C batteries have always been a bit underrated. AAs get too much glory.
The C battery for the Arizona Wildcats did everything it could to keep UA ticking back towards a .500 record in conference play on Saturday. Cameron Ming and Cesar Salazar stole the show as Arizona beat the Washington Huskies by a score of 3-1 on Saturday night.
Arizona clinches the series, and improves to 11-12 in conference play. UW is now 10-10.
Ming threw a complete game five-hitter, the first complete game by an Arizona pitcher this year. It took Cameron 100 pitches to get through it.
“I was really tired in the 8th and 9th and Coach (Dave) Lawn kept telling me to use my legs,” Ming said of his fatigue level. “He knew I was tired. I really started to let my legs take over because my arm was tired.”
However, the first inning may have been the biggest struggle.
UW started the game with two hits, but a 6-4-3 twin killing ended that threat in a hurry.
“It was a good momentum shift for our team,” explained Ming of that moment. “I got hit around a little bit and left some balls over the plate, so I kind of stepped off the mound and made an adjustment in my own head and really buckled down on location after that.”
“It was huge because it totally killed their momentum,” added Salazar. “Two quick hits and then that double play getting out of the inning killed their whole momentum and probably brought them down so it was huge for us.”
“Poise and maturity,” head coach Jay Johnson said about Ming’s demeanor in that spot. “Those are two bullets right off the bat. Didn’t get off to a great start, but composed himself, got a double play.”
After that, Ming cruised, retiring 14 straight before giving up a trio of hits in the sixth.
“Just a great performance by a mature pitcher,” Johnson added. “It’s a whole lot of confidence and a whole lot of purpose in every pitch he throws.”
A lot of this has to do with the relationship between Ming and Salazar.
“I just have a good chemistry with Salazar,” Ming said of throwing to Cesar. “He knows what works with me and so he shakes Coach Lawn’s signs sometimes. He knows my stuff really well — maybe better than me — but yeah we work together really well and it’s fun.”
“I feel me and Cameron are really close and we always talk about pitching,” Salazar expanded. “I know how his stuff and I know he has his best stuff as soon as he throws his first pitch.”
“Luckily they give me the freedom to call my own pitches when I see that’s the pitch we can get the guy out,” Salazar added about shaking off Lawn. “So I shook him on a couple and it worked out.”
Salazar hit a two-run home run to put the Cats up 2-0 in the fourth, which was an absolute moonshot to right despite the gusting Tucson wind.
Cesar Salazar gives the Cats a 2-0 lead with this moonshot!! #BearDownhttps://t.co/IoFPv2JbFl— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) May 7, 2017
“As soon as I saw it I was like ‘Oh, it might have a chance,” Salazar recounted. “Then when I saw the right fielder turn around I knew it was gone.”
Washington responded with a run in the sixth, but probably should have gotten more.
After already plating a run on a sac fly, the Huskies had a runner on first and two out with MJ Hubbs at the plate. He laced a single to left. Matt Fraizer had trouble handling it, allowing AJ Graffanino to reach third.
However, Graffanino went well past third as he rounded the bag, and the relay throw got in behind him, catching him in a rundown.
Hubbs moved up to third as the rundown played out, and Salazar was able to tag Graffanino while he retreated to third, ending the Huskies’ threat.
Arizona gets out of a jam in the 6th with the 'ol 7-6-5-2!!https://t.co/DiPjY3uKDr— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) May 7, 2017
Washington - 1
Arizona - 2
“Yeah, we saw it all tonight,” Ming joked about getting the full Salazar experience. “The only thing I think we didn’t see was a ball in the dirt and getting the guy out at second like he’s done before for me. But yeah, we saw Sally in full tonight.”
That ‘Sally in full’ included taking a backswing off the side of the head for the second consecutive night.
“That’s really weird and I’m getting sick and tired of that,” Salazar said about that phenomenon. “But it’s just part of the game I guess. Part of the job. Love it.”
Arizona pushed the lead back to two right away. With Nick Quintana on third base, the ol’ Arizona safety squeeze play was called for Kyle Lewis, and he executed it perfectly.
SQUEEZE!! Kyle Lewis lays down a great bunt to score Quintana! 3-1 Arizona! https://t.co/W019qiOAFH— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) May 7, 2017
The Wildcats go for the sweep on Sunday at Noon PT. UW is scheduled to start Joe DeMers and Arizona will presumably start Cody Deason, though he was throwing in the bullpen over the final two innings on Saturday.