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Arizona baseball recap: Oregon Ducks hand Wildcats first home loss of 2017

This was a marathon in all the wrong ways

For the first time all year, the Arizona Wildcats lost a game played at Hi Corbett Field.

On Thursday night, the Oregon Ducks came in to Tucson and won a long 8-4 decision. The game took four hours and 24 minutes.

“They just beat us,” Mitchell Morimoto said flatly afterwards.

“They took good at bats tonight,” Arizona head coach Jay Johnson added about Oregon. “They’re a much improved team from where they were last year.”

Arizona ace JC Cloney did not make the start as he is still recovering from a biceps injury, so redshirt freshman Randy Labaut had the honors of going up against David Peterson, one of the top pitchers in the country.

Peterson would win this battle, but it was closer than one would expect. UO’s ace did not allow an earned run over six innings, surrendering five hits and just his fifth walk of the year.

“Just location,” Morimoto said of what made Peterson so tough. “He spotted up really well, made good pitches, kept it down and made it hard on us. His ball has a lot of run on it too, so it was difficult to hit. He did a real nice job tonight.”

Oregon scored three runs in the top of the second off of Labaut. A triple by Glendale native Matt Dyer was followed up with an RBI single by catcher Tim Susnara to make the score 1-0.

Nine-hole hitter Morgan McCullough added to the Oregon lead with a two-out, two-run triple over Cal Stevenson’s head in right.

Arizona responded in the bottom half of the third. Morimoto reached on a catcher’s interference call, and advanced to third after the Oregon left fielder misjudged a liner by Alfonso Rivas.

Jared Oliva then put the Wildcats on the board with this RBI single.

JJ Matijevic was hit by a pitch in the hip to load the bases for Kyle Lewis.

Lewis drew the RBI walk, but immediately after, some drama happened at Hi Corbett. Peterson came straight to home plate from the mound, pointing at a fan sitting directly behind the action. The umpires came in and ejected the man.

It appears that the fan’s Blackberry lit up during the wind up. This is the biggest news of the night: people still own Blackberrys.

Peterson would then strike out Cesar Salazar to get out of the jam, preserving Oregon’s 3-2 lead.

In the fourth, Susnara reached second after singling and advancing on a sac bunt. Matijevic made a spectacular catch reaching into the Arizona dugout for out number two.

That brought up McCullough, who singled to left. Susnara rounded third and the throw home beat him by a good ten feet. However, Susnara — a catcher remember — unintentionally spiked Salazar at the plate.

“I didn’t really see it,” Morimoto said of that play. “I threw the ball and saw that he was going to be out so I kind of put my head down. But yeah I didn’t see it.”

Susnara knew right away and stayed by Salazar to make sure he was alright. Ryan Haug would replace Salazar the next inning.

“He got slid into his hand and it was an issue with his hand,” Johnson said of Salazar’s injury. “I don’t know anymore at this point. All I know is he couldn’t go back in the game.”

Salazar did have his right hand taped heavily after the game.

Morimoto would draw another catcher’s interference call in the fourth inning, this one erasing an inning-ending double play.

“I think it’s just a combination of me swinging late and the catcher reaching out a little bit,” Morimoto said about having two CIs on the day. “I mean those aren’t really good hacks, I just got kinda lucky there.”

Susnara argued this one to no avail, but Rivas grounded into another double play right back to Peterson to actually end the inning and not cause anymore Arizona damage.

Oregon added an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Oliva almost got to a soaring hit to deep center, but the ball got away for the Ducks’ third triple of the game.

This is when UO went to the bullpen. Cooper Stiles and his season opposing batting average of just .175 took over for Peterson.

So of course Arizona smacked him around.

Morimoto, Rivas, and Matijevic all picked up singles, the last one plating a run and chasing Stiles. Connor Zwetsch was called upon to get out of it for the Ducks, and he did just that with a strikeout of Nick Quintana (his third of the night), and a groundout by Kyle Lewis.

After Oregon scored two more in the eighth, Haug led off the bottom half with a double to right center. He moved up to third on a groundout and scored with a Matt Fraizer infield single.

The Ducks brought in freshman closer Kenyon Yovan to end that nonsense, picking up two nasty strikeouts to end the inning and keep it a two-run advantage.

Oregon tacked on two more runs in a drawn-out ninth inning, and Yovan sealed the deal in the bottom half.

These two teams square off again on Friday night at 7 PM PT. Oregon will throw RHP Matt Mercer, who is 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 2017. Arizona would not announce a starting pitcher.

Pac-12 Baseball Standings

Team Conference record Overall record
Team Conference record Overall record
Oregon State Beavers 27-3 46-4
Stanford Cardinal 19-9 38-14
UCLA Bruins 18-10 29-24
Arizona Wildcats 15-12 36-17
California Golden Bears 13-14 23-28
Washington Huskies 13-15 27-25
Utah Utes 12-15 24-24
Oregon Ducks 11-17 29-24
Washington State Cougars 10-18 24-27
Arizona State Sun Devils 8-19 23-29
USC Trojans 7-21 20-33