Well. So far, so good for Arizona baseball in 2020.
In what was the second of a three-game series to open the new season, the Wildcats blew out the Albany Great Danes 15-0 Saturday night at Hi Corbett Field.
The combination of a strong start from sophomore righty Quinn Flanagan and an explosive offensive performance powered the Cats to a 12th straight win dating back to last year.
Flanagan got the win on the mound, setting a career high in strikeouts with 10 and allowing just two hits and two walks over the course of a 7-inning appearance. Freshman righty Wesley Scott then made his collegiate debut out of the bullpen, pitching the last two innings effectively by striking out three while giving up no hits or walks. The duo combined to throw a two-hit shutout.
“Quinn and Wesley both did a great job,” UA head coach Jay Johnson said afterwards. “Throwing multiple pitches for strikes didn’t allow (Albany) to get very many good swings, and it just didn’t seem like they could get really any momentum going because of how well we filled up the strike zone.”
Filling up the strike zone, or “strike zone pressure” as he puts it, is something Johnson has been harping on for weeks. And even if it’s been against less than stellar competition, the Wildcats’ pitching has already no doubt been better than it was last year.
The team’s 27 strikeouts over the first two games of the new campaign are more than it had in any two consecutive games all of 2019.
In fact, the Wildcats have totaled more Ks in each of the first two games of 2020 (14 on Friday and 13 on Saturday) than it did in any single game last season.
Afterwards, Flanagan said that those improvements have come down to the staff making better adjustments.
“I think it’s just guys making good adjustments,” he said. “We’ve really been focusing in the fall and leading up into the the spring on working ahead of guys. That kind of frees you up to make pitches that hitters have to kind of make a decision earlier on. I think that’s what you’re seeing.”
Of his own performance on Saturday night, he said after that he struggled a bit early on before settling into a groove to get the win.
“I came out early a little shaky,” he said. “I think I did a good job of just bouncing back from that first inning and kind of getting the feel for it. Between me and Wesley we threw a lot of good good breaking balls which kind of threw off the hitters.”
On offense, the Wildcats didn’t waste any time getting to Albany starter Cregg Scherrer.
The first four guys who came to bat in the first inning came around to score, as Donta Williams and Austin Wells opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Matt Dyer doubled them in to give Arizona an early 2-0 lead.
The next batter, sophomore Dayton Dooney, did even more damage, crushing a 400-foot home run to left center field to make it 4-0 before the Great Danes had recorded an out.
After a scoreless second, the Wildcats then blew the game open in the bottom of the third, scoring nine runs to go ahead 13-0 — in essence, ending the game.
Ryan Holgate finished with four RBIs in the third inning alone, coming up twice and driving in two runs each time, while Dyer, Jacob Blas, Blake Paugh and freshman Mac Bingham also had RBIs in the frame.
Arizona added to its lead in the fifth and eighth innings, when Blas singled in his second run of the night in the fifth before Branden Boissiere smacked a solo shot to right center in the eighth.
The Cats finished with 13 hits in what was another awe-inspiring performance at the plate following Friday’s 12-run output.
Holgate went 3-4 with 4 RBIs, while Dyer went 1-3 with 3 RBIs and Dooney with 1-3 with 2 RBIs and his HR. Jacob Blas went 3-4 with 2 RBIs as well.
“It was great,” Johnson said of the offensive performance. “That guy that started for them is going to do a lot better than that, I mean he’s a lefty that’s up to 90 miles an hour. He threw some good pitches. I just think our guys just didn’t give them an inch. When he made a mistake, we hit it. So credit to our hitters for doing a good job with staying locked into the plan. The game is not this easy and they deserve a lot of credit for the at bats they are taking.”
With the first two games of the series in hand, the Wildcats will go for the sweep of Albany in Sunday’s series finale.
Johnson announced Saturday night that one of the freshmen duo of Dawson Netz or Chandler Murphy will get the nod on the mound.
First pitch is set for 1 p.m. MST.
Here’s Arizona head coach Jay Johnson after the Wildcats’ 15-0 victory over Albany tonight: The UA is now 2-0 to start the 2020 season.Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, February 15, 2020
Here’s Arizona baseball player Ryan Holgate after the Wildcats defeated Albany 15-0 tonight. Holgate went 3-4 with 4 RBI and 2 doubles against the Great Danes and is now hitting a team best .727 through two games this season.Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, February 15, 2020
Here’s Arizona’s starting pitcher tonight, Quinn Flanagan, after her set a career high in strikeouts with 10 against Albany. He finished with a final line of: 2 hits, 2 walks and 0 runs in 7 innings pitched. He got the W as well.Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, February 15, 2020