Arizona baseball wins season opener in a rout
After just missing the NCAA tournament last year, the Wildcats were on a clear mission coming into this season. That mission began Friday night under the lights of Hi Corbett Field, when the Arizona Wildcats took on the River Hawks of UMass Lowell.
The Wildcats wasted no time getting to work early on, putting up four runs in the bottom half of the first inning, capped off with a three-run home run by freshman Austin Wells. Arizona stayed in control the rest of the way, defeating UMass Lowell 12-4 to start off the 2019 season.
“It was great to see these guys play. This team has worked extremely hard since August 20th and has prepared very well, so it’s not a surprise that they were ready to play all three phases. I think there was the excitement in the opening night, but a very professional feel to how they approached it,” head coach Jay Johnson said after the game.
Making his first start since suffering a compartment syndrome in his left leg in a start against the University of Washington in March of last season, Randy Labaut looked to regain the dominance he posted to begin last season.
Labaut finished the night throwing five innings, allowing three hits and three runs – two earned – while striking out five hitters to only one walk.
“I’d say it was a B,” Labaut said when asked how he would grade his opening performance. “Change-up command was a little off today, but you know, sometimes you have those days and you have to execute with what you have.”
Senior Cameron Haskell came in out of the bullpen in the sixth inning, adding on three strong innings of relief. Haskell allowed one run on two hits, both striking out and walking three hitters. The River Hawks put some pressure on the senior in the frame, getting two runners on base, but Haskell was able to get out of the jam by stranding both runners.
The new kids on the block carried the Wildcat offense tonight, as Wells and freshmen teammate Branden Boissiere combined for four hits and six runs driven in. Sophomore Donta Williams also added in two doubles. Wells came a triple short of the cycle.
“I went down 0-2, and I was like 'Well, here we go,'” Wells said when asked what was going on in his mind during his opening at-bat, when he hit a home run in his first career collegiate at-bat. “I kept fouling off pitches and then connected with one, and I blacked out. I got to second base, and was like alright, that happened.”
The Wildcats power was on display as the team combined for nine extra-base hits. This included doubles from five different players, triples by Matt Frazier and Matthew Dyer, on top of the previously mentioned home run to dead center by Wells.
Arizona and UMass Lowell will continue the series on Saturday with a double-header. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 1 p.m., with game two scheduled for 6 p.m.
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