Clutch hitting has been a staple for Arizona this season, but even the best offenses have an off night.
Arizona stranded six runners in the final three innings, including the bases loaded in the ninth in a 3-1 loss at Oregon State on Saturday night. Kobe Kato struck out to end the game, snapping the Wildcats’ 5-game win streak and handing the Wildcats their first loss in the middle game of a Pac-12 series this season.
The UA (37-14, 20-9 Pac-12) were limited to five hits, but two of those came to start the ninth on an infield single by Branden Boissiere and a double down the left field line from Jacob Berry. That put the tying runs in scoring position for Daniel Susac, who popped up the first pitch he saw from OSU closer Jake Mulholland behind home plate.
OSU catcher Troy Claunch made the catch almost against the backstop, though replays showed the protective screen behind the plate wobbling as if the ball had ricocheted off it. UA coach Jay Johnson asked the umpires to discuss the play but the out was upheld.
Blake Paugh struck out for the second out then, after Tony Bullard walked to load the bases, Kato couldn’t get to a curve ball down in the zone.
Kato scored Arizona’s only run in the sixth when he came home on a delayed double steal, with Donta’ Williams getting thrown out at second.
Oregon State (33-19, 15-11) took a 1-0 lead in the first on a 2-out single, then added two more in the third on a 2-out triple. All three runs were allowed by UA starter Garrett Irvin, who allowed nine hits with two walks and five strikeouts over 6.1 innings to fall to 5-2.
Arizona batters struck out 13 times against OSU pitchers, 11 coming against starter Cooper Hjerpe, who allowed two hits and a walk over seven. The Wildcats have struck out 27 times in two games in Corvallis.
The UA can still win its first series at OSU since 2012, and finish off their second-best record in Pac-10/12 play, with a victory Sunday at 12 p.m. PT in the conference finale.