The Arizona Wildcats were one out away from coming up with a huge series sweep of the Stanford Cardinal. The way things are playing out, Arizona and Stanford will both be vying for one of the final at-large bids in this year's NCAA Tournament, and having a head-to-head sweep would have been a huge selling point.
But the Cardinal capped off a five-run, two-inning rally with an inside-the-park home run off Cody Moffett on Sunday to salvage one of the three games. Arizona won each of the first two games by a score of 4-1, thanks to dominant outings from Nathan Bannister and Cameron Ming.
Here's the good and not-so-good from the weekend:
1. Starting pitching in innings 1-7
I'm not just gonna waste each spot with each starting pitcher, so they'll combine for this one position. Stanford only managed to score one total run in the first seven innings of games. Bannister and Ming took shutouts that far, while Bobby Dalbec gave up a run in the fourth inning on Sunday. That was it for the Cardinal in the first seven innings of games.
"Very proud of those guys," head coach Jay Johnson said after Sunday's game. "I feel good about how we'll match up."
2. Ryan Aguilar
Aguilar was one of the few position players that had a key contribution in each game. In the first game, he saw Austin Barr miss first base on a double in the eighth, calling for the ball, and ending the inning with the appeal play. Saturday, he went 3-for-4 at the plate, scoring the final run of the game. Then in the finale, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, scored the team's fourth run, and drove in the Wildcats' final run of the weekend in the 7th.
Of the team's 23 hits this weekend, Aguilar had five of them. He also made a few nice defensive plays at first base. Aguilar was easily the best position player throughout the series.
3. Cody Ramer
His defense was the catalyst for Saturday's win, but Arizona's leadoff guy also happened to be one of two players to record a hit in each of the three contests (Zach Gibbons was the other).
Ramer impressed with his glove, but even though he was only 3-for-14, he scored three runs. and drove in another. Him and Aguilar were the big reasons why Arizona was in a position to win all three games on the non-pitching side of things.
1. Pitching in innings 8 and 9
Sunday was by far the worst of this particular case, but all three games had some really bad pitching in the final two innings. Bannister gave up a long double that was erased by an appeal to first in the eighth, and then gave up three hits and a run in the ninth after retiring 20 straight batters.
Alfonso Rivas pitched the final two innings Saturday, and though he retired the side in the eighth, a walk and a double allowed the Cardinal to score their only run of that particular night with two down in the ninth.
Then Sunday happened. Dalbec started the eighth with walk, HBP, single. An error by Kyle Lewis at third base allowed the third run of the inning to score, bringing Stanford within one. Then the two-run inside-the-park home run off of Moffett gave the Cardinal five runs over the final two frames.
So to recap: Innings 1-7 saw one Stanford run scored....Innings 8&9 saw seven Stanford runs scored.
2. Jared Oliva
Plenty of guys struggled at the plate. Oliva was one of them. He went 0-for-10, and stranded four runners on base. His season batting average is now .241, which is only better than Justin Behnke and Dalbec among the regulars in Arizona's lineup.
3. Louis Boyd
Speaking of bad batting averages, Boyd is now 2-for-37 in Pac-12 play after a 1-for-10 weekend against the Cardinal. He has been the better defensive option at shortstop when Ramer plays second over JJ Matijevic, but his .949 fielding percentage is actually 30 points lower than the team average. Not a great run here for a guy who was such a big part of the early season success.
Arizona returns to the field on Wednesday, as they host New Mexico State for a single game at 6 PM PT. Then the Wildcats travel to Berkeley to take on Cal, who is coming off a series loss at ASU. The Bears are still 9-6 in conference play, which is tied with Washington for most Pac-12 wins to this point.