The Arizona baseball team was victorious over New Mexico State 11-4 in a single game non-conference rubber match at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday, April 19.
Here are some key stats that stuck out in the win:
Bullpen accounts for zero earned runs in 8.2 innings pitched
After giving up the first run in the game and quickly finding himself in a bases-loaded jam with only one out in the top of the first inning, head coach Jay Johnson had seen enough. He immediately pulled starting pitcher TJ Nichols after facing only five batters in the game. Nichols would be replaced by Randy Abshier in relief as he helped get Arizona out of a huge jam despite allowing another run to score for New Mexico State.
It was bullpen by committee for the Wildcats on Tuesday, something that has been the case for this team in numerous games this season. Despite the Aggies getting to Nichols and taking a 2-0 lead early in the game, they had absolutely no answers for Arizona’s arms out of the pen. Abshier would finish his night allowing only one hit with four strikeouts and no earned runs on 2.2 innings pitched.
Dawson Netz and Gil Luna would follow suit as they combined for 5.0 shutout innings. They allowed only four hits, two walks and delivered eight strikeouts. George Arias Jr. would come in to finish the game in the ninth inning. He allowed only one hit and recorded three strikeouts to secure the win. The bullpen combined for 8.2 innings pitched, allowing only two runs that were unearned on six hits and recorded an impressive 15 strikeouts.
“I liked that they finished some guys off,” Johnson said. “[Abshier] walked that first guy when he came in but after that was outstanding. Got the double-play ball to really get us out of a mess right there. I don’t care how good your offense is, you don’t want to be chasing four or five [runs] in the first inning. I think that’s the story of those guys throwing strikes and keeping the momentum in our dugout, letting our offense be our offense. Really good win tonight, happy with the bullpen.”
Six players with two hits or more
Arizona’s offense has been very dominant all season, with a lineup full of professional-level hitters that can hit the cover off the ball. It’s no surprise that they are in the top-10 of almost every offensive category in the nation. It would be unwise to ever count this team out of a game no matter what the scoreboard reads.
The Wildcats' offensive prowess was on full display in this game as they batted in 11 runs on 16 hits. Nine of those hits came from Branden Boissiere, Mac Bingham and Kobe Kato alone as each of them had three hits apiece. Jacob Berry, Nik McClaughry and Daniel Susac also joined in on the hit parade as they combined hitting 6-12 at the plate and delivered two hits each. The Wildcats' impressive piece of hitting tonight was thanks in large part to being patient at the plate and displaying proficient plate discipline.
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Arizona hit 7-11 with runners in scoring position
In a category that they have struggled in several games this season, the Wildcats more than delivered with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. It all began in the second inning when Arizona would put up a four spot. Daniel Susac kicked things off with a sacrifice fly that scored a runner from third. Nik McClaughry soon followed with an opposite-field single down the first baseline which allowed the runner from second to score. Mac Bingham decided he wanted a piece of the action as he hit a two-out double that scored the runners from first and second base. The Wildcats hit 3-3 with runners in scoring position in just the second inning alone.
Arizona continued to flex its offensive muscles in the fourth inning as they brought six runs across. They went 4-8 with runners in scoring position in the inning thanks to timely hitting by McClaughry, Boissiere, Berry and Susac. Arizona batted through the order and didn’t record the second out of the bottom of the fourth until Kato’s second plate appearance of the inning. The Wildcats would go on to finish the game hitting at an outstanding 7-11 mark with runners in scoring position.
Tuesday’s performance proved that the Wildcats have one of the best offenses in the conference, something that relief pitcher Gil Luna has been preaching since the beginning of the season.
“We have probably one of the best offensive teams in the Pac-12,” Luna said. “I can stand by that, and I feel like the team really shows that. Being able to get on the mound and knowing, you might not want to, but it's okay to give up one or two runs because you have that offensive power in your back pocket. Right now, the offense is rolling. I feel like they always put up good at-bats, and when we’re down, it never feels like we’re out of it. I think that’s the biggest thing as a pitcher for myself and for our staff. Even if we’re not doing our job, they always make sure and let us know that they’re going to pick us up.”
Arizona will look to build on its three-game winning streak this weekend as they host USC at Hi Corbett Field for a three-game set and an opportunity to secure their fifth straight Pac-12 series win. The first game is on Friday, April 23 at 6 p.m. MST.
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