Baseball takes two of three in season’s opening series
After a rough outing on Saturday, the No. 5 Arizona baseball team bounced back on Sunday to finish off its opening weekend with a series win against the visiting North Dakota State Bison, 8-0.
“I’m happy to see us score some runs, it had been a little struggle,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “It wasn’t a great weekend, but when you win two out of three, it’s always a good one.”
The series started off well on Friday night as pre-season All-American Kurt Heyer pitched seven solid innings, striking seven out and allowing only one run in the Wildcats’ season debut at Hi Corbett Field.
Offensively, Arizona was led by sophomore Johnny Field, who went 4-for-4 on the night and was just a homer away from the cycle.
Amy Webb / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball vs. NDSU in the opening weekend of the season and on Hi-Corbet Field.
Field finished with a single, two doubles and a triple.
Steven Manthei came on to relieve Heyer and closed out the game with two scoreless innings.
Saturday was a different story for the Arizona bullpen, as it gave up six runs in the top of the eighth to spoil starter Konner Wade’s banner day.
The sophomore Wade had a career-high 13 strikeouts and held the Bison to only two runs through seven and one-third innings, but a combination of the bullpen’s failure and Arizona’s anemic offense led to an 8-2 NDSU victory.
Sunday’s contest was a pitcher’s duel through five innings with Arizona holding a 1-0 advantage.
The Wildcats were finally able to break through as the bats of Alex Mejia and Seth Mejias-Brean helped to add a combined four runs in the sixth and seventh.
Right fielder Robert Refsnyder added two runs in the bottom of the eighth as part of an Arizona effort that scored three in that half inning.
Refsnyder had a tremendous day at the plate with four hits and three RBIs for the Wildcats.
Arizona was held to just a combined five runs in the weekend’s first two games. Lopez said it could have just been the opening week jitters.
“We were sweeping the bat way too much, the approach is not a very good one,” Lopez said. “Anybody that knows the game probably watches this weekend and says, ‘My god, is coach Lopez talking to these guys?’ but we’ve talked about it and we’ll adjust.”
Sophomore James Farris got the nod for the Sunday start and held the hill through a complete game.
“I had a mindset today that it’s my ball, it’s my day, no one’s gonna stop me from having success on the mound,” said Farris, who allowed five hits and struck out six.
Hi Corbett move a success for opening weekend
The decision to change the Wildcats’ home venue to Hi Corbett Field had been one that was mulled around the athletic department for the better part of a year, but based on the opening weekend, the decision was a smart one.
This year’s opening weekend attendance of 8.870 was almost a quarter of all of last season’s total in just three games.
“It’s great to see the community come out, it’s nice to play in a big league facility like this,” Refsnyder said. “Having the student section too, it’s great.”