Arizona Baseball sweeps UMass Lowell in convincing fashion to open 2019 season
It was an opening series to remember for Arizona Wildcats baseball, highlighted by the collegiate debuts of a number of freshman who helped lead this team to a series sweep of the UMass Lowell River Hawks.
The Wildcats were led by a great mix of power and pitching as they outscored the opposition 69-17 over the course of the four games.
Their power was on display as the lineup combined for fourteen doubles, three triples and five home runs.
Pre-Season All American second baseman Cameron Cannon most definitely lived up to the hype in this opening series, going 8 for 14 over the four games with six doubles, five runs driven in, and ten runs scored.
The Wildcats other Pre-Season All American, third baseman Nick Quintana, got off to a slow start going 2 for 12 with both of his hits being doubles. He also drove two runs in and scored two runs. Quintana bounced back in the final game of the series on Sunday, going 3 for 3 with two walks, two runs driven in and a run scored. He also showed some fancy leatherwork with a couple of nice backhand plays at third base.
“The first three games were fine. I was putting balls into play, wasn’t really pressing or anything. I wasn’t worried about it much,” said Quintana with confidence when asked how it felt to go for 3 for 3 on Sunday after starting off the series slow. “I was getting my walks, taking good at-bats, and getting runs in when I could. I just knew that I would get into that rhythm, I’d get comfortable. I was never pressing, never doubting myself or anything, so like [Matt] Frazier said before, it’s all the hard work paying off. It is cool to put together really good AB’s, and help the team win.”
The freshman tandem of Ryan Holgate and Austin Wells also provided an instant spark for the Wildcats offense. The two combined for twelve hits, four home runs, and nineteen RBI’s in this weekend’s opening series.
The Wildcats got some solid production from other hitters in the lineup as well, which includes eight hits and nine runs driven in from leadoff hitter Matt Frazier and another six hits with six runs driven in by sophomore Matthew Dyer. Coach Jay Johnson continues to mention the possibility of switching the lineup frequently, but this offensive outburst from the team this weekend may give him reason to re-think that idea.
On the pitching side, the team got very solid outings from both juniors Randy Labaut and Andrew Nardi, who were both able to pick up their first wins of the season. Freshman Bryce Collins surrendered a two run home run to UMass Lowell's Cam Climo in the first inning of game three, before settling down the rest of the game. Collins settled down the rest of the game, throwing four innings of two run ball, while allowing four hits with four walks to six strikeouts.
The starter in game four, who was also making his collegiate debut in freshman Quinn Flanagan, pitched a similar game as he also went four innings to the tune of two runs allowed (one earned), four hits and four strikeouts to no walks, picking up the first win of his collegiate career. He showed terrific command in his debut, throwing sixty pitches with forty-one of them being strikes.
It was three years ago to this day that Flanagan felt something pop during one of his starts in his junior year of high-school. He got an MRI about a week later, which is what ultimately led to him having to undergo Tommy John surgery. Many setbacks later, Flanagan was finally able to pitch again in Sunday’s win over UMass Lowell.
“It was great. It has been a long time coming,” Flanagan stated with a smile. “It felt really good to get back on the mound. It was exciting, I had a lot of family here.”
Quinn Flanagan made an arm slot adjustment in October with the coaching staff, which ultimately played big dividends in his outing Sunday afternoon.
“Yeah, last year I wasn’t feeling very good mechanics wise. I knew there was a couple of things that I had to work on, so we ended up working on that all last year, made some adjustments, and it really worked out in the end,” Flanagan said.
Coach Jay Johnson was consistent all series in taking his starters out early, as three of the four starters went no more than 70 pitches.
This led to a solid opening series from the bullpen, as the relief pitchers combined to go eighteen innings while allowing seven runs to the tune of a 3.50 team bullpen ERA. The core also combined to throw 15 strikeouts to 14 walks, proving to lose command at times this series.
Senior Cameron Haskell pitched a brilliant four innings of relief in game one, allowing just one run and three hits while earning the save. Freshman Randy Abshier and George Arias Jr. made their respective collegiate debuts as well in this series. Arias Jr. is a local Tucson native.
The River Hawks of UMass Lowell will continue a tough early stretch to the season as they head to face Georgia followed by North Carolina on the road. The Wildcats will hit the road on Tuesday afternoon, as they head to Texas for one game against Rice University and three games against the University of Houston.
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