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Arizona baseball struggles at plate in home loss to Texas State

arizona-wildcats-baseball-college-texas-state-bobcats-recap-hale-irvin-2022-bullard Arizona Athletics

Arizona is hitting over .300 for the season and scoring more than eight runs per game. But those are averages, and there will be nights where the bats aren’t there.

Saturday was one of those nights.

The Wildcats struck out a season-high 16 times in a 6-2 home loss to Texas State at Hi Corbett Field, ending a 6-game losing streak.

“They outpitched us tonight,” UA coach Chip Hale said. “Their pitchers were better than our hitters. Baseball is not a computer game, sometimes the guy just beats you. Tonight they just beat us, plain and simple.”

Half of those 16 strikeouts were on called third strikes, including ones to end the fourth, sixth and eighth innings. The UA’s final batter struck out in every inning from the 4th through 9th.

“Got to be able to pull the trigger,” Hale said. “We put a lot of faith in these guys, and we give them a lot of leeway with their swings. The guys are getting opportunities right now to play, so obviously if it continues then you have to find somebody else.”

Arizona (9-2) left 12 men on base and did not score until the bottom of the seventh when, down 4-0, Tanner O’Tremba singled through the left side with the bases loaded to score two. Daniel Susac then hit a rope to short, starting a 6-4-3 double play and after Chase Davis was hit by a pitch Tony Bullard struck out on three pitches.

It was the first appearance of the season for Bullard, who is dealing with a shoulder injury. He was 1 for 5, singling in his first at-bat but also striking out twice.

Hale said Bullard wasn’t in the original lineup but was inserted at DH after third baseman Jack Grant broke his nose during pregame work. Garen Caulfield was shifted from second to third, and that switch played a role in Texas State’s first run in the top of the first when Caulfield took a hard bouncer off his chest and across the infield.

Originally called a hit, the play was changed to an error. After a walk and a wild pitch by UA starter Garrett Irvin, a groundout brought that run home.

“We made a misplay in the first ... and it cost us a run,” Hale said. “Pitchers are very dependent on their defense, if we don’t make plays it’s not gonna be good for them.”

Irvin allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Hale said Irvin “did okay,” but at getting to 90 pitches he should be stretched out for Arizona’s first Pac-12 series next weekend at Cal.

Arizona and Texas State play the rubber match of their 3-game series Sunday at 11 a.m. MT. The Wildcats finish their 10-game homestand Tuesday night against New Mexico before beginning Pac-12 play.