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Arizona baseball recap: Utah completes series sweep of Wildcats

First home sweep in the Jay Johnson era

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs Coastal Carolina Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Utes continued their recent domination of the Arizona Wildcats on the diamond, completing a series sweep in Tucson on Saturday night. Utah took the series finale by a score of 4-2.

This is the first time Arizona has been swept at home under Jay Johnson. The last time the Wildcats went winless in a three-game series against a team at Hi Corbett was against Cal in April of 2015.

“First, I’ll give credit to the opponent — and it’s really due — starting with their pitching staff,” Johnson said after Saturday night’s loss. “They were really good, and winning baseball starts and ends there. They had that, and they played extremely good defense, and then the offense part, you can’t ignore that.”

“I’m gonna tip my hat to them and process it by going back to what we do, which is improvement on a daily basis,” Johnson continued. “I think the most disappointing thing is that we did not improve throughout the weekend.”

Arizona also hasn’t beaten Utah in their last eight meetings dating back to 2015.

All of Utah’s runs came in the first two innings. UA starter Rio Gomez had a rough go of it, allowing four of the five hitters he faced to reach base. The only guy that did not reach base gave himself up with a sacrifice bunt.

After three runs in the first, the Utes tacked on another run in the second with a two-out rally, an issue that plagued the Wildcats all weekend.

These were the only innings that Utah was able to get something going with two down, but that’s all they needed. The Utes were 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Wildcats were 1-for-8 in such situations, the lone hit coming in the ninth.

Arizona finally got on the board in the sixth. Mitchell Morimoto hit a one-out infield single to third base. Jared Oliva followed that with a single off of the pitcher’s glove to put runners on the corners for JJ Matijevic.

Matijevic would get into one, but flew out just shy of the warning track. This would score Morimoto from third though.

Oliva went on to steal second and advanced to third when the catcher threw the ball into center field. But Nick Quintana struck out on a breaking ball in the dirt, Arizona’s 6th K of the night.

Robby Medel also took the mound in the sixth inning, and would not cede for the rest of the night. He tossed four scoreless innings, scattering three hits and two walks along the way.

“Spectacular, he’s moving up the charts,” Johnson said of Medel’s performance, who also threw two scoreless innings on Thursday. “I think he just pitched with conviction, and I think the most telling thing to me was a few of his teammates noticing it the previous outings prior to tonight saying this guy’s gonna compete for us, and I was glad to see it.”

“I’m a frontrunner, and there’s no bigger fan of his than me.”

The Wildcats had a chance for another run in the seventh. Alfonso Rivas led the inning off with a double off the right field wall, but a couple fly outs and a nice leaping catch by Utah shortstop Ellis Kelly kept Rivas from crossing the plate.

“He’s game-changing defensively,” Johnson said of Kelly.

With Utah starting pitcher Josh Lapiana exceeding the 120 pitch mark in the ninth inning, Arizona needed to take some patient at bats. But it didn’t, even though they were able to plate the second and final run of the night in the final frame.

But the game ended with Ryan Haug popping off the first pitch he saw in that plate appearance.

“We swung at more bad pitches tonight than we have in a month and a half,” Johnson explained. “We’ll address that. I have some thoughts on where that came from and we’ll address that.”

“We got very out of character in this series, but particularly tonight.”


Arizona looks to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday when they host New Mexico State for a single midweek game. First pitch is scheduled for 6 PM PT.


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