Garrett Irvin spent a lot of time earlier this week thinking about how he was about to pitch his last game at Hi Corbett Field.
#Gary made sure it was a memorable swan song.
Arizona’s senior left-hander struck out a season-high nine and allowed just a run and three hits over seven innings, setting the tone for a 5-2 win over No. 2 Oregon State on Saturday night. A crowd of 5,323 at Hi Corbett Field saw the Wildcats (34-18, 15-11 Pac-12) improved to 26-9 in games started by Irvin in his career, moving to 9-3 when he pitches the day after a loss.
“He’s what a veteran college pitcher looks like,” UA coach Chip Hale said. “He’s like that stopper for us. When we go to struggle, he just comes out and gives us a great game. He’s done it now, it’s numerous times to pick us up. It’s pretty impressive.”
Yet when Irvin threw his 115th pitch, one shy of his career high, to strike out OSU’s Jabin Trosky to end the top of the seventh, he left a 1-1 game. Four pitches later, though, it was 3-1 Arizona after Garen Caulfield led off with a single and Noah Turley blasted a 441-foot shot to left.
The UA would score four that inning, the other two on a 2-out Daniel Susac single.
“Boy that ball went a long way,” Hale said of Turley, who has homered in two straight games. “He’s getting better and better, whether it’s out at first base or with his swing. He’s calming down and doing a better job.”
Turley, a junior college transfer who blasted 22 homers last season at Yavapai College, has started 36 games but only nine of the last 16 with five starts at first base and four at DH. He credits former UA coach Jerry Stitt for helping him improve.
“He has come into some practices and really calmed me down mentally and it’s been a big help to me, for sure,” Turley said.
The only run Irvin allowed came in the top of the first, yielding a 2-out single to Pac-12 Player of the Year frontrunner Jacob Melton and then an RBI double to Mason Guerra on a liner that Chase Davis was charging in on as it tailed away and got past him.
“It’s probably the worst way to start a game, to give up a run, especially when you’re the home team,” Irvin said. “So I think once I give up that first run it kind of just lights a fire under me and so I think it’s benefited me.”
Irvin only allowed three more baserunners the rest of the way. A night after OSU (40-10, 19-7) saw 233 pitches, with 28 Beavers seeing five or more in their at-bats, Irvin crafted his approach with that in mind.
“I think the advantage of pitching Saturday, like I’ve said before, is I get to watch the (opposing) hitters,” Irvin said. “They are a little different from other Pac-12 teams just because I think maybe the other (teams) are more aggressive. There’s certain pitches that I might throw to USC that I won’t to Oregon State. I just kind of kept getting better with my accuracy and figuring out what I could throw that maybe they won’t hit as hard.”
Saturday’s win ensured the UA at least a .500 record in Pac-12 play. Since joining the conference in 1979 it has made the NCAA Tournament 16 of 21 times it has finished .500 or better in the league.
Arizona will try to win the series—which is hasn’t done in consecutive seasons against OSU since 2003-05—on Sunday when freshman righty Anthony ‘Tonko’ Susac (4-1 7.55) faces Beavers righty Jake Pfennings (2-0, 0.48).