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Arizona baseball recap: Wildcats continue to sputter in 4-2 loss to Oregon

Where has all the offense gone?

Jason Bartel

There's never a good time for a three-game losing streak, but the Arizona Wildcats have picked the worst of times to have one.

Saturday afternoon was another instance of no offensive output, resulting in a 4-2 loss to the Oregon Ducks, sealing the series fate for both teams.

The Cats are now 15-14 in conference, and are in danger of finishing the Pac-12 season .500 if they are to lose Sunday afternoon's contest against these very same Ducks.

Saturday's game was a tale of two-run bursts from each side.

Oregon executed a safety squeeze in the second off of JC Cloney to score the game's first run.

Cloney, who was starting in his regular Saturday spot, is the second left-handed starter Jay Johnson has elected to start this weekend over Arizona's best pitcher, right-hander Nathan Bannister. The pitching hasn't been the issue, but it is a curious move, even though Oregon's lineup is predominantly left-handed hitters.

The Ducks added a second run in the fifth inning, though it was unearned. A throwing error by Louis Boyd allowed the leadoff hitter Kyle Kasser to reach base. He would eventually score on a Jake Bennett single through the left side.

At that point, the Wildcats had failed to get a baserunner against Oregon starter David Peterson.

Cesar Salazar changed that in the sixth inning, leading off with a single through the right side. Boyd showed bunt, but ended up slashing a hit past the third baseman. A Justin Behnke sac bunt put both runners in scoring position for the top of Arizona's lineup.

Cody Ramer hit a sac fly down the left field line to bring in Salazar and make the score 2-1. Oregon LF Nick Catalano cramped up after the play, but remained in the game until being pinch run for in the seventh.

In typical Zach Gibbons fashion, he hit a two-out, RBI single up the middle. Oregon attempted to get Boyd at home, but the throw went off his helmet, tying the game at two.

The score would remain that way through the seventh inning stretch, though it was a very eventful scoreless couple of at bats.

A leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth followed by a sac bunt would be the end of Cloney's night, as Johnson elected to put DH Bobby Dalbec on the mound.

An infield single to third base put runners on the corners for Kasser.

Oregon put on the safety squeeze, but Arizona sniffed it out, and Ryan  Aguilar was able to gun the lead runner down at third to keep the game tied.

Oregon would answer right back with its own defensive gem.

Boyd singled to center with runners on first and second and two out. Johnson sent Lewis home, but with the outfield playing shallow, the Ducks got him at the plate by four steps.

After applying that tag, Susnara made Arizona pay in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on the corners, Oregon's catcher roped one over Gibbons' head in right, driving in both runners as Arizona's relay fundamentals collapsed.

That made the game 4-2, all Oregon would need on the evening.

The Cats had a chance in the 8th. Ramer and Gibbons were both able to get into scoring position with just one out. But Aguilar popped up to third base, and Dalbec struck out looking against Stephen Nogosek to end the threat.

Of note, Rio Gomez struck out the side in the 8th after coming on in relief to get the final out of the seventh.

Over the previous two games, the Wildcats had gone a combined 0-for-23 with runners on base. In this game, they were 3-of-8 in those situations.

Arizona will look to salvage a game in this series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for noon PT on Pac-12 Networks. You'd have to think the Wildcats will throw Nathan Bannister to try and finish 16-14 in conference.