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Washington St. vs. Arizona final score: Wildcats lose after failing to get a clutch hit

This right here is a bad way to start conference play

Scott Kingery tries to lay down a bunt
Scott Kingery tries to lay down a bunt
Jason Bartel

It's been kind of a recurring theme this season, but the Arizona Wildcats once again failed mightily when presented with scoring opportunities.

"It's groundhog day," head coach Andy Lopez said.

This time though, it led to a series loss vs. Washington St., the team that had the worst record in the conference before this weekend.

The Wildcats had several chances late in the game, including having the tying run at third in the ninth inning. Joseph Maggi led the inning off with an infield single. Scott Kingery bunted him over to second, and then Cody Ramer grounded out to advance him to third.

Kevin Newman had a chance, but swung at the first pitch and softly popped out to the second baseman.

"I was just too antsy I guess," Newman said after the game. "He put a changeup out there, and I swung at it. Probably shouldn't have, wasn't really my pitch. I swung and what happened happened."

On the day, Arizona was just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Wildcats also left ten runners on base including Maggi in the ninth.

For a 3-2 game, there were a ton of hits from both teams. WSU had 11, and Arizona had 12. The Wildcat pitching is definitely doing their part right now, just gotta get those bats going.

"We had opportunities again, so I've gotta get better at coaching these guys in RBI at-bats," Lopez said. "Our strokes are too long. You have to be short strokes up the middle."

Zona also had a chance in the 8th after Bobby Dalbec worked out of a small jam in the top of the inning. Newman led the inning off with a single to left, but Lopez made a questionable decision of making Trent Gilbert bunt.

"I hated it," said Lopez of the situation. "Very rarely will I do that in all honesty, but the theme the last few days has been that runs are a premium, and I felt like we could get one."

"That was one that I replayed in my mind a few times."

"It was kind of a surprise (Gilbert) bunted the way he's going," Zach Gibbons added. "But I kind of knew that we were going to bunt."

Gibbons was up next after that sac bunt, and he grounded out to third for the second out of the inning.

"I was just trying to go up the middle," he explained. "But I ended up pulling out of a fastball."

Dalbec singled to make it a one-run game, but Riley Moore grounded into a fielders' choice at second to end the threat.

What's done is done, and Tuesday's a whole new game. But this is not exactly the kind of baseball that a team should be playing during conference play. It's gotta be frustrating for the pitching staff as well. Those guys are doing their jobs. And Dalbec was probably the best player both at the plate and on the mound this weekend outside of James Farris on Friday.

But how does a team go about fixing pressure situations? It all comes down to the mental game according to Kevin Newman.

"It's just being able to trust yourself," he said. "Trust your bat, trust your hands, trust your swing and believe in your ability. I know earlier in the year I was trying really hard to get my job done, and it wasn't working out for me. Then when I kind of relaxed more, it worked out better."

A quick break from Pac-12 play happens on Tuesday as Grand Canyon makes their first trip to Tucson as a Division-1 team. Expect to see Morgan Earman on the mound for Arizona. Last week the freshman went eight innings against Air Force, so he'll be coming in with some confidence as well. GCU has a couple of transfers from Arizona St., but none from UA. Their head coach is also a former Sun Devil. Kent State also had a Sun Devil alum coaching their team in Tucson this year.

Once again though, gotta get those bats going. And it needs to happen sooner than later.