Arizona baseball starts season in dominant fashion
Arizona outfielder Mitchell Morimoto (16) runs to first base after batting during the baseball game against Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 17 at Hi Corbett field.
Baseball returned to Tucson as No. 15 Arizona beat Eastern Kentucky 6-0. 3,716 fans made their way to Hi Corbett to watch Arizona pitch a shutout in its season opener.
Senior pitcher J.C. Cloney got the start for Arizona and pitched seven innings for the Wildcats. Cloney struck out six batters and give up zero runs or walks on Friday.
The Wildcats gave up a double on the first pitch of the season, as EKU outfielder Daniel McFarland hit a line drive. However, Arizona would not allow a run in the first inning, despite McFarland advancing to third base.
“Guy nubs a first pitch and poker face up throws strikes in and out and changes speeds,” said Arizona head coach Jay Johnson. “He allowed us to settle in and I liked that he was very efficient, going through 74 pitches which was awesome.
Arizona would take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as a Jared Oliva singled sending Mitchell Morimoto to home plate.
“The whole goal is for me to get on and Cal Stevenson to bump me over and Ollie came through with a great hit,” said Morimoto “ It really got us some momentum there and started the game.”
The Wildcats would extend their lead to 2-0 in the third inning as Morimoto scored on an Oliva double-play.
Arizona broke the game open in the sixth inning when they scored three runs to extend their lead to 5-0. Nick Quintana doubled down the infield line, which scored Jared Oliva and advance J.J. Matijevic to third base.
Then, Matijevic scored on a Kyle Lewis single while Quintana advanced to third.
Seve Romo replaced Cloney in the eighth inning and gave up one hit while striking out four hitters in two innings.
“I thought he looked great, I was actually inside in his first inning and I heard he caved three,” said Cloney. “ I came out as quick as possible and saw him get up, he looked like he was spotting up which is really good to see.
Mitchell Morimoto led the Wildcats offense with two runs and two hits in only three at bats for Arizona.
“I feel like I did set the tempo but I have to give it to the guys behind me,” said Morimoto. “If they do not do anything my hits do not mean anything.”
Morimoto was unaware that he was starting until earlier that day but ended up putting up runs on the board for Coach Johnson.
“He had a billion hits in his two years junior college and not by accident,” said Coach Johnson. “ In our Red-Blue game he gave us four really good at-bats and I felt good about playing him.”
The Wildcats play again EKU on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the second of a four-game series. Tylor Megill is on the mound for Arizona while Max Ford is the projected starter for Arizona.
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