The fourth time was the charm for the Wildcats on Saturday.
In the fourth inning, eight different Wildcats scored runs while twelve men came to the plate. Triples from Cody Ramer and Joseph Maggi were the lone extra-base hits, but four singles, a walk, an error, and a balk all added up to eight Arizona runs.
It was a much-needed big inning, as USC had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth on a bases-loaded triple from Timmy Robinson. But Arizona responded in a big way to get the second win of a must-sweep series. The Wildcats went on to win the game 18-4. The 18 runs tie a season high, when the Cats also scored 18 against Alabama State.
Outside of that fourth inning, James Farris (W, 5-5) was fantastic. The junior right-hander threw his first complete game of the year, fourth of his career, giving up just 4 runs on 7 hits with one strike out and just one walk.
"My fastball I could put it pretty much wherever I wanted to, and my offspeed I was struggling a little bit in the fourth through the seventh." said Farris.
The big bottom of the fourth helped Farris regain his composure after giving up three runs in the top half. "I gave up a lot of runs in that inning, so I came out of that inning kind of tired, so with that long inning it gave me a little bit of time to rest, time to cool down cuz I was kind of heated after that inning honestly."
Farris followed a great performance from Konner Wade on Friday, who went 9 1/3 innings after being sick for a couple of days. It definitely had an effect on Farris: "It definitely made me want to do the same thing as him, kind of competitive, but at the same time he helps me, and he kind of gives me the inside scoop of what's going on, how these hitters are gonna approach, what you need to do to get outs."
He continued, "Today I really just wanted to pound the zone because what I saw last night from Konner Wade was that if you throw strikes these guys will get outs."
"In this park you get rewarded for throwing strikes" said head coach Andy Lopez. "You get punished when you don't.....they both have done a real good job."
Kevin Newman was the big star of the Arizona lineup though, racking up a career-high six RBI. On Friday he talked about how he was offered scholarships from nine of the eleven PAC-12 schools, and USC was one of the two that didn't. Since he's from Poway, that didn't exactly sit well with him. It's safe to say he made them pay tonight.
Arizona (14-15 PAC-12) will throw last week's star Tyler Crawford on Sunday against someone from USC (10-19 PAC-12). The game starts at noon, and will be on PAC-12 Network. At the end of Saturday's game, Arizona continues to stay at No. 59 in the RPI. Hopefully that number sneaks up a little bit after Sunday as more of these teams lose.
For tomorrow's game, it's important to note that the bullpen has thrown a grand total of one pitch in the first two games of this series. "If we had a real solid pen over the last 8-10 weeks, yes (get people in tonight), but we've all seen leads disappear which is probably why we are where we are right now" said Lopez.
Tonight was senior night as well, where the six seniors (Tyler Hale, Vincent Littleman, David Lopez, Stephen Manthei, Augey Bill and Nick Cunningham) were all honored before the game. David Lopez was the only one to get action on Saturday, going 0-for-3 with a run scored after reaching base on a strike out.
"They're all great human beings, they've never been one problem off the field. Those guys may not be big-leaguers, but they are big-league human beings. I've been blessed to have them in the program, and I'm glad they're going to walk around the earth with a national championship on their resume."