Late-inning drama has been the theme for Arizona baseball the last few weeks, both good and bad. And after a couple positive outcomes, the tide got turned to the negative with a return to the road.
Stanford’s Malcolm Moore hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring Tommy Troy from third to give the first-place Cardinal a 9-8 win over the Wildcats on Friday night.
It was the fourth time in the last five road games the UA (26-21, 9-16 Pac-12) has been walked off, having it twice at Oregon State as well as in 12 innings at Grand Canyon on the last road trip. Arizona then won on back-to-back walkoffs in its previous two home games, against Air Force on Sunday and Nevada on Wednesday, making for six walkoff results in the past nine contests.
That Arizona was in position to get walked off, though, was the result of a big rally to erase a 5-run deficit after five innings. The Wildcats tied it at 8 in the top of the eighth with three runs, two scoring on a Stanford error and the tying run coming in on a straight steal of home by Nik McClaughry.
STIXX!! TIE BALLGAME!! @NikMcclaughry steals home... ♂️ #BearDown— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) May 13, 2023
It was McClaughry’s second steal of home in the past nine games, doing so in Arizona’s 2-1 loss at Oregon State on April 28. Prior to that, the last UA player with a straight steal of home was in 2015.
McClaughry reached base all five times, going 3 for 4 with a walk and two RBI. He drove in two with two out in the sixth to get the UA within 8-5.
Stanford (33-13, 19-6) looked like it was going to go back up in the bottom of the eighth when, with a runner on third and two out, a fly ball down the left field line by Eddie Park seemed destined to fall. Until Chase Davis came out of nowhere to keep the game tied.
.@chasedavis916 IS HIM‼️ play to keep us even!! ️ #SCTop10 x #D1Top10 pic.twitter.com/lhx7FYlo75— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) May 13, 2023
The UA led 3-0 after the second inning, making it 13 for 13 in having a lead in Pac-12 road games. But Stanford came right back and scored six in the bottom of the second off Cam Walty, who had allowed only three runs in 27 innings as a starter.
Walty ended up going five, allowing eight runs on 11 hits with two home runs. The second, a 2-run bomb by Stanford’s Braden Montgomery, made it 8-3 in the fifth. Derek Drees and Dawson Netz followed with scoreless innings to give Arizona a shot to come back, then Trevor Long got through the eighth clean before allowing a leadoff single to start the ninth.
A 1-out double and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Moore, who hit a fly ball to Mac Bingham in center that was too deep for a throw home. Both of Arizona’s walkoff losses at Oregon State came right after Chip Hale opted to intentionally walk a batter to load the bases.
Arizona had 11 hits, 10 off Stanford starter Quinn Mathews, who allowed a season-high five runs. McClaughry and Bingham had three each, with Bingham’s all doubles, and Tony Bullard was 2 for 3 with two walks and three runs scored.
Davis was 0 for 5, ending his 59-game on-base streak that was tied for the longest in school history.
The second game of the series is set for Saturday at 3 p.m., with left-hander Bradon Zastrow set to start for the Wildcats.