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NCAA Baseball Tournament results: Arizona uses long ball to down Sam Houston State 7-3

Three home runs propel Arizona into the Lafayette Regional winner's bracket

Ryan Aguilar hit a home run in Arizona's Regional-opening win over Sam Houston State
Ryan Aguilar hit a home run in Arizona's Regional-opening win over Sam Houston State
Jason Bartel

The game started five hours later than expected, but that just allowed the Arizona Wildcats bats to rest up a little more after this long week.

The Wildcats opened NCAA Tournament play against the Sam Houston State Bearkats on Friday with a dominating 7-3 win, advancing in the winner's bracket of the Lafayette Regional.

Arizona ace Nathan Bannister was matched up against Sam Houston State ace Heath Donica in this one, and the two did not disappoint early.

Through the first three and a half innings, the the game was scoreless.

Donica, who threw 186 pitches in two games in last week's Southland Conference Tournament started showing signs of fatigue in the bottom of the fourth.

Zach Gibbons and Alfonso Rivas started the inning with singles, putting runners on the corners for Ryan Aguilar.

But it didn't matter where the runners were. On a 2-1 count, Aguilar got a hold of a Donica mistake, sending the ball over the right-center field fence, giving Arizona a 3-0 lead.

That score wouldn't hold for long. JJ Matijevic came right up and smoked one over the right field wall, making it back-to-back jacks for the Cats and a 4-0 game.

It would remain that way for a couple innings. Then Bobby Dalbec kept up his hot ways.

The highly-touted junior hit another home run out to right field in the sixth, making it the first time all year that Arizona hit three home runs in a game. Bearkat pitching continued to struggle in the sixth. Cesar Salazar followed Dalbec with a single, and was brought all the way around on a Jared Oliva triple.

Arizona made the score 7-0 on a Louis Boyd bunt single to second base that allowed Oliva to score.

Bannister was his usual dominant self in this one. He needed 96 pitches to record 21 outs, and only allowed four hits and three walks in those seven innings.

Rio Gomez took over on the mound in the 8th. With Pedro Gomez getting tons of airtime on ESPN, the younger Gomez gave up Arizona's first run of the postseason in the 8th. It came on a Lance Miles single that scored Riley McKnight.

Gomez continued to struggle in the 9th. It started with a Dalbec throwing error, but Andrew Fregia eventually smacked a two-run double to make the score 7-3. This forced Jay Johnson to move Dalbec from third to the mound to finish out the game.

Dalbec would do just that, giving Arizona the 7-3 win.

This game could have been even more of a blowout for the Cats with a C.

Cody Ramer led the game off with a hit by pitch. He moved to second on a Rivas groundout to second. Ramer then tried to score on an Aguilar single to second base, but was thrown out by a good amount after hesitating around third.

Then in the third, Boyd got to second base with just one out in the inning and the top of the lineup coming up. However, Boyd was thrown out while trying to advance to third on a ball that got away from the SHSU catcher.

Every Arizona starter recorded a hit in the game, with the Wildcats tallying 13 total against the Bearkats pitchers. Arizona was also 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position and 6-of-12 with two outs in the inning.

On Saturday, Arizona will face the winner of the Louisiana-Lafayette/Princeton game. The Ragin' Cajuns and Tigers started their game 55 minutes after the end of the Wildcat victory. Arizona should be playing at 5 PM PT on Saturday if the weather holds.