Arizona baseball seemed back on track in Sunday’s 5-2 victory at Utah.
The Wildcats (14-19, 4-8 Pac-12) won the series against the Utes after a shaky start on Friday in a 7-3 loss. Over the next two contests, Arizona outscored and out-hit the Utes 11-3 and 21-13, respectively, en route to seizing its first Pac-12 Conference series win of the year.
“[The team] did what they know they needed to do and played good, clean baseball,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “We had good pitching all three games, with the exception of that one inning on Friday. Cody Hamlin was outstanding, Tyger Talley was really good and we had good relief out of the pen. We had timely hitting [on Saturday], came out swinging today and got some runs early.”
Sophomore outfielders Zach Gibbons and Scott Kingery combined to go 6-for-9 with three RBIs on Sunday.
Kingery collected seven hits in 12 at-bats in the series against the Utes and leads the team with a .398 batting average over 33 games this season. Sophomore pitcher Tyger Talley (1-0) made his weekend rotation debut and efficiently worked seven innings while needing only 83 pitches to gain his first win.
The Utes threatened late, but sophomore reliever Nathan Bannister pitched a scoreless eighth inning, allowing two hits and sophomore left-handed pitcher Cody Moffett closed the door on the Utes after entering with one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth.
Moffett has now picked up two saves in as many games for the Wildcats. Sunday’s game could have very easily turned into one similar to Friday’s series opener, where Arizona squandered a late-inning lead to ultimately lose 7-3 off a grand-slam home run.
On Friday, after leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Utah responded with a five-run onslaught and defeated Arizona to gain its first conference victory of the season.
“We really played good baseball for three games and could have very easily won all three, but I give credit to Utah for coming back in the eighth,” Lopez said.
In Saturday’s game, the Wildcats captured their first victory in six chances on the road after plating five runs in the 10th to even the series.
In the 10th, a pair of doubles by sophomore pinch-hitter Cody Ramer and freshman right fielder Kenny Meimerstorf drove in three runs, while junior catcher Riley Moore added a two-RBI single.
Junior pitcher Cody Hamlin turned out another strong outing. He pitched 8.2 innings and gave up one run off five hits while striking out two and walking one.
Hamlin was relieved by freshman infielder/pitcher Bobby Dalbec (1-2), who got the win. Moffett came in and got the final out along with his first save of the season.
“We did something I haven’t seen us do this year, and that’s play consistently good baseball for three days in a row,” Lopez said after Sunday’s contest. “It’s definitely a good sign.”
Next up, Arizona takes on ASU in a single non-conference game on Wednesday evening at Packard Baseball Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17