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Benches clear as Arizona baseball sweeps doubleheader against UMass Lowell

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Jason Bartel

Arizona baseball defeated the UMass Lowell River Hawks 19-4 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Earlier in the day, the Wildcats routed the River Hawks, 18-4.

Unlike the first two matchups of the series, Arizona didn’t jump out to an early lead, as UMass Lowell actually struck first in the contest. The River Hawks took a two-run lead in the top of the first inning, after Cam Climo took freshman Bryce Collins deep to left field.

Making his first career start for the Wildcats, Collins responded well to surrendering the early home run and quickly settled into a groove. He totaled six strikeouts in his outing and didn’t give up another run before being removed in the fifth inning. Collins surrendered four hits, four walks and two earned runs on 81 pitches.

“If you’re a baseball person and you watch Bryce’s outing you can see the stuff,” said UA head coach Jay Johnson. “The fastball explodes on you and the curveball is great. He’s got the making of a true ace, and the fact that he was able to respond to giving up the first inning home run was the best part about it.”

Collins was replaced by junior Vince Vannelle, who threw three innings of scoreless baseball until being relieved by fellow junior Nate Brown to start the eighth inning. The one run that UMass Lowell did score off Vannelle was charged to Collins who left the game with two runners on base.

After falling behind early on, the Wildcats were able to immediately chip away at the River Hawks’ lead, when Preseason All-American Nick Quintana doubled in Matt Fraizer in the bottom of the first inning to cut the deficit to 2-1.

That remained the score until Arizona jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Freshman Austin Wells doubled to score Cameron Cannon and Matt Dyer promptly singled in two more runs to give the Wildcats their first lead of the night.

The next inning was when things really got interesting.

After a scoreless top half, freshman Ryan Holgate smashed a three-run homer to center field in the bottom of the fourth to bring the score to 7-2.

The next batter, Quintana, was then forced to duck out of the way of the very next pitch - a fastball that was thrown directly at his head. Quintana didn’t take well to being thrown at and took a couple of steps toward the pitcher’s mound while shouting out a few choice words at UMass Lowell starter Connor Metelski, prompting both dugouts to clear and Metelski to be ejected from the game.

“Ryan hit a home run, their pitcher didn’t like it and he threw at Nick,” Johnson said, “which is not okay. It’s not okay to throw at anyone intentionally in college baseball in my opinion.”

It took nearly 10 minutes for normalcy to resume, as tensions were high on both sides of the diamond. Johnson tried his hardest to keep his team cool after they rushed out of the dugout to defend Quintana, but struggled to keep the peace as his squad were eager to back up one of their captains.

“I’m proud of our players for defending the honor and safety of one of their teammates when it was challenged like that,” Johnson said, “but we can’t get in a fight.”

After the madness of the fourth, the River Hawks were able to get a run back in the top of fifth inning, but Arizona put the game out of reach when it scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to bring the lead to 12-3.

Cannon and Wells continued their scintillating starts to the season, as they each picked up an RBI, before Dante Williams cleared the loaded bases with a triple.

Arizona wouldn’t relent despite the big lead, as the Wildcats tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the seventh to bring it to 16-3. Wells and Blake Paugh drew walks with the bases loaded before Dayton Dooney knocked in a couple more with a single through the left side of the infield.

They kept it going in the bottom of the eighth as well, getting three more runs to bring the score up to 19-3. The Wildcats added one on a fielder’s choice, before freshman Ryan Archibald hit a mammoth pinch hit two-run home run well over the Terry Francona Hitting Center in right field. It was his first at-bat as a Wildcat.

The River Hawks got one back off of Brown in the top of the ninth, before the game mercifully ended.

Vannelle got the win out of the pen and the two freshman Holgate and Wells led the way offensively with three RBIs each. Quintana and Cannon went 1-4 and 2-3 respectively with an RBI apiece.

Arizona will look to sweep the series against UMass Lowell Sunday at 1 p.m. MST.

Head coach Jay Johnson talks about Arizona Baseball’s wins vs. UMass Lowell. Benches cleared in the second game of the doubleheader.

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, February 16, 2019