Midweek college baseball can be an adventure, with the ability to go deep into the roster for a nonconference game often leading to a litany of substitutions.
But while Utah Tech used all but one of the 27 players it brought on the trip, Arizona stuck mostly with regulars in the field and on the mound in an 11-2 victory on a windy Tuesday night.
The victory was the ninth in a row at Hi Corbett Field for the Wildcats (13-6) but first overall win in 10 days after getting swept at UCLA over the weekend. Those three losses saw the UA strand 31 runners, with seven of its 10 runs coming on home runs, while many of its best pitchers struggled including some high-leverage arms.
“We wanted to get all those relievers back out there,” said coach Chip Hale, who used seven pitchers with six of them appearing this past weekend. “We felt like Trevor (Long), (Chris) Barraza and Dawson (Netz) all had a little bit of a bad taste in their mouth from the weekend, so we wanted to kind of get him out there in competition. They’re gonna have to pitch two or three times, or at least two times, this weekend.”
After Anthony ‘Tonko’ Susac went the first three innings, allowing three hits with three strikeouts in his first appearance since March 4, Eric Orloff came on and got four outs to pick up the win. Derek Drees and Jackson Kent threw the middle innings, with Netz, Barraza and Long finishing it out with a scoreless frame apiece and a combined six strikeouts.
The UA had 14 hits, three by Kiko Romero, who batted leadoff after being in the No. 4 spot most of the season, while leadoff man Mac Bingham moved to the 4 hole. Both moves worked, as Romero scored four times and added his sixth homer of the season while Bingham drove in three—two on sacrifice flies—to give him 27 RBI for the season, one more than Romero.
“You just got to trust the guy in front of you and behind you,” Bingham said. “We’ve been hitting really well, I mean, even at UCLA we were hitting the ball well. (Kiko) puts the ball in play, but he also, as you can see today, hit bombs. We have just a lot of versatile people and I think you can probably come put them in anywhere.”
After scoring once in the bottom of the first, Arizona scored three times in the fifth on an RBI double from Nik McClaughry, a run-scoring bounceout from Chase Davis and a 2-out single from Bingham. It was the first time Arizona scored multiple runs in an inning, without the benefit of the longball, since the 7th inning of the series finale against Cal on March 11.
After Utah Tech scored twice in the sixth to get within 4-2, Arizona put the game away with a 5-run seventh that was aided by two errors.
“I think just being more consistent and battling with two strikes, putting the ball in play and making something happen when it’s there,” Bingham said of Arizona better plate performance Tuesday.
The Wildcats return to Pac-12 play, and the road, when they visit ASU for a series Friday through Sunday. All three games will be shown on Pac-12 Network.