Arizona sweeps series against McNeese State, improving to 8-0
Arizona's Rio Gomez pitches during the UA-McNeese game on Saturday, Feb. 25. The Wildcats swept McNeese State over the weekend.
The Arizona baseball team scored 24 runs in two days en route to a sweep over McNeese State at Hi Corbett Field to improve to 8-0 on the season. The Wildcats won 12-3 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday.
UA has no shortage of offensive firepower through the early stages of the season as its scored 86 runs and has five players hitting over .400.
“You can’t ignore the offense and the consistent quality at-bats and a lot of different ways to score,” said Arizona head coach Jay Johnson. “[We’re] still executing the bunting game and the hit-and-run game at a high level and hitting a lot of extra-base hits.”
While the offense has yet to slow down, the rotation has been a bit of a question mark outside of ace J.C. Cloney who is 2-0 and has yet to allow an earned run.
On Sunday, UA used six pitchers. Alfonso Rivas got the nod but only went two-thirds of an inning after allowing three runs – two of which were unearned -- after some bad luck with errors and infield hits. The Wildcats found themselves in a 4-0 hole early on but were able to battle back, an early theme of the UA’s season thus far.
“They value that there’s no clock in baseball,” Johnson said. “They do a good job of competing and I think they value winning. It’s not over till it’s over.”
UA quickly responded by tying the game in the third, thanks to a three-run home run by Jared Oliva, his second of the season, to come within one. The Wildcats tied the game when Rivas walked with the bases loaded.
The game was knotted at five until the seventh inning when UA batted around in the order and erupted for seven runs. The inning started with Oliva who doubled to left and moved to third on a bunt by Cameron Cannon. Oliva promptly scored on an RBI ground out by Kyle Lewis.
UA would not stop there as Mitchell Morimoto, J.J. Matijevic and Cesar Salazar all had RBI singles before Oliva hit a two-run double to left to cap off the seven-run inning. Oliva finished 3-5 with a home run, two doubles, two runs and five RBIs.
“The results are showing up,” Oliva said. “I’m still focused on the process of things and getting good pitches to hit. I could line out four times and still be happy. The hits are falling and that’s always good and we’re helping the team win and that’s the biggest thing.”
The game was cut short as McNeese State had a travel curfew approaching.
UA may have found a solid No. 2 starter behind Cloney in the form of Rio Gomez who has pitched admirably in his two starts. Gomez went 5.1 innings and allowed two earned runs with five strikeouts in Saturday’s win 12-3 win. On the season, Gomez is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA and 11 strikeouts.
The team also received solid work out the bullpen by Cody Deason and Austin Schnabel who combined to allow one run in 3.2 innings of work.
UA was led offensively by the same faces -- Oliva, Morimoto, Cal Stevenson, Matijevic and Nick Quintana – who combined to go 10-20 with five RBIs and eight runs.
The Wildcats will play an exhibition game Tuesday night at Hi Corbett against the NC Dinos, a professional Korean team. With the UA playing eight games in nine days, Johnson said the goal of the exhibition game is to explore the team’s depth and get players looks who’ve haven’t played extensively this season.
“I think we’ll use a lot of guys on Tuesday,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll use it as an improvement day for our team in terms of depth. We need to get some guys on the mound, we need to get some guys to play that haven’t gotten a ton of at-bats. There’s plenty of good players so it will be good to create an opportunity for a few guys.”
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