SAN DIEGO, CA -- For the first seven innings, the Arizona Wildcats finally found themselves in a low-scoring pitcher's duel. But a five-run eighth off of San Diego State shortstop Alan Trejo changed that. Arizona's late offensive outburst gave them a 7-3 win on Sunday over the Aztecs, and a 2-1 record in the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic.
It was 2-2 heading into that eighth inning. San Diego State was able to get two runners on with a double and an intentional walk.
In came Rio Gomez to get the second out of the inning. The next batter then grounded one into the hole between short and third, but Louis Boyd was there to make the play, then threw across his body to first to get the third out of the inning.
"That play was probably the play of the game," head coach Jay Johnson said afterwards.
Ryan Aguilar stepped to the plate to lead things off in the bottom half of the inning with the dugout fired up. He dribbled one to SDSU pitcher Mike Diamond, who threw it away trying to get Aguilar at first. The Aztecs played poor defense all weekend, and that errant throw was their second error on the day.
A wild pitch by Diamond would move Aguilar to third, which forced SDSU head coach Mark Martinez to go to Trejo. Five of the next six Arizona hitters would reach base, including this hit by Alfonso Rivas to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
Rivas puts Arizona in front! pic.twitter.com/fWc2RnewPk— AZ Desert Swarm (@azdesertswarm) February 29, 2016
"I was just trying to stay calm," the freshman said about his mindset coming to the plate. "Get a good pitch and put a good swing on it. Staying calm helps me see the pitch really well. Luckily I got a changeup up. He hung it, and I put a good swing on it."
It was Rivas' only hit of the day, but after a huge couple of days on Friday and Saturday, he was the lone Arizona representative on the all-tournament team.
"It's a huge honor," Rivas said of the distinction. "Being a freshman and being on the all-tournament team is unreal."
The Wildcats finally got good pitching throughout the game on Sunday, starting with JC Cloney. The junior college transfer only recorded two outs on Friday against Tulane, but this time, he went six innings, allowing just one earned run.
"I knew after Friday's rough outing, quick outing that I needed to get back on the mound to get over it, and show them it was a fluke and it was just a bad day for me," Cloney said of his opportunity to bounce back so quickly. "We had a meeting last night and (Johnson) said I was starting, and I said 'good, let's do it."
"It was huge," Johnson added. "We're gonna need him to be consistent and I knew he would respond well."
When Cloney did get taken out in the seventh, Kevin Ginkel entered and got four big outs. Rio Gomez followed that up with an impressive five outs to close the game and record the win.
"Our pitching today was spectacular," Johnson said afterwards. "Rio Gomez really filled up the strike zone."
Arizona finishes the Tony Gwynn Classic with a 2-1 record, and an overall record of 4-3 in 2016. The Wildcats will head to Scottsdale to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday in an exhibition at Salt River Fields. Their next collegiate game will be the home opener Wednesday against a Cal State Fullerton team coming off a weekend sweep of Indiana.