SCOTTSDALE—Arizona’s next high draft pick had a quiet first two games of the season, with more strikeouts than times on base and no displays of the raw power than has MLB scouts salivating.
The third game was a different story.
Davis slugged a pair of opposite field home runs, going 3 for 5 with four RBI, and Arizona paired that with another strong starting pitching performance in a 7-1 win over Michigan State on Sunday night in the MLB Desert Invitational at Salt River Fields.
When he is right, he’s a very, very dangerous hitter,” UA coach Chip Hale said. “He could change the game at a time.”
Davis, MLB Pipeline’s No. 51 2023 Draft prospect, put the Wildcats (2-1) on the board first in the top of the third with a 2-run shot that just went over the railing onto a grassy berm in left. Two innings later he led off with a solo bomb in almost the exact same place.
He then blooped a ball in front of Michigan State centerfielder for a 2-out double in the sixth, scoring Nik McClaughry from first.
Davis had been 1 for 7 in the first two games, with three strikeouts. The last of those punchouts, in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Fresno State, was a result of college baseball’s new “action clock” rules that call for a batter to be in the box and ready to go with at least 10 seconds left on the 20-second clock pitchers have to throw by. A violation is an automatic strike, and Davis’ infraction came with a 2-2 count and runners on first and second in what was a 3-0 game.
“It was one of those things where I was like, alright, it’s new,” Davis said. “I understand it now, moving forward it’s not gonna happen again. But it was one of those where it was unfortunate, the time and the place.”
After going 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position against Fresno, Arizona was 4 for 12 against MSU. Tyler Casagrande had an RBI single in the fourth, while Kiko Romero and Tommy Splaine added 2-out RBI hits in the later innings.
That was more than enough for left-hander Bradon Zastrow, a junior college transfer from Pima College who went 5.1 innings and allowed a run on four hits. He struck out six, walked two and hit three batters, but other than a sacrifice fly in the third he kept the Spartans (2-1) from taking advantage of their baserunners.
“My defense played great,” he said. “They were really good behind me, and I can’t thank them enough. They made plays, they helped me out when I needed it, and they just competed.”
Zastrow helped his own cause by coming off the mound for a soft bouncer, looking a runner back at third before throwing the hitter out at first, and also fielding a sacrifice bunt attempt with two on and firing to third to get the lead runner.
Righties Dawson Netz and Chris Barraza followed with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief, combining for six strikeouts.
“We feel like we have a wealth of arms,” Hale said. “At some point we’re gonna get to three (starters) for the weekend, and we still have some guys that are hurt right now that are gonna get opportunities the next couple of weeks. So we’re excited about that, and you’re gonna have somebody in there that’s going to have a lot of length that can pitch in any game anytime.”
Righty Aiden May, another Pima transfer, is set to start Monday’s 1 p.m. MT game against UC-San Diego in the MLB Desert Invitational finale at Sloan Park in Mesa.