During its run to the College World Series last season, it never felt like Arizona was ever out of a game. That hadn’t always felt like the case this spring.
Maybe it took a little bit of heat—literally and figuratively—to get the Wildcats back to that familiar place.
Arizona rallied from a pair of 4-run deficits to roll past No. 2 Oregon State 10-5 on Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field, taking the weekend series over the Pac-12’s first place team. The Wildcats have taken back-to-back series from the Beavers for the first time since taking three straight from 2003-05.
“We always felt like we were in the game,” said center fielder Mac Bingham, whose 3-run home run from the No. 9 spot in the bottom of the fourth served as the turning point. “I think we’ve proven that, even Friday with a loss. We have a lot of fight and we have a lot of dudes.”
Arizona (35-18, 16-11) handed OSU (40-11, 19-8) its first back-to-back losses this season by driving in seven runs with two out. Bingham’s blast, his fifth of the year, came after the Wildcats left eight runners on base in the first three innings and had been 1 for 5 with the bases loaded.
Down 5-4 after the Bingham homer, the UA took the lead for good in the fifth with three more runs. The first two came on a 2-run shot from Chase Davis, his 15th of the season and ninth in Pac-12 play—one shy of the school conference record—and then Tommy Splaine added a 2-out RBI single.
A third straight 3-run inning produced two more 2-out run-scoring hits, from Tony Bullard and Garen Caulfield.
The Wildcats finished with 14 hits but also nine walks, four more than OSU had allowed in any game this season. Three were by Noah Turley, who homered in the previous two games, while Caulfield and Davis had two each.
“When you’re just patient as a hitter, and you’re swinging at pitches that are strikes, and you take pitches that are balls, you are pretty successful,” said Davis, who leads Arizona with 40 walks.
UA coach Chip Hale said the seeds for Sunday’s win, as well as Saturday’s 5-2 victory, were planted in the final innings of Friday’s 12-9 loss. After the Wildcats gave up seven runs in the top of the eighth to trail 12-5 they still kept swinging, causing OSU to bring its closer in the ninth.
“I think Friday night set the tone,” Hale said. “I think they saw us come back … snd they were like, you know what, these guys can hit. We can never be comfortable. Sometimes hitters scare guys out of the zone, because they know if they throw the ball in the zone, there’s a good chance we’re gonna hit it. It’s a hot day, the field’s hard. The wind was not (bad), it was blowing normal, so you know the ball was gonna fly.”
It didn’t hurt that Sunday’s game was played nearly entirely in triple digits, with a first-pitch temperature of 99 on a day that would top out a 105 to break the daily record.
“They’re out of their comfort zone playing here, compared to what they’re used to playing in, so I know it’s tough on them,” Hale said of Oregon State.
Arizona scored 24 runs in the series against a pitching staff that came in with a conference-best 3.45 ERA. The Beavers had only yielded 22 runs in their previous four Pac-12 series.
As for the UA pitching, starter Tonko Susac lasted only three innings after allowing five runs with four walks and four strikeouts, but after him it was near perfection. Jayvn Pimental, Chris Barraza, Trevor Long and Quinn Flanagan combined to allow four hits with one walk over six shutout innings of relief.
Arizona will wrap up the regular season Thursday through Saturday at Oregon. The Ducks (31-21, 15-12) are a game behind the Wildcats for fourth place, making it very likely they’ll meet in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament the following week in Scottsdale.