What blowout loss?
Less than 48 hours removed from an all-around bad performance in its home opener, Arizona rebounded in a big way with a 14-3 win over Milwaukee on Thursday night at Hi Corbett Field.
“One of the greatest things about baseball is the ability to turn the page,” UA coach Chip Hale said.
The Wildcats (4-1) scored eight runs in the top of the first inning, sending 12 batters to the plate and having new leadoff hitter Nik McClaughry score twice. They finished with 19 hits, four by Chase Davis, who hit a moon shot to lead off the fourth that landed on the Terry Francona Hitting Center.
Davis also made the defensive play of the night, diving for a ball down the left field line in the top of the third.
“Hitting is hard, so it doesn’t happen too often, but at the same time those plays don’t happen too often as well, so I’d say I’m more proud of the catch,” Davis said.
Davis, who is hitting .455 with five RBI in five games after collecting only seven hits and four RBI during his freshman season, said the team was motivated to put the previous game behind them.
“The coaches were telling us, we don’t lose in this ballpark,” Davis said. “I think what Tuesday did and showed us is, you know what, we’re capable of more. We tried to come out to tonight and show that.”
After committing six errors in the 19-3 loss to Grand Canyon, the UA shuffled around both its lineup and its infield. Garen Caulfield, who had started the first four games at third base—where Tony Bullard will play when he returns from a shoulder injury—went to second base where he was penciled in to play before the season, while redshirt freshman Jack Grant made his first career start at third.
The Wildcats were errorless for the third time in four games.
“We had some funky plays the other night, and we didn’t make them,” Hale said. “It was a big difference. And you make a couple early plays, it does loosen you up.”
On the mound, freshman right-hander Anthony Susac picked up the win in his first career start, allowing three runs and six hits over five innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Righty Jonathan Guardado followed with scoreless innings and righty Chris Barraza struck out four over two scoreless innings to finish it out.
“It was impressive,” Hale said of Susac. “And with a 3-game series coming up next weekend, we’ll have probably a really good arm in the bullpen to give us some real length.”
All nine Arizona starters had at least one hit, with McClaughry and Tanner O’Tremba getting three, while Blake Paugh had three RBI and both McClaughry and Noah Turley drove in two. The lineup had nine strikeouts, but unlike many of the 14 whiffs on Tuesday few of these were the result of swinging at bad pitches.
Arizona and Milwaukee (3-1) play the second of four games at 6 p.m. MT Friday, with sophomore righty TJ Nichols getting the start.