On the heels of a historic three-game sweep of Oregon, Arizona baseball fell back to two games under .500 on Tuesday night when they were defeated by arch rival Arizona State, 10-7, in a back-and-forth affair at Hi Corbett Field.
In a game that featured four ties and five lead changes, the Wildcats’ defense was simply not good enough (a common theme this season) and ultimately cost them the win against their in-state rival.
Arizona (22-24, 10-14) made three errors, the last of which resulted in two unearned runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning.
“That play (the last error) was probably the play of the game,” a dejected UA head coach Jay Johnson said afterwards. “If we make that play, we probably get out of the inning leading 7-5.”
The defeat snapped the Wildcats’ three game winning streak and dropped their record against the Sun Devils this season to 0-4. ASU swept Arizona in Tempe in late March.
It’s the first time Arizona baseball hasn’t gotten at least got one win against ASU in a season since 2009.
“I don’t want to be okay with it,” Johnson said.
Senior Avery Weems got the start on the mound for Arizona but lasted only 2.2 innings before being replaced by Zach Sherman.
Weems threw strikes consistently and struck out five in his short outing but allowed four runs (all earned) and five hits.
Once again, the Wildcats’ bullpen was forced into a huge workload when he was removed after recording just eight outs.
Subsequent to falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning, Arizona’s explosive offense went to work and used a four-run bottom of the second to claim a 4-3 lead. A two-run single from Branden Boissierre was followed by back-to-back RBI singles from Donta Williams and Cameron Cannon to put the Wildcats on top.
However, Arizona State answered in the next inning and tied the game via a mammoth home run to right field from their talisman, Hunter Bishop.
The Wildcats then retook the lead in the bottom of the fourth, when Cannon—who is currently leading the country in doubles with 24—tripled in his second RBI of the game to make it 5-4.
Again however, ASU answered right back with a solo home run in the very next frame. This time though, it was Spencer Torkelson who went yard to tie the game at five.
Highlighting how truly back-and-forth the game was in the middle stages, Arizona quickly regained the lead again with a two-run bottom of the fifth inning. A Justin Wylie RBI double was followed by an error by the Arizona State shortstop that allowed Wylie to score.
Leading 7-5 heading to the latter stages of the game, the Wildcats’ bullpen was once again put to the task of holding a late lead against ASU.
Once again, it couldn’t get the job done.
George Arias Jr. had done excellently to get out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth but wasn’t as fortunate when he made the error in the seventh that ultimately allowed Arizona State to tie the game.
The freshman had run over to cover first base after a chopper was hit to Boissiere to the right of first. Boissierre’s throw to the bag was too hard for Arias Jr. and the ball bounced off his glove and trickled away from him, allowing a run to score and the inning to continue.
If the Wildcats had been able to make that play, the whole course of the last Territorial Cup game of the season might have been different.
They didn’t though, and ASU regained the lead for good in the top of the eighth inning.
A sacrifice fly had made it 8-7, before Bishop struck a dagger into Arizona’s hearts by crushing his 21st homer of the season deep to right field over the Terry Francona Hitting Center.
“The whole plan was to not let him beat us,” Johnson said, “and he beat us tonight.”
Arizona went quietly in bottom of the eighth and the ninth innings to seal the loss. Vince Vannelle was ultimately the losing pitcher, after he allowed the three-run eighth inning.
It was a loss that probably ended an already slim chance of a postseason berth, as ASU’s high RPI had given the Wildcats a chance to boost theirs with a win.
The Cats are back in action this weekend at Hi Corbett when they host USC for their last home series of the season.
First pitch in Friday’s series opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.
Here is Arizona baseball head coach, Jay Johnson, after tonight’s 10-7 loss to ASU:Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Wednesday, May 8, 2019