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Matt Fraizer has big night as Arizona baseball takes series opener vs. College of Charleston

Matt Fraizer
Jason Bartel

After dropping three of their previous five games, Arizona baseball got back to winning ways on Friday night, when they staved off a big inning from the College of Charleston Cougars to claim a 7-5 win at Hi Corbett Field.

The Wildcats (9-5) rode an impressive start on the mound from senior lefty Avery Weems, a clutch relief appearance from freshman Bryce Collins, and a solid all-around night at the plate to counteract their defensive struggles.

Arizona was able to build an early lead over the Cougars, scoring six runs in the first four innings of the game. Their offensive outburst early on ultimately proved to be enough to beat the Cougars, but not before things got interesting.

Junior Matt Fraizer notched his first of four RBIs in the bottom of the first inning and the Wildcats soon extended their lead when Fraizer drove in another in the third, before Nick Quintana, Ryan Holgate and Dayton Dooney also drove in runs in the frame.

Fraizer added yet another RBI in the next inning, making it 6-0.

Weems took advantage of the breathing room he was given and cruised through his first five innings of work. He allowed only one hit while striking out four in the early going.

He ran into trouble in the sixth however after shortstop Cameron Cannon botched a routine throw to first base, which ultimately resulted in five unearned runs coming across to score for Charleston.

All five runs scored after Weems had recorded two outs in the inning and may have been prevented had Cannon converted the throw to lead off the inning. The error was Cannon’s 10th in the last four games.

Cannon’s struggles in the field are very surprising considering he is widely considered to be a top defensive player. UA head coach Jay Johnson said he won’t consider taking him out of the lineup or even using him as the designated hitter.

“He might be one of those guys that all he has known is success,” Johnson said, “probably just pressing a little bit. We have great confidence in him. We’re going to keep trucking with him.”

After the fifth run came across for the Cougars, Johnson went to Collins in the bullpen to try to get out of the jam. Weems was effective in his start, allowing no earned runs, despite the big inning in the top of the sixth.

Collins, who was making his first collegiate relief appearance, walked his first batter to load the bases, before getting out of the jam with no further damage.

The freshman was impressive the rest of the way, allowing no hits in his 3.1 innings of work.

Arizona added an insurance room after Fraizer drove in Williams in the eighth inning for his fourth RBI of the night. Astonishingly, all four of Fraizer’s RBIs scored Williams, who had replaced Fraizer as the leadoff hitter for the first time this season.

The switch seemed to work out for both of them. Williams went 4-5 and reached base all five times due to an error, while Fraizer went 3-4 with four RBIs, hitting out of the three-spot.

“Personnel wise, we needed to make some shifts,” Johnson said of the lineup changes, “I like having both of those guys (Williams and Fraizer) coming up in the first inning, especially with the way they have been swinging the bat.”

The lineup changes and the call to the freshman Collins out of the bullpen were both moves that paid off for Johnson, whose team needed something to get out of this little early season rut.

The Wildcats take on Charleston again Saturday at 6 p.m. MST in the second of the three-game series.

Postgame interview

Here is Jay Johnson after Arizona baseball’s 7-5 victory against the College of Charleston:

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, March 8, 2019