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Arizona baseball recap: Wildcats fall to Utah Utes 7-3 on Friday

The Utes clinch the weekend series

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs UC Santa Barbara Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Through five innings on Friday night, the Arizona Wildcats and Utah Utes played to a scoreless tie.

But Utah would win the final four innings by a score of 7-3, taking their seventh consecutive game over Arizona dating back to 2015, and clinching this weekend’s series. It’s the first home series that the Wildcats have lost this year.

“Other than Oregon State, the league’s a dumpster fire in terms of the standings,” Arizona head coach Jay Johnson said afterwards. “There’s no difference between second place and ninth place, and I’ll make an argument that’s the best team that we’ve played — very close to Oregon State — this year. That just tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the play.”

The teams would exchange run-scoring singles in the sixth, but the seventh is when things started to get moving, or really slowed down depending on how you look at it.

“It was a quick like six innings, and then from there it took about three hours,” Cameron Ming joked after the game.

“It’s a lot harder for me to watch because I lose control and I like having control,” Ming added about having to watch the end of the game from the dugout. “So I freak out after I get taken out because I can’t pitch anymore which is frustrating. But yeah, it’s different. I just don’t like having control at the end of the game, but it was really fun to start again.”

Just about everyone lost control of the game after Ming was removed.

With the bases loaded and just one out, Arizona sophomore RHP Cody Deason drew a sharp liner to second, which Cameron Cannon turned into an inning-ending double play to keep the score tied up at one.

Then in the ensuing Arizona at bat, Louis Boyd came up with the big boy double to bring in Cesar Salazar to put the Wildcats in front for the first time of the night.

That lead would be short-lived however. After giving up a one-out double, Deason was replaced by Tylor Megill. Utah would draw a hit by pitch, then pick up two consecutive RBI singles to retake the one-run lead.

However, a strikeout and a spectacular play by Cannon would keep the Utes’ lead at 3-2.

With Deason still on the mound in the top of the ninth, the righty was called for a balk when throwing over to first base. Johnson came out to argue the call, and while turning around to go back to the dugout, he was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Jeff Macias.

“That he didn’t gain any ground towards first base,” Johnson said of the explanation he got about the balk call. “I didn’t think it was a balk and there was a lot happening. I disagreed with the hit by pitch — the ball didn’t change trajectory — it was a high velocity pitch, Salazar caught it, and the guy didn’t move out of the box like he had gotten hit. So I thought three things added up to it.”

That runner would then move to third on a sac bunt and score on an RBI single up the middle to give Utah a 4-2 lead.

Pitching coach Dave Lawn then came out to bring Alfonso Rivas in the game.

Rivas only retired one of the three batters he faced, loading the bases for Luke Soroko.

A two-run single and a wild pitch later, Utah was up 7-2.

Rivas would drive home a run on a groundball to first base in the bottom of the ninth to score Arizona’s third and final run of the game.

Ming, who got the start in the second game of the series instead of JC Cloney, had his best outing of his junior season. The lefty from Phoenix went 6+ innings, scattering four hits and two walks along the way.

“I thought he was outstanding,” Johnson said of Ming’s performance. “I thought that was exactly what our team needed.”

Ming had only thrown 67 pitches after walking the first batter of the seventh when he was taken out of the game, but he didn’t have any issue with that.

“Quite honestly, I’m still not built up to go five-plus innings since I’ve only been going two or three max with my closing role,” Ming said. “So my legs get fatigued even though I run and lift a lot. It’s just kind of a matter of pitching more and getting built up pitching-wise because you use different muscles. My legs were kinda gassed and the ball was kinda going everywhere. It was a smart move for Coach Johnson to pull me.”

Even with the fatigue, Ming went back out to the bullpen during the bottom of the sixth because it was such a long inning for the Arizona offense despite only scoring one run.

“I could feel myself starting to get tight, and I knew I was really fatigued, and I didn’t want anything to lock up,” said Ming. “So I got down there and kept throwing just to make sure I would stay loose.”

The decision to throw Ming on Friday night was made after Thursday night’s game.

“Last night (Johnson) texted me and asked ‘Do you want to start tomorrow?’ and I said ‘Let’s do it, I’ll give you everything I’ve got’,” Ming explained. “So I knew a night in advance which was abnormal but nice. So I got myself ready, had a nice relaxing day today, took it easy.”

Arizona and Utah will conclude their three-game series on Saturday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 6 PM PT and the game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

Cloney won’t pitch for the Wildcats on Saturday.

“I just didn’t feel like he was ready to do it based on the week,” explained Johnson. “He did a great job in his preparation. I don’t think it’s a long-term thing. I feel like this was necessary in terms of some of the treatment we’ve done and where he’s at right now. It was a tough decision but in his best interest and in the long-term interest of our team, it was the only decision to make.”

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