On Sunday afternoon, Arizona baseball continued on their journey back to respectability when they defeated Washington 7-4 to seal a three-game series sweep over the Huskies.
The win and the sweep were both steps in the right direction for a program that came into the series with a record under .500 and fresh off their worst stretch of play during Jay Johnson’s time in Tucson.
“Big picture for us is to play good baseball. We really played good baseball this weekend,” Johnson said after the win on Sunday, “I thought the starting pitching was outstanding each night, our offense was in real character against a defense who hasn’t given up much this year and I thought we played good defense as well.”
Per usual, Arizona (16-14, 5-7) fired on all cylinders offensively over the course of the series, averaging close to 10 runs per game, but it was their pitching that was the major difference between the three wins against UW and the seven-game losing streak that the Wildcats endured directly prior to this weekend.
The nine total runs that Arizona allowed Washington to score in the three games was the lowest amount of total runs they had given up in a series all season.
Their bullpen in particular was much improved, as only one Wildcat relief pitcher was charged with a run against the Huskies.
That run came in Sunday’s game three, when Avery Weems allowed a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning. By that time however, Arizona was well ahead in the game and had already done enough to seal the victory and the sweep.
“By far,” Johnson responded when he was asked if this weekend was the bullpen’s best series of the year.
Washington jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off Andrew Nardi in the top of the first, but the Wildcats soon responded with runs in both the second and third innings.
Justin Wylie doubled in two in the bottom of the second, before Austin Wells and Nick Quintana continued their recent tears and drove in a run apiece in the third to make it 4-1.
Quintana now has a team-best 34 RBIs this season.
Arizona then added to their lead when they scored two runs in the fifth inning. The first was via an error by the Washington first baseman, while the second came from Cameron Cannon’s Pac-12 best 17th double of the season.
Cannon, who was in a mini-slump both on defense and at the plate earlier this season, has seemed to be back to his usual self of late.
Trailing 6-1, the Huskies made things interesting in the sixth inning when they scored two runs to make it 6-3 and knock Nardi out of the game.
With things seemingly in the balance, Weems came out of the bullpen with two outs and got out of a huge bases-loaded jam to end the inning with the Wildcats’ three-run lead intact.
“That was the magic-moment of the game,” Johnson said afterwards.
Matt Dyer’s RBI single in the sixth brought the score to 7-3 before the HR off Weems made it 7-4.
That was the closest Washington would get, as Weems worked a scoreless final two innings.
Dyer was Arizona’s standout performer on offense, going 4-4 with an RBI. He now has the team’s best batting average at .396.
“Everyone did what they needed to do today,” said Dyer, who played both catcher and first base. “Everything came together for us.”
The lefty transfer Nardi (2-3) got the win on the mound, finishing with a career-best 10 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work. He allowed three runs and only three hits in what was a good performance on the back of multiple rocky outings.
After what was a rough road trip, it was a feel-good weekend back home for an Arizona team who, frankly, really needed it.
The Cats will look to keep the positive momentum building when they are back in action at GCU on Tuesday before hosting a weekend series against Cal at the weekend.
Here is Arizona baseball head coach, Jay Johnson, after tonight’s 7-4 win over Washington:Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, April 7, 2019
Here is Arizona baseball infielder, Cameron Cannon, after today’s 7-4 win over Washington:Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, April 7, 2019