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Rally falls short against Oregon as Arizona baseball drops 9th straight in Pac-12

arizona-wildcats-baseball-oregon-ducks-recap-chip-hale-losing-streak-pac12-washington-2023 Arizona Athletics

It’s hard to come back from the kind of loss Arizona had on Saturday night, even harder when it’s in the middle of a lengthy skid. That was evident in the early innings of Sunday’s series finale against Oregon, with the Wildcats falling behind early and not showing much at the plate.

They woke up during the latter innings but couldn’t complete the comeback, losing 8-5 to the Ducks at Hi Corbett Field.

It was Arizona’s ninth consecutive loss in Pac-12 play, tied for its worst skid in the conference since losing nine in a row in 1998. The Wildcats (14-12, 3-9) have either swept or been swept in every Pac-12 series this season, with this one the first time they’ve been swept at home in the league since Stanford did so in 2018.

Arizona fell behind 5-1 after five innings, managing just six hits while stranding six baserunners. It scored three times in the seventh and one in the eighth, all on home runs, with seven hits and 10 men on base over the final four frames.

“I think there was some hangover a little bit from last night,” UA coach Chip Hale said, referring to the 13-11 loss in which it blew a 10-0 lead after two innings. “It was tough.”

Hale was back with the team after serving a 2-game suspension, the result of his ejection from Tuesday’s walkoff win over Grand Canyon. He thinks the way Arizona played in the latter stages Sunday is a sign the team hasn’t given up and could be on the cusp of breaking through.

“I said, this is where we turn it around,” Hale said. “Obviously UCLA is one of the top teams, ASU is playing really well, and these guys are swinging as good as anybody in the league. So we’re gonna have to play much better to win.

“It’s not acceptable. It’s not acceptable for this program to lose three series in a row and get swept. Not happy about it, but I think what we did the second half of today’s game I think we can take something from that and practice hard the next three days and get ready for Washington.”

Down 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Arizona had a chance to start its comeback earlier when it loaded the bases with two out. Mason White had singled past the Oregon second baseman with runners on first and second but lead runner Garen Caulfield was held at third because the right fielder had been charging the play and got the ball in quickly.

Mac Bingham would strike out on a foul tip, though, and Oregon added to its lead in the top of the seventh on a 2-run homer from Drew Cowley. Cowley had two homers and five RBI, including a run-scoring double in the ninth that padded the Ducks’ lead after Arizona got within two.

Chase Davis clubbed a 2-run homer in the seventh, with Kiko Romero lining a solo shot immediately after to cut it to 7-4, and Emilio Corona led off the eighth with a solo homer. Arizona brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate with two out in the eighth in Romero, but he was caught looking.

Davis, who has 11 homers this season and 29 for his career, two shy of Arizona’s top-10 list, said the late comeback attempt should be noted by those questioning the team’s effort during the losing streak.

“There are obviously gonna be assumptions from people,” he said. “It’s always the people that aren’t on the field that are probably saying the things that maybe not really are true. We’re fighters and we’re dogs and we know that. The whole stadium knows that, our fan base knows that. It’s just baseball. I’ve seen it before and this is how it is. We’re going to turn it around.”

Arizona next plays Thursday at home against Washington, the series beginning a day early due to Easter. Hale said practice between now and then could dictate what, if any, changes will be made to either the lineup or pitching staff.

“There’s no Triple-A,” he said. “I think we’re very capable, the guys that are in there, and you saw what they could do second half of the game.”

One guy that could be back in the mix is third baseman Tony Bullard, who has missed the last five games while in concussion protocol after he was hit by a pitch in the helmet at ASU on March 25.

“He rode the bike yesterday, he did a full workout in weight in the weight room (Sunday), so tomorrow, we’ll see what the next step is,” Hale said.