Some really shoddy defense by Cal in the sixth and seventh innings at Hi Corbett on Friday night allowed the Arizona Wildcats to take the first game of a three-game set by a score of 10-3.
“I thought we hit the ball hard early in the game and didn’t get rewarded, and sometimes baseball rewards you just not when you think they should,” head coach Jay Johnson said after the game. “We snuck a few there and they didn’t make plays and we were able to take advantage of it.”
This is the first time Arizona has won seven consecutive conference games since 2007.
The Cats were trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but Cesar Salazar started the inning by reaching first on an error by the second baseman.
It was the only error charged to the Bears, but it was certainly not the only defensive miscue.
A Kyle Lewis single off the second baseman tied the game at three. Then Louis Boyd was able to reach first when the Cal pitcher missed the bag while covering on a grounder to the first baseman.
Arizona proceeded to take the lead on a passed ball and extended that lead thanks to a wild pitch and an Alfonso Rivas single to the shortstop.
More of the same happened in the seventh. Jared Oliva started the inning with a sharp double, but a walk, hit batter, and a couple seeing-eye singles pushed the Wildcat lead to five runs.
Rivas then grounded out to first, but with the force off, Cal Stevenson got into a rundown between first and second, allowing a second run to score on the play, making it a 10-3 ballgame.
JC Cloney gave up ten hits in 5 2⁄3 innings of work, which was his second straight appearance that he didn’t put up particularly great numbers, but he says he felt great.
“Today was probably the best I’ve felt all year,” said Cloney. “That’s why it was kind of disheartening to get taken out but it is what it is. I felt like I had good command of just about everything. I missed a couple spots up but I felt like I was making good pitches and they were getting barrels on good pitches.”
A lot of those hits came against Arizona’s defensive shifts, which kind of inflated Cal’s hit total.
This could have also been Cloney’s final start at Hi Corbett depending on how the postseason situation plays out.
“Not at all,” he responded when asked if that was on his mind. “Obviously we hope to host next week, but it’s in their hands, not ours.”
Michael Flynn took over with two down in the sixth and cruised his way to the end. He allowed just one hit and hit another batter in his 3 1⁄3 inning appearance.
Notable results from around the country
As Arizona continues its quest to host a Regional next weekend, here are some scores from the rest of the nation over the past couple of days that will have an impact:
- Cal State Fullerton def. Long Beach State 6-3 Thursday
- Oklahoma 0-2 at Big 12 Tourney
- Baylor 0-2 at Big 12 Tourney
- Virginia 1-1 at ACC Tourney
- Arkansas losing to Mississippi State on Thursday at SEC Tourney
- The entirety of the results in the AAC Tourney except Houston winning its first two games including one against UConn and UCF getting a win over USF
- Southern Miss losing a game at Conference USA Tourney
- Missouri State losing a game to Illinois State at Missouri Valley Tourney
- Mississippi State losing twice on Friday to Florida and Arkansas
- Virginia getting a win against Clemson at the ACC Tourney
- Florida State 2-0 in ACC Tourney w/ a win over likely National Seed Louisville
- Texas 2-0 at Big 12 Tourney
- West Virginia getting wins vs. Baylor and Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tourney
- UCLA beating Oregon on Thursday (3rd place in the Pac-12 would look better than fourth place)
- Arkansas beat Mississippi State on Friday
- Long Beach beat Fullerton 2-1 in ten innings on Friday
After Arizona’s game on Friday, they were 17th in the RPI, one behind Long Beach State and one in front of Texas, who has gone on a run in the Big 12 Tournament.
“I look at the RPI,” Cloney said. “I think we’re at 16-ish, so if we can take care of business tomorrow I feel like we’re going to be in a great position to be in that under-16 slot I guess you could say, but we gotta win tomorrow and let the committee decide on Sunday.”
Arizona wants to host, but it’s not the end-all, be-all.
“For us, we’re in the top 64,” Cloney added. “We don’t care if we go on the road or host, we just want to play in the postseason because once you get in anything can really happen. You saw what we did last year. For us, we would rather host just because we’re home and we know the ballpark, but I think if you were to ask anybody, we just want to be playing next Friday night.”
Game two of the three-game series will be played at 7 PM PT on Saturday night. Cameron Ming is scheduled to pitch for Arizona. He’ll square off with LHP Matt Ladrech.