The Arizona Wildcats needed a confidence boost before heading to the Bay Area to take on Stanford this weekend, and they got it in the form of an 11-2 victory over the New Mexico State Aggies on Tuesday.
“It’s huge,” starting pitcher Cody Deason said afterwards about getting the win on Tuesday. “I mean when you can come in and set the tone like that, get the bats hot a little bit, and get the pitching going...everybody rallied up and we’re gonna figure stuff out.”
“We’re a great team, so I think we’ll figure it out going into this weekend and I think that really helped.”
“We checked in with each other after the game the other night, and these guys are great as far as competitiveness and all those types of things,” head coach Jay Johnson added. “Confidence can vary from time to time in a sport that’s built around failure, and they got it back. We had a great practice yesterday, a bunch of guys were here early today, and we’re gonna do two things: we’re going to stick together in tough times, and we’re going to go all in. We’re not going to save ourselves or any of those types of things.”
Deason put up four innings of one-hit baseball. He didn’t walk a guy and struck out five while tossing 50 pitches.
“Pitching,” Johnson said of his biggest takeaway from Tuesday night. “The game is easier when you pitch and play defense, and we did that tonight.”
“The fastball command,” Deason explained of what allowed him to have success against the Aggies. “I was able to change eye levels, go up in the zone, in and out, throw it low in the zone; it was just a really good night with the fastball. And then I was able to mix in a few breaking balls for strikes, so it was good.”
Since March 11th, Deason has only given up one earned run over 21 1⁄3 innings of work.
“I just really beared down and just looked at what I can change as a pitcher and what aspects I can get better at and hone in on those,” said Deason. “I really looked at those and I propelled myself to have a good month and keep going.”
“Yes,” he added about if this is the most confident he’s felt. “It was one of those struggles early in your life in your young baseball career, and I think that those struggles can propel you to do some pretty good stuff.”
Arizona opened the scoring in the second. JJ Matijevic led the inning off with a single, and advanced to second when the NMSU pitcher tried to pick him off. Nick Quintana then roped a double to center to score the first run of the night.
After the Wildcats loaded the bases with a walk and hit batter, Louis Boyd hit the first of what would be two sac flies on the night for him, giving Arizona a 2-0 lead.
UA tacked on two more runs two innings later. Quintana singled and advanced to second on another throwing error by the pitcher on a pick off play. Cameron Cannon would score him with a single to left.
Boyd’s second sac fly made it 4-0 through four innings.
The Wildcats scored singular runs in the fifth and sixth innings to push the lead to 6-0.
Tylor Megill — who had retired seven of the first eight batters he faced — ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, loading the bases with just one out.
He was able to work out of it though thanks to a timely strikeout and a grounder right back to him to end the threat.
The offense responded in the bottom half of the seventh like it had been scored against though. Cannon reached on an error, Boyd walked, and Cal Stevenson singled to load the bases for Alfonso Rivas.
Rivas grounded to first base, and the Aggies decided to try and turn two by getting Stevenson at second. Problem is, they threw the ball into left field, and two more runs scored for the Cats, making it an 8-0 ballgame.
That was NMSU’s sixth error of the game.
Matijevic would tack on an RBI single, which chased Aggie pitcher Matthew Perea.
Cat's make it 9-0 after this RBI single from JJ Matijevic! #BearDownhttps://t.co/TjPawHxHRf— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) April 26, 2017
Quintana welcomed new pitcher Alex Reyes with another RBI single, giving the Cats the double-digit advantage. That was his fourth hit of the night, which is the first time he’d done that since the UCLA series in mid-March. It’s also the 28th consecutive game that Quintana has reached base, which is two shy of the school’s all-time record by a freshman.
Seve Romo took over for Megill to start the eighth inning, and that’s when NMSU was able to put some runs on the board. Dan Hetzel knocked a two-run single to left to get the Aggies back within nine.
Landon Faulkner had the ninth inning and struck out a couple of pinch hitters, then got a fly out to end the game.
Arizona begins a three-game set at Stanford on Thursday night. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 6 PM PT, and it will be shown on Pac-12 Network.