Arizona scored three runs in the eighth and another in the ninth on a walk-off RBI single by Alfonso Rivas to complete a 6-5 comeback victory over the No. 4 Oregon State Beavers on Sunday.
The Wildcats (19-11, 4-5 Pac-12) win the three-game series, and get a big boost to their RPI which was 71 entering Sunday’s game.
Arizona trailed 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but the first three batters reached via two walks and a hit by pitch.
A wild pitch scored one of them, then Nick Quintana singled to left to pull the Wildcats within one. An RBI groundout by Jacob Blas tied the game (though it might have put Arizona ahead if not for a diving stop by OSU shortstop Cadyn Grenier).
Tylor Megill (1-2) worked a scoreless top of the ninth, and Matt Frazier singled to shortstop to begin the bottom half of the inning and advanced to second on a throwing error.
The next batter, Ryan Haug, put down a sacrifice bunt, but with no one covering second, Fraizer was able stay half way between second and third.
This kept OSU pitcher Jake Mulholland from throwing to first, allowing everyone to be safe. Cameron Cannon was intentionally walked to load the bases before Rivas came to the plate. He smacked a fly ball over the head of the drawn-in left-fielder to win the game.
It’s the Wildcats’ second win in a row, and their ninth in their last 11 games, significantly improving their postseason chances.
Rivas was dog-piled by his teammates near second base.
Ninth-inning hero Alfonso Rivas III:— Michael Lev (@MichaelJLev) April 9, 2018
"As a little kid, you dream of getting that walk-off hit. You want that cooler on you. All those emotions are kicking in. It’s an awesome feeling. I wish it for every single one of us."
Before the eighth inning comeback, the Wildcats struck first with a Quintana two-run homer in the first inning. Quintana had six hits and six RBIs with two home runs in the series. He had three RBI in the finale Sunday afternoon.
Arizona threatened to score again in the third inning but catcher Cesar Salazar’s missed suicide squeeze bunt got center fielder Cal Stevenson tagged out at home. Salazar lined out to first to end the inning.
Oregon State’s scoring came via two runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and one run in the seventh.
The game got intense in the bottom of the seventh. OSU freshman pitcher Kevin Abel finished the inning with a strikeout and proceeded to stare down the Arizona dugout, which was not happy.
Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman made sure to corral Abel and prevent things from escalating but in the eighth inning, Arizona’s Cal Stevenson exchanged words with Abel after scoring UA’s third run.
Arizona took an unusual approach with its pitching. Starter Zach Stone was removed after three innings and Arizona used eight pitchers in total. In one case, pitcher Juan Aguilera pitched to two batters and was removed in an 0-2 count.
Looking ahead, Arizona plays Tuesday at GCU, and next weekend at USC. Its next home game is April 17 against BYU.