The Arizona baseball team cruised to an easy seven-inning victory over New Mexico State 14-3 in a single non-conference game at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday, May 18.
Here are the key stats that popped off the stat sheet in the win:
Arizona hit 6-14 with runners in scoring position
The Wildcats hit well with runners in scoring position in their previous series against Washington and didn’t let up for a second in this category against New Mexico State Tuesday night. Arizona did what they do best as they have been known for timely at-bats and excellent situational hitting all season. They were just a shave under .500 when hitting with runners in scoring position in this game.
After a strong series against Stanford and hitting a walk-off against Washington over the weekend, Nik McClaughry continued his hot stretch of play as he hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game at one apiece for the Wildcats in the bottom of the second inning. In the bottom of the third, Arizona would tie the game once again after Daniel Susac lined an RBI double to left field to even the score at two. Moments later, Jacob Berry decided to give the Wildcats the 3-2 lead after a wild pitch allowed him to score easily.
The Wildcats would blow the game wide open in the fourth as they put up an eight spot in the bottom frame of the inning. Arizona went on to score three runs off two wild pitches and an error alone in the inning. The Aggies’ pitching tonight was never in sync and struggled mightily with command of the strike zone. Not to mention, their defense made costly errors throughout the contest that allowed Arizona runners to either take an extra base or score. The most memorable moment of the big inning came when Mac Bingham lined a double to left-center field which drove in another two runs for the Wildcats.
Arizona’s scoring onslaught didn’t stop there as they would add two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Branden Boissiere hit a sacrifice fly to left field which plated another run and added to his team’s already commanding 12-3 lead. Tyler Casagrande went on to score the final run for the Wildcats after a single to center field by Kaden Hopson made it a 14-3 advantage.
Arizona head coach Jay Johnson had high praise for the performances from his eight and nine hitters in the lineup in Tony Bullard and McClaughry. Both combined to go 4-6 at the plate and knocked in three runs in the winning effort.
“High standard for quality at-bats and let the results follow,” Johnson said. “Those guys are quality at-bat machines right now, and they’re making a big contribution to our offense being our offense.”
New Mexico State only hit 1-10 with runners on base
If you want to score runs and give your team the best chance of winning a game, then the team must come through in situational hitting and hit well with runners on base. New Mexico State fell short in this category in their previous matchup against Arizona last month and plagued themselves once again by hitting only 1-10 with runners on base tonight.
After getting out to a 2-1 lead with bases loaded and only one out in the top of the third inning, the Aggies gave themselves a legitimate opportunity to get out to a sizeable lead against one of the top teams in the nation. All it would have taken was one hit, and New Mexico State is out in front by three or even four runs. However, Arizona relief pitcher Chandler Murphy ended the Aggies’ upset hopes before they even began. Murphy went on to strand the bases with two straight outs and prevent New Mexico State from ushering any further damage. This was the turning point in the game as this failed scoring opportunity would come back to really hurt the Aggies.
New Mexico State had only four hits in total to show for their efforts. They struggled all night to keep up with Arizona’s pitching, never really seeming to get a good feel for the plate. Their hitting woes can be contributed to the commendable performances of starting pitcher Riley Cooper and relievers Chandler Murphy and Randy Abshier.
Arizona pitching staff allowed only two earned runs in seven innings
The Arizona pitching staff was electric tonight as they allowed only two runs to cross home plate. The combination of Cooper, Murphy and Abshier was the difference in this game. Between the three, they allowed only nine out of the 30 batters they faced to reach base safely.
Despite getting to Cooper in the third inning, it was a dominant performance by Arizona pitching as they struck out seven straight batters during one stretch. That stretch came from the likes of Murphy and Abshier as they both did an excellent job getting ahead early in counts, putting away batters with great pitch placement and execution of off-speed pitches. Combined, they gave up only two hits, two walks and pitched the lights out with nine strikeouts. Both went on to retire the side once in their appearances.
Cooper, Murphy and Abshier combined to record a final stat line of seven innings pitched, permitting only four hits, four walks, two earned runs and a stellar 12 strikeouts. It was chalked up as yet another dominant performance by the pitching staff as they put their paws all over this game. Johnson gave a lot of credit to pitching coach Nate Yeskie for the development and success that the Arizona pitching staff has experienced this season.
“He was brought here to bring a competitiveness to our pitching staff that I want to identify with our program,” Johnson said. “He’s done a great job teaching [and] developing and with that, the timing was good with the pitching recruits we were bringing in in 2019. Chandler [Murphy] an example of that tonight. I think you saw a guy like Randy Abshier who’s really made a step forward which has been great for us. I think [Yeskie has] done a great job.”
Arizona will look to carry the momentum of their current four-game winning streak on the road for a pivotal three-game series against Oregon State which can decide first place implications in the Pac-12. The series will open on Friday, May 21 and conclude on Sunday, May 23.
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