TUCSON, Ariz. - With an 8-5 victory over San Francisco on Monday afternoon, the No. 15 Arizona baseball team improved their record to 16-5 on the season.
The Cats' sweep of the visiting Dons puts an end to non-conference play. Pac-10 action begins this weekend with a battle against in-state rival No. 6 Arizona State.
After pitching back to back shutouts in the first two games of the series, the Cats found themselves down early after giving up a first inning run to the Dons.
The Dons' lead would not last. Arizona quickly answered in the bottom of the first inning with a Steve Selsky two-run home run to left field.
Tyler Hale, although surrendering a first inning run, pitched 5.2 innings to improve to 3-0 on the season. Hale allowed seven hits while walking four in the game, but was effective in getting ground ball outs and inducing the double play ball.
After four straight scoreless frames by Hale, San Francisco (9-11) slowly battled their way back into this game. Travis Higgs tagged Hale for a two-run home run to cut Arizona's lead to five.
As Hale's night concluded, and the game was turned to the bullpen, Arizona took an 8-3 lead into the sixth inning. Thanks to a flurry of base hits, the Cats' 15 hits on Monday pushed the series total to 47 against the visiting Dons.
Konner Wade, who came in relief for Hale in the sixth inning, got the final out of the inning. From there, it was downhill for Wade. He gave up two runs in the seventh as the Wildcats' lead, once 8-1 over the Dons, was now 8-5.
Although the bullpen looked a little shaky in the sixth and seventh innings, it settled down from there.
Bryce Bandilla and Matt Chaffee closed the game with 3.0 scoreless innings. Bandilla, although allowing two hits and a walk, combined to pitch 2.0 innings in relief of scoreless ball. Chaffee pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two Dons to earn his first save of the season.
Arizona's hitting attack was led by the top and bottom of the lineup. Joey Rickard, the Cats' leadoff specialist had two hits while scoring twice for Arizona. Cole Frenzel collected three hits and two RBI to reach base for the 21st-consecutive game.
The bottom of Arizona's lineup got the job done as well. Alex Mejia got three hits and scored two runs from the No. 8 spot. Bryce Ortega finished his afternoon a perfect 3-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Arizona gets a break from mid-week games this week as they look ahead to the start of Pac-10 Conference play. The Wildcats will hit the road and travel to Tempe, Ariz., March 25-27 to take on in-state rival Arizona State.