So far so good for Arizona baseball during its season-defining road trip.
Needing to win their final six games at Penn State and Washington State to have any chance of receiving an invite to the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats (28-24, 12-4) beat PSU for the second straight night when they routed the Nittany Lions, 15-2, on Friday in Happy Valley.
The win was UA’s sixth in a row and their ninth in their last 10 games and also brought their RPI to 44, up more than 20 spots from just a week ago.
For the second straight game, Arizona’s starting pitcher dominated Penn State, as Andrew Nardi (4-5) didn’t allow a run in his seven innings of work. The junior lefty got the win, giving up just five hits and two walks while striking out seven in what was probably his best start of the year.
Nate Brown did allow five runs outs of the bullpen, but by that time the score was 13-0 and the game had long been over.
At the plate, the Wildcats came up with more of their usual good work, as they backed up Nardi’s quality performance with yet another incredible showing at the plate. Seven different players drove in runs, while three different guys left the yard with homers.
Freshman Austin Wells led the way with five RBIs and a three-run HR in the top of the fourth inning. The multidimensional Wells has been sensational this year and became the first UA freshman since 1976 to record 50+ RBIs and 50+ runs scored in a single season.
Senior Justin Wylie also had a day to remember in game two against the Nittany Lions, driving in four runs via a grand slam in the top of the first inning that made it 6-0 and blew the game open early on.
Nick Quintana, Blake Paugh and Kobe Kato also drove in a run each, while Ryan Holgate hit a solo home run and Dayton Dooney continued his recent tear with two RBIs of his own.
Remarkably, Dooney now has 14 RBIs in the last week.
A month ago nobody would have believed it, but with only four games left in their season, the Wildcats are now well and truly alive in their pursuit of a return to the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona will look to continue their winning ways, when they go for seven straight victories and the sweep of Penn State on Saturday at 11 a.m. MST.
They wrap up the regular season next weekend at last-place Washington State.