Things aren’t looking too good for Arizona baseball.
After being swept in a three-game weekend series at No. 1 UCLA, the Wildcats were defeated by San Diego State 6-4 on Monday night, their fourth straight loss.
The road defeat to the Aztecs meant that Arizona went 0-4 during their Southern California road-trip and dropped their 2019 record to a disappointing 13-11 with the midpoint of their season approaching.
It was the third straight day that the Wildcats’ opponent would score what ended up being the game-winning runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, after UCLA scored two runs to go up 12-10 in the eighth on Saturday, and did it again the next day, when they plated two runs in the eighth to take a 3-1 lead over the Cats on Sunday.
Against SDSU, Arizona was holding a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, but again were unable to capitalize on it, allowing the Aztecs to score three-runs in the frame to ultimately hand the Wildcats yet another deflating L.
Even just a 2-2 split of the road-trip would have been monumental for a team whose NCAA Tournament hopes are slowly beginning to fade.
Nick Quintana got Arizona off to a good start in San Diego, hitting an opposite field home run in the top of the first inning, but the Wildcats were unable to build on the early 1-0 lead.
The home run was Quintana’s third on the season and brought his RBI total to 27 – the second highest RBI mark on the team behind the injured Matt Fraizer.
After the home run in the top of the first, SDSU took the lead the very next frame.
Arizona’s starter on the night, freshman George Arias Jr. ultimately allowed three earned runs in only 2.2 innings of work. In what was his first career start, he left the game with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, trailing 3-1.
The Wildcats’ bullpen did give them a chance after Arias Jr. was removed, as the combination of Jonathan Guardado, Gil Luna, Preston Price, Randy Abshier and Vince Vannelle didn’t allow a run to score over the course of the third through seventh innings.
The Cats’ offense was then able to take advantage of keeping the Aztecs off the board, and when Cameron Cannon and Jacob Blas drove in an RBI apiece in the fifth and sixth innings, the game was tied at 3-3.
It was Cannon’s 26th RBI of the season and Blas’ eighth.
Cannon is also now batting .374, the second highest mark on the team, again behind only the injured Fraizer.
With the score still knotted up in the top of the eighth, Donta Williams drew a walk with the bases loaded to give Arizona a 4-3 lead and put them in a position to not leave California completely empty handed.
It wasn’t to be.
San Diego State scored three runs off of Avery Weems in the eighth to go up 6-4 and ultimately steal the win from the Wildcats.
In what was a game where they used eight pitchers, Weems took the L on the mound. He allowed three hits and the three runs in his one inning pitched.
The defeat was another case of Arizona’s inability to consistently throw strikes when it mattered most and get outs on defense (they made two errors in the game).
It won’t be an easy result to swallow for this Wildcat’s team, who were desperate return to Tucson with a boosted RPI via at least one win from the road-trip.
Things don’t get any easier for Jay Johnson’s team in the immediate future either, as they will now fly back on Tuesday and begin preparations for a weekend series up the road in Tempe against 22-1 Arizona State.
If this Arizona team wants to receive an invite to the NCAA Tournament, something needs to change for them.
First pitch against the ninth-ranked Sun Devils is scheduled for Friday night at 7 p.m. MST.