UCLA vs. Arizona: Wildcats win weird one to claim series victory over Bruins

Zach Gibbons scored the game-winning run against UCLA on Sunday - Jason Bartel

Name a weird thing that can happen during a baseball game, and it happened on Sunday. But Arizona prevailed in walkoff fashion

For the first time since 2005, the Arizona Wildcats took a regular-season series from the UCLA Bruins after Kevin Newman hit a walk-off single to third base.

"That was definitely a moment where definitely two deep breathes were in need."

Newman had two strikes on him, and the pitch before had a check swing that the umpire ruled he didn't go around.  But Newman was already running towards first.

"I personally thought I did go," the shortstop said afterwards.  "I thought it was definitely really, really, really close, but thankfully I didn't get rung up."

"I talked to some of the guys in the dugout, and some said I went, and some said I held up.  I'll try to find the replay tonight to find out myself."

"Check swings in college baseball are kind of like bigfoot," joked head coach Andy Lopez.  "You hear that they're there, but you've never found it."

"There are some rumors that it's out there."

Coach had no comment on his opinion on if Newman went around.  "They're like the bigfoot monster man.  There's no such thing as a check swing.  It's unbelievable."

Newman's chopper to third scored Zach Gibbons, who had doubled over the left fielder's head to start the ninth inning.

"When I got two strikes, I said I got to choke up and make contact," Newman continued.  "And hopefully it will take care of itself, and it did."

Gibbons' double in the ninth was his second of the game, which was as many extra-base hits that he had the entire season before Sunday.

"I was just cheating on fastball in today," Gibbons explained.  "That helped a lot.  (In the ninth) I was looking offspeed, but he threw a fastball up and in and I got my front foot down and got around on it."

"I think it's crazy that I only had two extra-base hits and that I got two tonight."

Gibbons also thought that Kevin Newman went around on that check-swing.

Arizona was only in a position to win the game thanks to a stellar relief pitching performance from Cody Mofett, who went 3 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits, and striking out three.

"Moffett was outstanding tonight," Lopez added.  "He's probably the reason we won.  Tonight Moffett won that game for us."

"Location on my pitches and defense helped out a lot," Moffett said.  "That's just about it."

The lefty had been dealing with a bout of walking pneumonia this season, but he is almost back to full-strength.

"More so than Troupe, losing Moffett to pneumonia, god that was a bugaboo." Lopez said.

"I'm getting a lot stronger," Moffett continued.  "It's nice to feel stronger and get the feel back."

"I'm getting stronger every day, but I feel 100%, but I keep getting stronger.  I feel great though."

Injuries galore

During the game, three big-time players went down.  UCLA lost Brian Carroll after a big collision in left going for a Joseph Maggi flare.  Carroll hit his head on Ty Moore's knee diving for the ball.  Moore stayed in the game and replaced Carroll in center.

Even scarier for the Bruins is the apparent elbow injury sustained by closer David Berg.  Berg came in after that Carroll injury in the sixth, and pitched the next 2 2/3 before he started to favor his arm while throwing warm up tosses before the ninth.

"I hope their guys okay," Lopez stated.  "I told our guys in the seventh inning that 'Hey, this is one of the best guys in the nation.  Let's try and beat this guy'.  So I hope he's okay, and their center fielder as well."

(After watching the re-air, it definitely seems like a bicep thing and not an elbow.  And it happened in the 8th.  UCLA ran him back out there for warmups in the ninth and then pulled him when it was obvious he couldn't keep going.)

On the Arizona side, Scott Kingery hurt his foot and ankle lunging for first base trying to beat out a double play ball.

"He has a bone bruise of the heel and an ankle issue," Lopez detailed afterwards.  "My history with those is that they don't go away very soon, so we may have to go without him."

"He says he'll be okay," added Kevin Newman.  "He says he thinks it's a sprain, but I don't know.  He was walking around in a boot after so we'll see how it goes."

Zach Gibbons moved from left to center when the injury happened, and he's ready to take over center if need be.

"I played it in high school, so I feel good there.  Center's just another position."

Bees attack

There was a slight delay early in the game when a swarm of bees started to form around Trent Gilbert.  That was just the start of what was probably the weirdest game Arizona has played at Hi Corbett.

"We had the bees, we had some injuries, but it was definitely a weird one," Newman joked.  "It was three and a half hours.  Without those injuries we're probably out of here in two hours and forty minutes.  But it was a good one."

What's next?

Arizona plays at USC Thursday - Saturday next weekend because of the Easter holiday.  USC is scuffling right now too, so this Wildcat team going on a run is definitely not out of the question.  Winners of six of their last seven, all of the sudden this team is showing energy, showing fight, and have been able to fight through adversity during games.  Weird how much a baseball team can change in the course of a week, but that has happened, especially the last two nights against UCLA.

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