In each of the first six innings of Friday night's game against Cal, the Arizona Wildcats put at least one runner on second base.
In each of those first six innings, and the next two, the Wildcats (24-15, 9-10 Pac-12) failed to score a run in support of Cody Hamlin. Cal (24-14, 11-8 Pac-12) took the series opener, and solidified themselves in fourth place in the Pac-12 standings with a 3-1 win.
Cal's only runs until the final inning came in the fourth. After starting the frame with back-to-back singles, Mitchell Kranson dropped a sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position.
A wild pitch would score Chris Paul for the first run of the night
After a Devin Pearson strikeout (one of three on the night), Preston Grand Pre got the first and only hit with runners in scoring position for either team. Grand Pre drove a single to right to bring in Brett Cumberland for run No. 2.
That was the only real trouble Hamlin ran into all night. Arizona's Friday night guy lasted 7 1/3 innings, surrendering seven hits and no walks.
"He has not pitched poorly that's for sure," head coach Andy Lopez said after the game. "He's matched up inning by inning, pitch by pitch. Just hasn't had much run support. I'm really happy with him."
But just like last weekend at Oregon State, Arizona couldn't come up with a timely hit. The Wildcats were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on the night.
"They got a couple clutch hits, and that's something we've been missing here the last couple weeks," Andy Lopez explained. "If you look at their approaches, they were groundballs, base hits, line drives. Ours are fly balls, and this is a good place for fly balls to go and die man."
"It's been a bugaboo," continued Lopez about the lack of hitting w/ RISP. "The one thing I don't want it to turn into is a bit of a phobia, where all of the sudden that's all they think about."
"I don't think everyone has a different approach," added Scott Kingery. "I think it's more of they're not getting the pitches they'll see in different at bats, and maybe they are too anxious, but I don't think anyone's intimidated by a pitcher when there's a guy in scoring position."
The only starters to not record a hit on the night were Bobby Dalbec and Riley Moore, the 3-hole and 4-hole hitters respectively.
Cal would tack on a run in the ninth. Kranson led off with a double, and then three batters later, Nick Halamandaris hit a double that went off Jared Oliva's glove in left to drive in their final run of the night.
Arizona sort of responded in the ninth. An Oliva double was kicked by the center fielder to allow him to advance to third. Zach Gibbons then walked, and Justin Behnke his a liner back to the pitcher. Cal's closer tried to turn the double play, but Oliva scored when Behnke was safe at first.
Scott Kingery grounded to short to end the game. It appeared he was safe at first, but the umpire called him out.
Andy Lopez spent a solid 20 seconds talking to the first base umpire after the game. When I asked Lopez if Kingery was safe, he said "It's hot here in August, huh? July too."
"It was a bang-bang play, what are you gonna do about it?" Kingery added through a smile. "I don't know what to say. It's tough to end the game like that, but gotta focus on tomorrow now."
Arizona will try to even the series on Saturday night as it sends Nathan Bannister to the mound. That game is scheduled to start at 6 PM PT.
"Tomorrow will be intriguing," said Lopez. "I kind of like it. I don't know if you build (character), but it sure reveals it."