Coming off a three-game series sweep of the Washington Huskies and a hard-fought win over Grand Canyon, the Arizona Wildcats looked to carry this momentum into a weekend series against the Cal Golden Bears. Let’s take a look, game-by-game, at how the Wildcats fared against the Golden Bears:
After the two teams traded blows for most of the game Friday night, Cal blew the game open in the eighth inning by scoring six runs to take a 10-4 lead.
Cal first baseman and projected first-round pick Andrew Vaughn flew out to the warning track in the first inning, with UA coach Jay Johnson wanting nothing to do with him, as the Wildcats intentionally walked him in his next three at-bats.
However, as he stepped to the plate in the eighth inning with runners on first and second base and only one out, Arizona had no choice but to pitch to him, with the slugger ripping a single up the middle to give Cal a 5-4 lead.
“That’s a professional,” Johnson said after the game. “That’s as good as it gets. I mean that’s two strikes, fastball — to stay inside it and hit it with that kind of authority is remarkable. He’s pretty special.”
The following hitter was catcher Korey Lee, who smashed a three-run home run to dead center to give Cal an 8-4 lead. They went on to score two more runs in the inning.
Arizona got one run back in the eighth, trailing 10-5 into the bottom of the ninth. The Wildcats found themselves with runners on first and second and two outs, ultimately getting what would have been the game-winning run to home plate before Ryan Holgate flew out to left field to end the game.
Matthew Dyer and Brandon Boissiere each had three-hit days for the ‘Cats, while freshman Austin Wells extended his on-base streak to 26 games, the longest such streak by a Wildcat since Nick Quintana reached base in 28 straight games in 2017. Donta Williams has also reached base in 24 consecutive games for the UA.
The Wildcat bats had their hands full Saturday evening against Cal pitcher Jared Horn, who entered the night with a 1.96 ERA over five starts.
Arizona jumped on Horn in the first inning, as back-to-back doubles by Wells and Quintana gave the ‘Cats an early 1-0 lead. It looked like the Wildcats could ultimately get to Horn, but that was far from the case, as following a Boissiere single with one out in the second inning, the Wildcats failed to get any runners on base until the eighth inning.
“I really thought Horn pitched the best game that anyone has pitched against us this year,” Johnson said. “He’s been really good this year, and he was really good tonight. Give the credit to the pitcher. If you missed your pitch, it was going to be hard.”
Back-to-back singles by Cameron Cannon and Boissiere were followed by sacrifice flies by Justin Wylie and Holgate to cut the Cal lead to 5-3 going into the ninth.
The Golden Bears were able to tack on two runs in the ninth to win by a score of 7-3, squandering a solid effort by Arizona pitcher Quinn Flanagan.
Flanagan, who entered the game with a 4-0 record at home, surrendered three runs in 5.1 innings of work to ultimately take the defeat.
The Wildcats picked up some early offense with two runs in the third, and that was all they needed behind a beautiful pitching performance from starter Andrew Nardi. Arizona took the series finale by a score of 4-2 to salvage a game in the series.
After picking up his second win of the season in last Sunday’s win over the Washington Huskies, Nardi looked to continue that momentum into this start and help the Wildcats avoid a sweep against Cal.
The junior lefty was able to work around leadoff hits in each of the first three innings. He got into jams in the second, fourth and fifth innings, allowing multiple baserunners in each, but was able to work around all of them.
Nardi finished the afternoon throwing six shutout innings, allowing seven hits while striking out six hitters and walking three.
Arizona’s bats gave him all the support he needed in the third inning, as a Wells double and Boissiere single gave the UA an early 2-0 lead.
Matthew Dyer blasted his third home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth to give the Wildcats pitching staff some breathing room, before Avery Weems closed the game out for Arizona in the ninth.
Arizona (18-16, 6-9 Pac-12) now finds themselves entering one of their toughest stretches of the season, going on the road to both Oregon State and Stanford with a home game against Grand Canyon in between. Their first matchup will be on the road in Corvallis as they take on the Beavers, with the series beginning Thursday at 7 p.m.
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