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Arizona baseball recap: Wildcats take series with 7-3 victory over WSU

A nice morning affair.

Bobby Dalbec pitches at Hi Corbett
Bobby Dalbec pitches at Hi Corbett
Jason Bartel

It was breakfast with the Wildcats on Sunday, and a series win before lunch.

The Arizona Wildcats and Washington State Cougars moved up their series finale to 10 AM on Sunday because of bad weather rolling into town.

They didn't totally avoid the rain, but it held off enough. Arizona took the rubber match by a score of 7-3 on a breezy morning in the Old Pueblo.

"In travel ball you play at 9, go to Burger King and get a Whopper," Jay Johnson joked. "So I thought they did a nice job putting yesterday behind them, which was important."

Bobby Dalbec got the start on the mound, and held the Cougars to just six hits over 7 2/3 innings. The junior righty struck out seven and allowed two earned runs.

"I just needed to settle in after the first couple innings," Dalbec said of his performance.

He got just enough run support early as well to allow him to control the game.

The Wildcats (20-12, 5-7 Pac-12) were able to score three of their runs in the second inning after falling behind 2-0, despite an odd baserunning decision by Dalbec. He was the second-consecutive single to start the frame. JJ Matijevic hit a grounder to second, and Dalbec ran right into the tag, starting a double play.

This moved Ryan Aguilar to third for Kyle Lewis. Lewis would drop in a double to left, making the score 2-1 WSU.

Ryan Haug followed that up with an RBI double of his own down the left field line, and went to third as the Cougar left fielder mishandled the ball in the corner.

A wild pitch allowed Haug to score and give Arizona the lead after two innings.

Arizona had a chance at another big inning in the third, but Jared Oliva missed a sign and was thrown out trying to steal third for the first out of the inning.

One run still scored in the inning off a Zach Gibbons single to left, making it 4-2.

WSU (10-19, 3-9 Pac-12) made it a one-run game in the fourth after a fielding error by Louis Boyd at third.

The Wildcats had a chance for another big inning in the 7th, loading the bases with no outs. Cody Ramer drove in one run to make the score 5-3.

But Oliva hit into a double play, which made the score 6-3, and also ended the threat of being able to blow the game open.

In the top of the 8th, Washington State had a chance to trim the deficit or even take the lead, loading the bases against Dalbec. Jay Johnson went to Kevin Ginkel out of the bullpen, and he induced a grounder to second to end the inning and keep the lead at three.

Ginkel would get the final four outs of the game, earning his first career save.

It seems that he'll be taking on the closer role moving forward, with Dalbec moving into the weekend rotation.

"He's doing good," Dalbec said of his teammate. "He just needs to get ahead in the count a little earlier on."

"Ginkel, man, dude's got some stuff," Haug added. "He's been competing and working on a lot of stuff. The biggest thing is just locating that ball down in the zone and flat-out competing."

"He goes up there and he has a lot of composure," continued Haug. "I went out there today and talked to him and he's like I'm not coming out of this game. I'm getting this done."

"His development is allowing us to put Bobby in the rotation," Johnson tacked on about Ginkel. "I was really proud of him settling in right there getting the double play ball, and getting out of the bases loaded deal in the eighth."

"That's a huge deal for our team and a huge development. He's going to pitch real important innings at the end."

A prototypical squeeze play in the 8th by Lewis drove in the seventh and final Arizona run of the day.

The Wildcats are back in action on Tuesday night, as they travel to Tempe for a single-game, non-conference bout with ASU. First pitch is scheduled for 7 PM PT, and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.