The Arizona Wildcats closed out their 2016 schedule in the best way possible on Wednesday night...by honoring their seven seniors and picking up an 8-3 win over Abilene Christian.
It also gives the team their most wins since the 2012 National Championship year. The Wildcats are now 35-20 overall.
"They turned this thing around overnight, so all the credit to them," head coach Jay Johnson said after the game.
Arizona is now on a three-game winning streak heading into their final series of the year, which starts Friday night in Hawaii, and some guys are getting hot at the right time, most notably Bobby Dalbec.
The first run of the game came in typical Arizona fashion. Dalbec started the inning with a flare that dropped in front of the center fielder who was playing him deep for obvious reasons.
Two foul outs later, Dalbec stole second with a very awkward non-slide. Ten seconds after that, he was awarded third base on a balk. He then scored on a miscue by the catcher.
Dalbec would stay involved in the scoring in the third. A trio of singles by Cody Ramer, Zach Gibbons and Ryan Aguilar loaded the bases for the Arizona third baseman. He roped a double, scoring two, giving Arizona a 3-0 lead.
Aguilar would later score on a Cesar Salazar sac fly to left.
Abilene Christian would answer right back with three runs of their own. A walk, error, and intentional walk by Rio Gomez loaded the bases, which forced Jay Johnson to bring Cameron Ming out of the bullpen.
Ming struck out the first runner he faced, but on a full count to David Ruot, the ACU first baseman lined the pitch down the right field line, unloading the bases, scoring three unearned runs. Another Ming strikeout ended the inning.
It would remain a one-run Arizona lead until the bottom of the fifth. JJ Matijevic hit a one-out single to right. Once again, Dalbec smoked a double, this one to right-center, to give the Wildcats a two-run advantage.
Salazar followed that up with with his second triple of the season -- a rope down the right field line -- to make it a 6-3 game, and also chase ACU starting pitcher Garrett deMeyere from the game.
In addition to the manufacturing of a run in the second, we got one last live look at a two-run squeeze play. With Louis Boyd on third and Ramer on second, Aguilar laid down a bunt to the first base side of the mound. The pitcher went to first with it while Boyd was scoring, and Ramer followed right behind, putting the Wildcats up 8-3.
The next half inning, Ramer made quite possibly the best defensive play of the year for the Wildcats.
this is why Ramer should be on TV tonight. Also, keep an eye on Ming's reaction lol: https://t.co/7ERppMj4aY— AZ Desert Swarm (@azdesertswarm) May 26, 2016
Ming's reaction kills me.
"I was pretty amazed that he was even able to get to that ball," Ming explained. "I thought for sure off the bat it was going to be a hit. That one put me in a little bit of a state of shock."
"I was kind of taken aback," coach Johnson said after the game of the play. "It kind of looked like Coach Johnson back in the day making plays like that....I'm just kidding."
"Everybody's asking me but no I didn't," Ramer said if he saw Ming's reaction. "I hope they got a video or something."
Cody Deason struck out the only three batters he faced in the 8th. Alfonso Rivas retired the only three batters he faced in the 9th.
Arizona is in action again on Friday night when they travel to Honolulu to play the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in a three-game series. Friday's game is scheduled to start at 9:35 PM PT. The game will not be streamed anywhere. It's only on TV in Hawaii.
The team leaves Tucson around 4 A.M. on Thursday, and will land in Hawaii about noon local.
"They'll have time to rest," Johnson explained. "We'll get out there, and I think it will be great for our players."
"Me and a couple guys are gonna spend the night in the clubhouse so we're there on time," Ming joked. "Nobody sleeping through alarm clocks so it'll be fun."
"I might want to pull an all-nighter, drink three red bulls and sleep on the plane," Ramer added. "That's a plane flight I don't want to miss, so I might be here around 3 A.M."