Arizona baseball avoids ASU sweep
Despite losing the series after dropping Friday and Saturday’s games, Arizona baseball snapped its five-game losing streak on Sunday evening with a 6-1 triumph over rival ASU at home.
Arizona went 8-for-22 (.364) with runners on base, 4-for-12 (.333) with runners in scoring position and 16-for-28 (.571) in advancement opportunities.
The Wildcats swung the bats well and quickly jumped on ASU’s Darin Gillies to take an early 2-0 lead over the Sun Devils.
In the first inning, Arizona freshman designated hitter Michael Hoard hit a double to the left-center power alley with two outs and runners on first and second to score sophomore outfielders Zach Gibbons and Scott Kingery.
Arizona freshman utility player Bobby Dalbec reacts in disgust as ASU junior infielder Drew Stankiewicz celebrates an RBI double during Arizona's 7-0 loss against ASU at Hi Corbett Field on Saturday. The Wildcats lost the season and Pac-12 series to the Sun Devils.
“[The double] was crucial,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “Ironically, right before that, I turned to one of my assistants and said, ‘God, when was the last time we hit a ball in the gap with people in scoring position?’ It was a big one for him and it was a big one for the club.”
Hoard, who only started 12 games this season, teed off against Gillies (1-4), and in addition to the two-RBI double in the first, collected a single in the third inning. It was his first career multi-hit game and the first in which he had recorded more than one RBI.
“[Sunday night] I was a little bit more relaxed at the plate,” Hoard said. “Get my pitches, get my count and execute. I don’t know what it was — maybe the new pants-down look or something like that.”
Arizona’s pitching kept the Sun Devils in line, as ASU only got two hits on the night. In the third inning, ASU took advantage of a one-out walk from Arizona’s sophomore right-handed pitcher Tyger Talley. Johnny Sewald singled to put runners on the corners, then shortstop Drew Stankiewicz lined out to left, allowing Sewald to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly and put ASU on the board.
Even though Talley experienced issues with his command and only lasted 4.1 innings, he stumped ASU’s lineup. Sewald was the only one able to pick up on Talley’s pitching and represented the lone Sun Devil to record hits. Talley (2-1) allowed one run while scattering two hits and striking out three.
Sophomore pitcher Cody Moffett relieved Talley and pitched three innings of no-hit baseball before freshman utility player Bobby Dalbec closed the game.
“My control was all right [Sunday],” Talley said. “I still got outs, and Moffett and Dalbec picked me up. That’s what they should do coming out of the pen. We did what we needed to do as a staff.”
Arizona’s offense struck again in bottom of the fourth after ASU cut the Wildcats’ lead in half.
Arizona responded by stringing together three hits and pushed across another two runs to provide insurance and extend its lead.
After freshman third baseman Willie Calhoun and junior catcher Riley Moore began the frame with back-to-back singles, junior right fielder Joseph Maggi laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners into scoring position. Gibbons then launched a fly ball to center field, which allowed Calhoun to tag up and score and Moore to pull into third base. Sophomore shortstop Kevin Newman delivered a single to left to score Moore.
The Wildcats tacked on additional runs in the bottom of the fifth and in the eighth. Arizona’s timely hitting, which represented a welcome change of pace, gave the Wildcats’ rotation the run support it needed to come away with the win.
Arizona travels to No. 7 Oregon this week.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17