Arizona convincingly takes final game of ASU series

Arizona baseball utility player Bobby Dalbec not only made his first start on the mound on Monday, he also led the revival of the Wildcats’ bats in the ninth inning to end the UA’s losing streak.

Arizona (23-11, 8-7 Pac-12 Conference) upset No. 4 ASU 7-2 to avoid the sweep in the archrivals’ Pac-12 series.

Dalbec pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in his first start. He also hit two home runs, a solo home run in the second and a two-run go-ahead shot in the ninth off of ASU closer Ryan Burr.

“It was real cool,” Dalbec said. “It’s always a good feeling to be able to do that and come through for the team and be in big situations.”

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Dalbec gave up five hits, zero runs, two walks and struck out four on the mound.

“He’s done a great job; he’s really been good,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “He’s done everything he’s asked. He closed, he’s hit home runs, he’s doubled, he’s done a marvelous job.”

The ninth inning homer opened the floodgates, as the UA offense scored six runs that inning. 

Third baseman Cody Ramer got the next RBI, hitting Burr with the ball to knock him out of the game. Then, center fielder Justin Behnke drew a bases loaded walk.

Second baseman Scott Kingery singled to drive in another run, and shortstop Kevin Newman got an RBI on a sacrifice fly.

Dalbec has 10 home runs now, the first Wildcat with at least 10 homers since 2008. He hit three total long balls in the series with his two on Monday night.

“They were huge, about as big as they get in a rivalry game against a big arm like Burr,” Dalbec said about the homers on Monday. “It’s a good feeling.”

Dalbec, the UA’s former closer, recorded three strikeouts in the fourth but gave up a hit and his first two walks in the fifth inning.

Lopez said he should have pulled Dalbec after the first walk because that was around his pitch limit as he makes the move from closer to starter.

Nathan Bannister came in to relieve him and got out of a bases loaded, one out jam with two strikeouts.

Bannister went two innings, giving up three hits, two runs, zero walks and getting three strikeouts.

Lopez said he will move Bannister into the starting rotation, probably as the Saturday starter, but he might put Dalbec there.

New closer Tyger Talley (4-0) went 2.2 innings and gave up one hit, zero runs, two walks and recorded three strikeouts to get the win.

“Good for him to do it in this environment,” Lopez said. “Good for him to get to the 50-pitch count.”

Up next for the Wildcats is a trip to Oregon State (23-11, 6-6).

“I think now the rotation is going to be a strong one,” Talley said, “because now we got guys that can go deep into games and hand me the ball late in games, and I think we can go get wins.”

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Updated December 8, 2021