Wildcats drop opener to Utes at Hi Corbett
Arizona pitcher Cameron Ming (47) throws during the baseball game against Utah on April 21 at Hi Corbett Field.
No. 7 Arizona baseball dropped game one of a three game series against the unranked Utah Utes 12-5, Thursday night at Hi-Corbett. The Wildcats tried crawling their way back from the Utes early lead, but the Utes utilized their best arm out of the bullpen, junior Jayson Rose to shut down Arizona.
Randy Labaut started on the mound for Arizona leaving the Utes scoreless in the top of the first.
Arizona sophomore Alfonso Rivas hit a home run to right field in his first at-bat of the night giving the Cats a 1-0 lead in the first.
The Utes responded quickly to the Arizona lead and tied the game with an RBI single to the right side. Arizona reached into their bullpen early relieving Labaut during the second for right-handed pitcher Seve Romo. Romo came into the game with two outs and bases loaded, but quickly wrapped up the inning leaving the Utes to only one run on the board.
It was a quick bottom of the second for Arizona leaving them scoreless. Utah shortstop Ellis Kelly hit a single up the middle in the third, bringing in two runs.
Arizona right fielder Cal Stevenson led off the Cats in the bottom with a home run over right field cutting the deficit to one. Center fielder Jared Oliva followed with a double up right field, but the Utes held the Cats the remainder of the inning.
Right-handed pitcher Landon Faulkner came onto the hill for Arizona going into the top of the fourth. The Utes added another run to the board with a single RBI to lead the game 4-2.
Arizona was unable to cross the plate during the bottom leaving the Utes to a two run advantage.
“You can’t get frustrated,” said Arizona head coach Jay Johnson. “These guys are here for a reason. They have to develop and its not always easy, but you have to make personal choice to support them and then figure out how to help them get better.”
Utah carried over their momentum going into the fifth as the Utes hit a single to right field and was able to advance to second on a fielding error by Stevenson. The Arizona error led the Utes to add two runs to the board.
“We’ve played good defense for a while,” said Johnson. “A lot of balls were in play tonight and we had an unfortunate play. They [Utah] hit the ball through the field a lot. They are good hitters and we were shifted a couple of times.”
Arizona started to crawl their way back up during the fifth with junior JJ Matijevic hitting a double to right field. Junior Mitchell Morimoto walked to first due to being hit by a pitch followed by a hard hit single to left field by freshman Nick Quintana to bring in Matijevic. Sophomore catcher Cesar Salazar reached on fielder’s choice bringing in Morimoto unearned.
Arizona right-handed pitcher Austin Schnabel relieved Faulkner in the top of the sixth, but the Utes were able to cross the plate two times leaving the Cats to trail behind 8-4. Right-handed pitcher Juan Aguilera soon relieved Schnabel with two outs and closed the inning with a strikeout.
The Utes relieved their star pitcher going into the sixth with left-handed pitcher Jacob Rebar and kept the Wildcats from crossing in the sixth.
“[Rose] is one of the best in college baseball,” said Johnson. “He had to come out of the game after the fifth inning because he was at a 100 pitches, so we made him work.”
Double-digits were hit in the seventh with a Utah’s Hunter Simmons being brought in on a home run by designated hitter Wade Gulden leaving the Cats behind 10-4.
It was all about motivation in the bottom for the Cats with Oliva to lead off with a double to left center followed by a single to center field by Matijevic. Morimoto hit a sacrificed fly ball to right field to being in Oliva but the Cats were unable to cross once more.
Going into the eighth inning Utah was able to grab ahold of two more runs, but Arizona was able to turn over a double play to get back to the plate.
The Wildcats were unable to add more to the board giving the first game of the series to the Utes 12-5.
“We didn’t get very good pitching performance tonight by anybody,” said Johnson. “I wouldn’t even say it was a bad game. I would say we didn’t pitch great and it’s a good enough team to take advantage of.”
Arizona will take on the Utes in game two of the three-game series Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m. with JC Cloney starting on the mound. Game three will be on Saturday, April 22 at 6 p.m.
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