Arizona baseball falls to Utah for second consecutive game, lose first series at home all season
Arizona pitcher Cameron Ming (47) throws during the baseball game against Utah on April 21 at Hi Corbett Field.
After falling in the opener Thursday night, the Arizona baseball team dropped game two to Utah 7-3 Friday night at Hi-Corbett. The series loss was the only the second for the Wildcats in Pac-12 play, the other coming against No. 1 Oregon State in March.
Arizona ace JC Cloney, who was believed to be pegged as the starter, was scratched for reliever Cameron Ming. The lefty channeled his inner Cloney by delivering six strong innings of work while allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts. Cloney exited a start with bicep stiffness two weeks ago in frigid temperatures in Pullman, Washington, against Washington State after facing one batter.
“Last night he [Coach Johnson] texted me and asked ‘do you want to start tomorrow?’” Ming said. “I said ‘let’s do it, I’ll give you everything I got.’ So I knew in advance which is abnormal but nice so I got myself ready. I came out ready to pitch.”
The Wildcats threatened in the second when Nick Quintana hit a two-out double and Cesar Salazar got hit by a pitch to put two on for Cameron Cannon who popped up to end the inning.
Both pitchers were locked in early on as each allowed one hit and no runs through the first four innings. Ming allowed a few runners to reach in the fifth but both were thrown out by Salazar trying to advance to second on balls in the dirt.
UA’s offense was uncharacteristically cold through the first five innings as it only collected two hits, a double from Quintana and a single from Cannon.
Ming performed masterful until the sixth inning when he gave up a double and an RBI single which gave Utah the 1-0 lead.
“I thought he [Ming] was outstanding, it was exactly what our team needed,” Johnson said. “I wanted him to get through seven [innings] because his pitch count was so low, but he was awesome. It was the highlight of the night, for sure.”
The Wildcats tied the game in the sixth when Cal Stevenson led off with a walk and ended up on third after a ground out and a fly out. Next batter J.J. Matijevic walked which set the stage for Mitchell Morimoto who singled up the middle, tying the game at 1.
However, the damage would end there as Quintana struck out with two on to end the threat.
Ming exited the game and handed the ball over to Cody Deason with no outs in the seventh after the lead off batter reached by a walk. After an intentional walk and a wild pitch, the Utes had the bases loaded with one down. In a critical moment of the game, Deason, who is a valuable weapon out of the bullpen, forced Josh Rose to lineout to Cannon at second who flipped it to Boyd at short to complete the inning-ending double play.
The play provided a spark for the Wildcats who took the lead in the bottom half of the inning after Salazar lead off with a single and moved to second on a bunt by Cannon. Salazar then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Louis Boyd. After Alfonso Rivas walked, Jared Oliva put a charge into a ball to center but Utah center fielder DaShawn Keirsey chased it down for the final out.
The Utes responded in the eighth with a leadoff double by Ellis Kelly who came around to score on a single by Oliver Dunn to tie the game. Utah did not stop there however as next batter Dallas Carroll singled in Keirsey to give the Utes the 3-2 lead. With the bases loaded and two away, Utah catcher Zack Moeller hit a slow bouncer up the middle and Cannon made a spectacular play to his right and did his best Derek Jeter impression with a leaping throw while falling away to get the Wildcats out of the inning and minimize the damage.
The Utes tacked onto their lead in the eighth when Kelly added another RBI hit to make it 4-2. Then Hunter Simmons hit a two-run single to give them the four-run advantage.
The Wildcats will look to avoid the sweep Saturday at 6 p.m. at Hi-Corbett.
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