Arizona Baseball falls to Sam Houston State in regional opener
Arizona fell to Sam Houston State, 5-4, in the Wildcats’ NCAA Lubbock Regional opener on Friday night.
The regional marks the 39th NCAA Postseason appearance for Arizona, who is looking for its 18th College World Series appearance.
“Great college baseball game, NCAA tournament baseball game. Two really great teams, doing what they do,” said Arizona coach Jay Johnson. “You have to credit Sam Houston State. We seemed to be one hit, one play away from deserving to win tonight, so you give them all the credit.”
Senior left-hander JC Cloney got the start on the mound for the Wildcats, and he threw seven innings. During his outing Cloney gave up five runs, a season high for the senior. He also gave up 10 hits and no walks.
Sam Houston State was able to get ahead of Cloney early and take the lead, 1-0, in the top of the second inning courtesy of a fielder’s choice and throwing error from senior Arizona shortstop Louis Boyd.
Arizona threatened Houston in the bottom of the third inning after loading the bases with no outs, courtesy of singles from senior Kyle Lewis, Boyd and junior Cal Stevenson. Arizona tied the game after a ground ball fielder’s choice from junior JJ Matijevic allowed Lewis to score. That was all the Wildcats could get in the inning, and the game moved into the fourth inning tied, 1-1.
The Wildcats threatened in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out double to center field that was just shy of being a home run from freshman Nick Quintana and a walk to sophomore Cesar Salazar. Lewis stepped up to the plate and hit a single to right field, and Quintana attempted to score from second but was thrown out by the Sam Houston State right fielder Hunter Hearn. The inning ended with a fly out in foul territory from Boyd.
Despite getting the first two batters on base in the bottom of the fifth inning, Arizona did not score and the game remained tied heading to the sixth, 1-1.
The Bearkats broke the tie in the top of the sixth inning. Singles from Bryce Johnson and Clayton Harp put two runners on with two outs. Robie Rojas hit a three-run home run to right center to give Sam Houston State the lead, 4-1.
Arizona responded in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff triple to right-center field from junior Ryan Haug. He scored on a sacrifice ground out from Salazar, cutting the Bearkats’ lead down, 4-2.
Hearn started the seventh inning for Sam Houston State with a single to the right side from Hearn, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Lance Miles. The Bearkats got their three-run lead back when Hearn scored on a left-field single from Taylor Beene, making it 5-2.
For Arizona, the seventh inning started with a single from Boyd, who advanced to second on a fielding error from Harp in left field. Boyd advanced to third on a single from Matijevic, and scored on single from junior Jared Oliva, cutting down the Bearkat lead, 5-3.
Sophomore Alfonso Rivas continued the rally for the Wildcats with a single to center, bringing in Matijevic and moving Oliva to third with one out. Moving into the eighth inning, Sam Houston State remained on top, 5-4.
In the top of the eighth, sophomore right-hander Michael Flynn took over on the mound for Cloney. He finished out the game for the Wildcats, throwing two innings and not allowing a run or hit.
The last two innings finished quietly, with neither team scoring a run. The final score was in favor of Sam Houston State, 5-4.
The Wildcats will face Delaware in an elimination game at 2 p.m. CST Saturday at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
** Editor's Note: McKenzi Morris is Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Toreador at Texas Tech University. Morris is covering regionals for the Daily Wildcat.
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