After losing to the University of Mississippi late Saturday night, it was a quick turnaround for the Arizona baseball team as they took the field against Canisius College late Sunday morning. The Wildcats were able to power their way to a 7-5 win over the Golden Griffins to stay alive in the Coral Gables Regional.
Just like Saturday's game, Chase Davis opened up the scoring with a home run for Arizona, this one being a two-run home run in the first inning. Blake Paugh followed with a solo home run the next frame to give the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead.
TJ Nichols took the mound for Arizona. After a scoreless opening inning, he got a little wild as Canisius scored their first run on a balk and back-to-back wild pitches. Nichols was able to limit the damage with back-to-back strikeouts.
After Paugh walked and Mac Bingham singled to open the fourth inning, Nik McClaughry lifted a home run to left-center to put Arizona ahead 6-1.
Nichols found himself in more trouble in the fifth inning as Canisius cut the deficit to 6-3 and still had the bases loaded with one out when McClaughry made a diving throw from the ground to second base to start a double play to get Nichols and Arizona out of the inning.
"You don't really think when that happens," McClaughry said. "I just remember the ball was hit pretty hard so I had to take a step back and catch it. I just remember throwing it and hoping I threw it right to second [base]. If not, it might have gone into right field."
Nichols went on to earn the win allowing 3 runs on five hits over five innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
Eric Orloff entered the game first out of Arizona's bullpen. After a leadoff walk, he registered back-to-back strikeouts and looked like he was going to escape the frame unscathed when a single and double hit by Canisius cut the Wildcats lead to 6-5.
George Arias Jr. entered the game next to close out the sixth inning. He went on to strike out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning after Paugh launched another home run to put Arizona ahead 7-5 in the top half of the frame. Paugh hit 2 home runs for the Wildcats in this game after entering Sunday with 1 home run on the season.
Arizona manager Chip Hale called Paugh a veteran who "does everything right."
"If [Paugh] is not in the lineup, he roots for his teammates," Hale said. "[Paugh] does whatever he can to help us win a game and I wanted his bat in the lineup today, so we had a good feeling."
Arias Jr. went two shutout innings out of the bullpen, allowing one hit with four strikeouts.
"[Arias Jr.] has been pitching very well for us," Hale said. "A lot like Javyn [Pimental] before last night and that's why we are going to these guys right now. We get them to two innings, then we leave them out there for a third and we leave them in for a couple hitters too many and they end up with not the best numbers he could have had so that's why we got them out of there."
Hale called Arias Jr. the MVP of the game for Arizona.
Quinn Flanagan was able to close out the win for the Wildcats, recording the final four outs and helping Arizona avoid elimination.
The Wildcats will be playing again Sunday evening against the loser of the Miami-Ole Miss game this afternoon. Hale said Dawson Netz will be getting the start for Arizona.
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