It was not the best start to Pac-12 play for the Arizona Wildcats, and they can place the blame firmly on their pitching staff for Friday night’s 21-10 home loss to the Utah Utes at Hi Corbett Field.
Utah’s high-powered offense built a 15-2 lead after four innings before Arizona (10-7, 0-1) tried to make the game respectable. A seven-run seventh inning provided most of the Wildcats’ scoring.
Arizona starter Avery Weems allowed six runs in just two-plus innings of work, obliterating what had been a 1.86 ERA entering the game.
Weems’ struggles began in the first inning when, with a man on and one out he allowed three consecutive baserunners as Utah went up 3-0. After being pulled in the third, reliever George Arias Jr. failed to stem the bleeding as the Utes led 10-2 after the frame.
Arizona only used four pitchers, though each allowed at least three runs. Coach Jay Johnson said, had the Wildcats not scored seven times in the seventh, that “two position players would have pitched the eighth and ninth inning” instead of reliever Cameron Haskell.
The seven-run seventh enabled Arizona to reach double-digits in runs for the eighth time this season, registering 14 hits along with six walks. Five players had multi-hit games, with third baseman Nick Quintana going 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI.
Arizona’s offense made a few brief appearances Friday before their big seventh inning “comeback”. In the second, Wells singled to lead off the inning and Quintana and Paugh walked to load the bases. The next batter, shortstop Jacob Blas, singled to score Austin Wells and get Arizona’s first run. Donta Williams also hit an RBI single and the Wildcats got back in the ball game with a score of 4-2 Utah. Arizona added another run in the sixth thanks to a Nick Quintana single and a fourth in the seventh from a Quintana double.
“There was no phase of the game that was good enough to win a Division 1 baseball game tonight,” Johnson said.
Arizona and Utah play the second game of their weekend series Saturday at 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett.