What began as a pitcher’s duel Sunday morning at Hi Corbett ended with pitchers fighting to survive their respective innings.
Arizona scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Wisconsin Milwaukee 12-11. Nick Quintana was the hero, sending a walk-off single down the left field line with two outs in the inning.
With the win, the Wildcats take the series and improve to 8-4 on the season.
Before Quintana’s heroics, Arizona had not led the entire game. Arizona’s pitchers allowed 11 runs and were also undermined by four errors, two by shortstop Cameron Cannon alone. The four more errors today make eight for the Wildcats in their last two games.
Senior Avery Weems took the mound for the Wildcats on Sunday, and cruised through his first three innings of work.
In the fourth, after allowing a leadoff single to second baseman Mitchell Buban, shortstop Trevor Schwecke crushed a ground ball right at Quintana for what should have been a sure double play.
But Quintana was unable to field the ball as it shot through his legs, and runners moved to second and third. A single two batters later with the bases loaded brought in UWM’s first two runs. Weems allowed one run more before getting out of the inning with the Wildcats down three to nothing.
An inning later, a routine grounder to Cannon was bobbled, allowing leadoff batter Devin Rybacki to reach base. Weems was replaced by Preston Price two batters later with two runners in scoring position.
Price allowed one run (charged to Weems) before escaping the jam.
Arizona’s offense awoke in the bottom of the fifth. Walks by second baseman Dayton Dooney and right fielder Ryan Holgate forced UWM to go to its bullpen.
First baseman Toney Bullard bunted the runners over and singles by Cannon and Matt Fraizer pulled the Wildcats within two before a sacrifice fly from catcher Austin Wells brought Arizona within one before the inning ended.
Despite only trailing 4-3 entering the sixth, Price returned and loaded the bases with one out before Arizona coach Jay Johnson turned to sophomore Zach Sherman. Sherman allowed a sacrifice fly to Buban, the first batter, then a single and double for three more UWM runs. Just like that Arizona found themselves down 7-3.
Again Arizona responded, and again it started with the bottom of the order. Holgate and Dooney walked just like the fifth, and pinch hitter Donta Williams crushed a triple into the right center gap, scoring Holgate and Dooney and pulling Arizona within two.
After Cannon walked, Fraizer laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Williams. Another sac fly from Wells, this one right at the 366 sign in right field, tied the game at 7-all.
Two innings later, the drama continued. Freshman Tyler Casagrande replaced Holgate in right field to begin the inning. With two on and two out, a fly ball was hit right at Casagrande but he dropped it, then kicked the ball to the foul line.
By the time he scrambled to get it and throw it to his cut-off man, both runners scored and Joe Vyskocil, the batter, stood at second. Two more runs were scored later in the inning, pushing UWM’s lead to 11-7.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Arizona’s second and final comeback began.
Matt Dyer reached on an error with one out in the inning, before designated hitter Tate Soderstrom doubled to bring him home.
Casagrande, the next batter, grounded out to put Arizona down to their final out.
But Dooney singled to plate Soderstrom and took second on the play. Cannon and Fraizer then tallied a pair of RBI singles to tie the game. The next batter, Quintana, ripped the second pitch he saw down the left field line, scoring Cannon to complete the comeback.
In all, Arizona’s offense scored those 12 runs with just 12 hits, but had eight players walk. Cannon had three hits and two RBI in a rare leadoff appearance. Fraizer matched him in hits and had three RBI himself. Williams, who came in the game in the sixth inning, still had two hits and two RBI.
As for Arizona’s pitching, only four of UWM’s eleven runs were earned. Weems went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs but only one earned thanks to Quintana’s error. Gil Luna got the win after 1 1/3 easy innings in relief.
Arizona will look to keep it going as Tuesday when it hosts Michigan State at 6 p.m.