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Bullpen rights ship for Arizona baseball to 4-game complete sweep of Milwaukee

arizona-wildcats-college-baseball-milwaukee-panthers-recap-sweep-randall-otremba-laliberta-2022 Arizona Athletics

Arizona produced the Pac-12’s first Player and Pitcher of the Week winners, both of whom were in action on Sunday. One struggled to match that initial performance, while the other was part of the reason it didn’t affect the outcome.

Tanner O’Tremba recorded his fourth 3-hit game of the season, while four relievers picked up the slack for starter Dawson Netz as the Wildcats rallied to beat Milwaukee 8-6 on Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field, completing a 4-game sweep.

The UA bullpen threw 5.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing one hit and one walk with five strikeouts. Freshman right-hander Josh Randall got the win with 1.2 perfect innings of relief, with Arizona (7-1) taking the lead during his time on the mound via a 4-run bottom of the fourth.

“Josh Randall changed the game,” coach Chip Hale said. “Came in, settled everybody down. Mowed them down. He got the pitching game ball for that. I thought he changed the game for us, settled the offense, got them back in there to hit.

Netz, who threw five shutout innings in a win over Texas Tech last Sunday at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, earning him the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award, allowed six runs in 3.1 innings but only two were earned. The Wildcats committed three errors, all while Netz was pitching.

“The one thing about today that was a little bit bothersome, all the errors we made were plays that we make ease,” Hale said. “Now, there’s errors out there where they take a bad hop or hit your chest, and just have to live with it. But these are ones that we can control, and we have to do better at.”

All of Arizona’s runs came in the first and fourth, a pair of 4-spots in which it collected eight of its 12 hits. Both of those frames were anchored by catcher Daniel Susac, who had 3 doubles, and O’Tremba, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week who has 16 hits and 12 RBI in eight games after managing 18 hits and 14 RBI all of 2021.

“It’s great to start the season off well, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” O’Tremba said. “I think in baseball, you try to not get too high, try not to get too low.”

Also getting three hits was sophomore Cameron LaLiberte, who made his first start of the season and batted eighth as the designated hitter. He was 3 for 4 with a double and triple after entering the game with two career hits.

“It’s fun to watch him play,” O’Tremba said of LaLiberte. “I think the coolest thing about our team is no matter what, who’s in the game, we trust them to go in and get a hit. It’s awesome, but we’re not surprised because we got a ton of great players on our team, whether they’re in the game or not in the game.”

With LaLiberte’s peformance, combined with Tommy Splaine getting two hits with a home run on Saturday and Susac hitting .375 with 15 RBI, Arizona’s depth at catcher is notable.

“We need depth,” Hale said. “We’ve got some injuries, with Tony (Bullard) out, and (Tyler) Casagrande out now. “Our three catchers are very, very competent with a bat, so it’s good to see.”

Arizona, which is was 6-2 at this point a year ago en route to the College World Series, continues its 10-game homestand Tuesday at 6 p.m. MT against Dixie State. Junior right-hander Quinn Flanagan will make his first start of the season.