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Arizona baseball outslugs New Mexico State for third straight win

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

In a matchup of two of the best offensive teams in college baseball, the Arizona Wildcats defeated New Mexico State 14-10 at Hi-Corbett Field on Tuesday night.

The Aggies came into the game leading the nation in nearly every offensive category, while both teams were in the top 10 in the country in hits, runs, slugging percentage and on base percentage.

The two high-powered squads didn’t disappoint Tuesday, combining for 25 hits and 24 runs in what was nearly a five-hour long, back-and-forth affair.

“It’s a good RPI win,” UA head coach Jay Johnson said afterwards. “They are the number one offense in the country and those guys at the top of their order are really good. I wish we had a few guys pitch better, but it’s good that we did what we needed to do the last few innings.”

The Wildcats were forced to use a total of nine pitchers, after starter Andrew Nardi allowed three runs in the top of the first inning and only recorded one out before being removed by Johnson.

After falling behind early (a common theme this season), Arizona responded positively to adversity once again. They got a run back in the bottom of the first inning, when a wild pitch allowed Donta Williams to score, and another in the second after Matt Dyer hit his third home run of the season, this one a solo shot to the deepest part of the park in left center field.

The Wildcats then broke things open with a seven-run bottom of the third inning.

Nick Quintana drove in his first of the night with a single to left, before Dyer tripled in two more runs and Austin Wells capped the inning with a two-run double off the wall in center field. Cameron Cannon and Williams added RBIs as well, from a fielder’s choice and a walk with the bases loaded, respectively.

Down 9-3, New Mexico State didn’t quit however, and they flashed their offensive prowess the very next half inning, scoring five runs off of three Arizona pitchers — Zach Sherman (who had come in to replace Nardi), Nate Brown and Gil Luna — to cut their deficit to 9-8.

A Jacob Blas single scored Dyer to make it 10-8 in the bottom of the fourth, before the Aggies tied the game in the sixth when they plated two runs off of Preston Price.

After the Aggies leveled the score and were threatening to retake the lead with runners on first and second and just one out in the inning, Johnson again went to his bullpen.

Freshman Randy Abshier came into replace Price, and on his first pitch induced an inning ended 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

It was a huge moment in game.

In the next half inning in the bottom of the sixth, with the scoreboard reading 10-10, Dayton Dooney smacked a three-run home run off of the Terry Francona Hitting Center in right field, giving Arizona a lead they would not relinquish.

The blast was the first of Dooney’s collegiate career and deflated a New Mexico State team who had fought from 9-3 down to even the score at 10.

Quintana added another RBI in the seventh to bring the score to 14-10 and a combination of Abshier, Jonathan Guardado and Avery Weems combined to get the final 11 outs and seal the win for the Wildcats.

It was another game where Arizona’s explosive offense covered up some concerns on the mound, but it was a good sign that the Wildcats’ bullpen came in and got the job done after Abshier got the double play to end the sixth inning.

“Pitchers don’t have to be perfect and they certainly weren’t, but the offense picked them up and it was great,” Johnson said of the up and down pitching performance

Another positive was the continuance of some solid play from Quintana. The third baseman has really come around in recent weeks after a slow start to the season, reaching base successfully in 13 straight games. He also has nine RBIs in the last four games.

Quintana went 2-3 with two RBIs and a walk, while Dyer and Dooney were the major stars on the night. They both hit home runs while recording three RBIs.

“We feel like we have momentum in our dugout after our last three games,” Dyer said. “Momentum for us is huge. Once we have it, it’s hard to take it from us.”

Arizona (13-7) will now embark on what might be their toughest stretch of the season. They play a series at No. 1 UCLA this weekend, before a one-gamer against San Diego State on Tuesday and then a series in Tempe next week against undefeated ASU.

First pitch against UCLA is scheduled for 6 p.m. MST on Friday night.

The Wildcats will be without starting center fielder Matt Fraizer for the foreseeable future. Johnson announced Tuesday that Fraizer has a broken right hand and is out indefinitely.

The junior is hitting .412 with a team-high 28 RBI. He suffered the injury against Utah on Sunday.

Postgame interviews

Matt Dyer

Here is Arizona baseball player, Matt Dyer, after yesterday’s 14-10 victory over New Mexico State:

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jay Johnson

Here is Arizona baseball head coach, Jay Johnson, after last night’s 14-10 win over New Mexico State:

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Wednesday, March 20, 2019