild pitches and took a 2-1 lead on a passed ball.
Freshman infielder Bobby Dalbec was hit by a pitch and then sophomore Scott Kingery doubled to left field making it 3-1.
It was at this point that the Wildcats broke the game open.
Sophomore infielder Kevin Newman was walked in with the bases loaded and Arizona was given a free run.
With the bases still loaded, Calhoun launched a double to the right-center power alley scoring three runners to put the Wildcats up by six. Calhoun subsequently scored on a wild pitch from Kent State’s Spencer Bryant to widen the lead and make the score 8-1.
“I had some jitters in my first couple at bats, but when I came up with the bases loaded, I knew I was due for a hit,” Calhoun said. “I just tried to put the bat on the ball and execute like coach always says. I’m definitely becoming more comfortable in the game environment.”
The Golden Flashes’ pitchers found it difficult to command the zone all throughout the game and combined for four walks, four wild pitches, three hit batters and a passed ball.
Arizona began to rub salt in Kent State’s wounds as it added to its lead in the fifth inning and again in the sixth. Moore led off the fifth for the Wildcats’ and sent a triple to the right-center wall. Dalbec drove in his first RBI of his college baseball career on a fly out to center field.
In the sixth, Calhoun collected his second double of the night down the left field line and came around to score when Gilbert singled to right, giving Arizona a 10-1 advantage.
The UA tacked on another run in the seventh when Calhoun singled up the middle to score Ramer.
In the eighth, the Wildcats saw two more players cross the plate on two hits and a throwing error from Kent State right fielder T.J. Sutton making it 13-1.
Arizona goes for the series win on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
–Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17