Wildcats fall 6-2 to Cougars in game two of series
Arizona catcher Cesar Salazar (12) races to first base during Arizona’s 11-5 win against St. Mary’s on March 6. The Wildcats played Washington State in their second game of the series.
The Arizona Wildcats baseball team had difficulty scoring runs and playing defense in their 6-2 loss to Washington State Saturday night at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats committed three errors and tallied only three hits in the loss to the Cougars.
The game started off with a two-base error by starting pitcher JC Cloney, who made an errant throw to first base on a bunt attempt by Trek Stemp. Stemp would come around to score on a one out single by Weston Hatten. Ty Johnson then drove in Hatten on a single to right to make it 2-0.
The Cougars tacked on two more in the second, the first coming on another error this time by third baseman Bobby Dalbec and the second run coming on a sacrifice fly by Dugan Shirer.
To make matters worse, head coach Jay Johnson was ejected in the top of the second inning after arguing a close back pick at third base when UA was on defense.
“I don’t know if he was in position for the call and he called it pretty quick,” Johnson said of the umpire who made the call he was arguing. “I really just wanted to make sure he was in position and I felt like he deserved to give it a second to make the call.”
Cloney would only last two innings for the Wildcats after giving up four runs while only one was earned. Following the theme of the game, catcher Cesar Salazar was removed from the game in the third and replaced by Ryan Haug after an apparent finger injury. Johnson confirmed after the game that Salazar is fine, though, and will play in Sunday’s finale.
The Cougars picked up right where they left off in the fourth after scoring two runs on two hits and another error by the Wildcats. Stefan Van Horn singled in a run for the Cougars and then was singled in by Stemp.
The first run the Wildcats were able to push across came in the fourth when Zach Gibbons scored on a wild pitch.
WSU pitcher Ryan Ward was able to keep the Wildcats at bay for 4.1 innings while surrendering one run while striking out four and giving up only one hit. Johnson talked after the game about the team’s offensive woes and what Ward was doing to keep them off balance.
“It’s tough to hit at this park at nighttime,” Johnson said. “I thought the first inning we gave a couple at bats away and extended the zone for their pitcher [Ward] who is talented and he’ll be very good once he commands the ball a little bit better.”
The Cougars got a solid relief effort out of Ryan Walker who went 3.2 innings while striking out five and allowing one hit. Walker was relieved by Colby Nealy in the ninth who only lasted one hitter before being replaced by Scottie Sunitsch who closed out the game and sealed the victory for the Cougars.