The hitting has been there all year for the Arizona Wildcats. The pitching and defense, not so much.
But for the second straight game, Arizona got strong efforts in all three areas to pace a 14-2 win over the Washington Huskies on Saturday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
Combined with Friday’s 9-3 victory, Arizona (15-14, 4-7 Pac-12) has won consecutive games for the first time since March 16-19. The Wildcats had dropped seven in a row, all on the road, prior to this weekend.
“I think we’ve played our best two games the last two games,” coach Jay Johnson said.
Averaging 9.3 per game coming in, which ranked fourth-best in the country, Arizona reached double digits in runs for the 13th time this season. But unlike many of those games, it didn’t need more than the three-spot it got in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI single from Austin Wells and a two-run home run by Dayton Dooney.
That’s because right-hander Quinn Flanagan (4-1) continued his stellar pitching at home. He allowed two runs on eight hits over seven innings, which actually upped his ERA to 1.45 over 31 IP at Hi Corbett. Randy Abshier and Nate Brown followed with scoreless frames in relief.
“Pitching, to me, is throwing the ball where you want to and changing speeds,” Johnson said. “All three guys ... did that today. It makes it really difficult for the hitter to sit on one pitch. If you can cause some indecision they don’t quite get those authoritative swings.”
Helping the pitchers was another solid defensive effort, which for much of the season didn’t exist. Arizona went errorless for the second game in a row and fourth time in five contests, a far cry from the team that entered the weekend with 48 errors in 27 games, though it helped that first baseman Matthew Dyer made at least two miscue-saving plays on errant throws.
Dooney’s homer was his fifth of the season, fourth in five games, and was one of eight extra-base hits tallied by Arizona among its 14 knocks.
Every Arizona starter reached base at least once, with Dyer going 3 for 5 while Wells and Cameron Cannon each had two hits and three RBI. Wells, a freshman, raised his average to a team-best .402.
“It’s definitely been a great comeback after the last two weeks,” Wells said. “I think we’ve put in a lot of hard work this week, getting back after it at home.”
The Wildcats can complete the sweep of Washington (14-11, 5-6) with a win Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.