In the first game of 2014, the Arizona Wildcats cruised to a 13-1 win over Kent St., thanks to great pitching from James Farris, and clutch hitting from some new faces.
Farris threw 100 pitches during his 7 2/3 innings, striking out nine, and giving up just six hits and one walk.
"The first three innings, there's a lot of negative things I think of," said Farris. "But later on in the game, my location started coming around with the fastball, and my offspeed was on too."
"I thought he did a marvelous job," said head coach Andy Lopez.
Arizona put the game away in the fourth, sending ten hitters to the plate in the inning while scoring seven runs, highlighted by a 3-run double from freshman Willie Calhoun.
"We recruited him with that in mind," coach Lopez said. "He looks pretty consistent, and that's why he's hitting in the two-hole, and he showed some really good things tonight."
"Coach came up to me, and said you've only got three options," said Calhoun. "You can either get a hit, sac fly, or strike out, and he said 'I want you to get a hit', and we laughed about it a little. I was just looking for a pitch to drive the run in from third, so I just put a good swing on it."
"I definitely thought that broke the game open," he continued. "That's when we started getting hot as a team."
"It helps a lot," Farris said of the long inning. "It also does a lot of other things like sitting that long, it's hard for a pitcher to come out with the same mental toughness."
"That seven-run inning, that was huge, and it just gave me the boost of confidence I needed."
Kent St. may have helped Calhoun with that hit, pulling left-handed starter Brian Clark after he walked Kevin Newman. That set up a righty/lefty match up for Calhoun when the Flashes brought in Spencer Bryant.
"I was expecting to face him but I ended up facing the dude out of the pen, which was a plus for me," Calhoun joked. "It was a right on left match up with bases loaded. That's always good."
Trent Gilbert, Zach Gibbons and Cody Ramer also had multi-hit games, but Calhoun was the only guy with more than one RBI, finishing with four in his first career game.
"That was a perfect first night for me," Calhoun said. "I'm lucky and I'm blessed that all happened for me." His dad, brother and grandpa were all in attendance to see his first collegiate game.
"It's good to see the young guys get involved ASAP," said coach Lopez.
Calhoun was the DH, which is unfamiliar territory for him.
"There's no real different routine offensively," he said. "I just gotta keep up. The only thing I'm doing is hitting, so I have to contribute all I can with all the hitting I can."
Also during the bottom of the fourth, Kent St. catcher Tommy Monnot had to leave the game after taking a wild pitch off the body, and had a hard time walking to the dugout. He was on the verge of fainting, but he got help, and was on his knee for a while before being taken to the Arizona clubhouse.
At the end of the game, both Xavier Borde and Tyler Parmenter recorded two outs for Arizona on the mound. This was Parmenter's first-ever game as a pitcher. Borde did walk the first batter he faced, while Parmenter gave up a hit.
"Borde got a little wild on us, but the key is both those guys have the ability to help us this year," said Lopez. "Both have good arms, secondary pitches, but there's not much resume in terms of experience."
"I hope I can pitch them all three games this weekend. The big thing is getting them on the mound and letting them feel what a game feels like."
These two teams play again Saturday night at 6 PM at Hi Corbett. Check in here for the live video and game chat.
- Kent State vs. Arizona: Starting lineups, Game chat and streaming video of season opener
- NCAA bracket: Mock Selection puts Arizona in West Regional
- Arizona vs. ASU: Time, TV and a different Duel in the Desert
- Arizona baseball: Golden Spikes Award Watch List: Kevin Newman makes 60-man preseason list
- Arizona baseball: Wildcats start the season against Kent State