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Arizona baseball drops heartbreaker to New Mexico

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arizona-baseball-recruiting-college-wildcats-2020-alabama-johnson-vainer-scott-bingham Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Playing in the first of a 13-game homestand, Arizona baseball was defeated in dramatic fashion by the New Mexico Lobos, 5-4, on Wednesday night at Hi Corbett Field.

The Lobos scored three two-out runs in the top of the ninth inning to drop the Wildcats to 6-3 on the season.

With the bases loaded and Arizona up 4-3, left fielder Donta Williams dropped what would have been a spectacular game-winning catch, when he chased a high fly ball well into foul territory and climbed over the wall to initially make the play, before the ball popped out of his mitt as he fell back to the ground.

The very next pitch was ripped up the middle to plate two runs and give New Mexico a 5-4 lead.

“I feel like I let the team down,” Williams said of the play. “But baseball is a game of failures and we talk about that all the time. It’s all about moving on and focusing on the next pitch and the next game.”

The Wildcats went down quietly at the plate in the bottom of the ninth to seal the defeat.

Freshman righty Quinn Flanagan got his second start of the year on the mound for Arizona, but only lasted 3.1 innings before he was replaced by freshman and Tucson native George Arias Jr.

Flanagan, who is still easing back after a delayed return from Tommy John surgery, allowed one run on one hit, two walks and two strikeouts in the outing.

New Mexico was able to grab an early one-run lead in the top of the third, but was unable to build on it before the Wildcats evened things up.

After Arias cruised through the rest of the fourth and then the fifth inning, Arizona was able to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, when sophomore Tate Soderstrom drove in Williams with his ninth RBI of the young season to tie the game at 1-1.

When New Mexico immediately scored another run in the top of the sixth inning, it looked like they might be able to stem the tide, but a three-run bottom of the sixth from the Wildcats saw Arizona jump on top.

Arizona loaded the bases before a wild pitch allowed the Wildcats to tie the score at 2-2. Williams then singled in two runs to bring the score to 4-2, UA’s first lead of the night.

It didn’t hold up.

“We just didn’t get good pitching (in the top of the ninth),” said UA coach Jay Johnson. “We had four guys in the inning who gave up five hits. You have to credit New Meixco, though. The team that deserves to win typically wins. They had 11 hits and we had six. The best team typically wins and there is no doubt that was New Mexico tonight.”

Andrew Nardi, who came in and got one out in the ninth inning, ended up taking the loss, though it was Preston Price who served up the deciding two-run single.

Nick Quintana and Cameron Cannon went 1-4 and 0-4 respectively, while Williams went 1-3 at the plate with two RBI and Soderstrom went 1-4 with an RBI as well.

Arizona will be back in action on Friday at Hi Corbett when they look to get back in the win column against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

First pitch of the three-game series is slated for 6 p.m. MST.

Postgame interviews

Here is Arizona baseball head coach Jay Johnson after tonight’s heartbreaking 5-4 loss to New Mexico. The Wildcats led 4-2 heading into the top of the ninth inning, before the Lobos scored three runs in the frame to steal the victory at Hi Corbett.

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Wednesday, February 27, 2019