The Arizona baseball team took two of three games from Arizona State for their second consecutive Pac-12 series win after also taking two of three from the Oregon Ducks last weekend.
Here is a quick recap of each game:
Thursday – Win 10-5
The story of the night in this game was five no-hit innings from Chandler Murphy with eight strikeouts and one walk to finish the game. Chase Silseth started the game, going four innings where he allowed five runs (all earned) on seven hits with one strikeout and two walks.
Head coach Jay Johnson showed nothing but praise for the performance from Murphy out of the bullpen.
“The first thing I drew to was the tempo,” Johnson said. “I mean, he had unbelievable tempo. I mean, we were not out on the field very long in innings five through nine on Thursday night and total credit to him and Daniel [Susac] behind the plate for keeping him going. I thought he just executed tremendously. I thought it was a focus level I have never seen out of him and really, really impressive kind of a wild card for us where we can plug him in at a moment’s notice to start on any day of the weekend frankly or use him in a role like that or come in a short stint and finish one off for us. I’m really proud of him. I think he certainly has ability. He’s always been a winner. He throws strikes with multiple pitches. I just thought his sharpness was at a different level on Thursday.”
After Donta' Williams and Jacob Berry both got on base to open up the game, Branden Boissiere drove them both in on a triple to give the Wildcats an early 2-0 lead. Arizona added in another run in the second inning on an RBI groundout by Nik McClaughry.
After shutting out the Sun Devils in the first three innings, Silseth got into some trouble in the fourth inning. Arizona State was able to bat around the lineup, racking up a number of singles to take a 5-3 lead through four innings.
After Ryan Holgate hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 5-4, the Wildcats exploded for six runs in the seventh inning. Arizona brought 12 hitters to the plate with the scoring highlight being a bases-loaded clearing triple by Tanner O’Tremba to give Arizona a 9-5 lead.
Friday – Win 7-6
Arizona State got off to an early 3-0 lead after one inning, but Arizona starter Garrett Irvin was able to settle in the next few innings. Irvin finished the night throwing four innings, allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Holgate opened up the scoring for the Wildcats with a solo home run in the third inning before Williams tied the game up with a two-run home run in the next inning.
The Sun Devils took the lead back in the bottom half of the fifth inning, but Arizona quickly tied it on a crazy inside the park home run by O’Tremba to open up the sixth inning.
“The ball was hit down the line, and the first thing I did was look at the umpire to make sure it was fair,” Johnson said. “And then I turned, and I looked at [O’Tremba]. It’s a for sure double, and then I started thinking in my head who is coming up next, how do we want to set this up? You know, we’re a run down and then I kind of looked down the line and I saw ball and I didn’t see Hunter Jump going to grab it. I immediately turned and coach [Dave Long] did a good job of continuing to send him to third, and then I kind of moved out of the dugout and started yelling like, you know, ‘Send him, run’ and you know, get to home plate and we’ll see what happens. It was a very odd play, but credit to [O’Tremba] for running hard out of the box and credit to coach Lawn for continuing to send him. Just one of those things I’ve never seen before, to be honest with you.”
After Arizona State plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Wildcats were able to plate three runs in the next half inning to take their first lead of the game capped off by an RBI single by Berry.
Preston Price entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, recording a four-out save with two strikeouts to clinch the series win for Arizona.
Saturday – Loss 3-2
This was a real pitchers duel to finish off the series.
Wildcats starter T.J. Nichols went six strong innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits with a career-high eight strikeouts and four walks. He was outdueled by Sun Devils starter Justin Fall, who also went eight innings allowing one run on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Wildcats were able to put runners on base, out-hitting Arizona State 11-5, but the Wildcats failed to capitalize going just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Arizona cut the deficit to 3-2 in the eighth inning when Berry grounded into a double play with runners on the corners and zero outs. O’Tremba was then hit by a pitch followed by a Kobe Kato single to put two runners on with two outs, but McClaughry struck out swinging to end the inning before the Wildcats went down quietly in the final inning to lose the series finale for the second consecutive weekend.
Despite falling in the series finale for the second straight weekend, Johnson said he liked the way his team fought on Saturday.
“I thought it was just a high-level Division I baseball game,” Johnson said. “I mean, two really good teams, two really good pitchers. I mean, you think about [Fall], a left-hander that’s 94 miles per hour, probably will be a top-three or four round pick and then [Nichols] on our side running it up to 98 miles per hour. Runs were at a premium. That wasn’t really a surprise to me going into the game. I thought we did a really good job creating opportunities for ourselves. I would give the credit to their pitchers for making some good pitches, and then their defense. They played really good defense last night and we were just one at-bat away from making it one of our normal games.”
The Wildcats will play the Sun Devils one more time on Tuesday, April 6, with this game being played in Tucson at Hi Corbett Field with first pitch being scheduled for 6 p.m. MST.
Johnson said he hopes to see as many fans as possible out at the field on Tuesday.
"I'd love the fans to be out there, as many as we can get," Johnson said. "The basketball season will be over at that point. Hopefully, we'll be celebrating a national championship, and then hopefully the community can continue that energy from that into supporting us, softball, tennis and all these other sports as we move forward. We haven't had ASU here in a long time. I mean, four years will have gone by the time they've played a conference series when they come down to Tucson next year. I hope they take advantage of this and support us. It would be great to have a charged atmosphere out here on Tuesday."
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