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Arizona baseball blows lead in 9th to fall at Cal in Pac-12 opener

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The Arizona Wildcats haven’t won a Pac-12 opener since 2017, and because of a disastrous ninth inning that streak still exists.

Cal scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth against UA closer Holden Christian, rallying to beat the Wildcats 9-8 on Friday night in Berkeley, Calif.

Arizona (10-4, 0-1) led 8-2 after a 4-run top of the sixth before Cal (7-6, 1-0) scored the game’s final seven runs. Their ninth-inning rally featured just one hit but also two walks, a hit batter, a passed ball and three wild pitches, with all four runs scoring on wild pitches or passed balls.

Cal led 2-0 after two innings on a pair of solo home runs off UA starter TJ Nichols, who allowed four runs and five hits with six strikeouts in 5.1 innings. The Wildcats went ahead in the fourth with three runs via RBI hits from Mac Bingham, Garen Caulfield and Jack Grant, with Bingham driving in another run in the fifth.

The UA scored four times in the sixth on a 2-run triple by Tanner O’Tremba and a 2-run single by Tommy Splaine. The Wildcats finished with eight hits but also drew 11 walks, and they also struck out 14 times.

Arizona and Cal play the second game of their 3-game series Saturday at 4 p.m. MT.