Wildcats Outlast Cardinal, Even SeriesPosted: Updated:
Brandon Dixon homered to break a tie in the ninth and fittingly made the final putout of the game to thwart one final Stanford rally as the 25th-ranked Arizona baseball team escaped with a 10-9 victory and evened a three-game series between the schools on Saturday afternoon at Sunken Diamond.
After seeing a four-run lead evaporate in the late innings, Dixon delivered his fifth home run of the season - a solo shot to left field - and the Wildcats had their third lead of the ballgame.
This time, Arizona (25-13, 9-8) did not relinquish the lead, though Stanford (21-12, 8-6) made things difficult in the bottom of the ninth.
Closer Mathew Troupe, who had entered in the seventh and allowed the game-tying run in the eighth, issued a pair of one-out walks to Austin Slater and Brant Whiting. Troupe, however, was able to strike out Alex Blandino, who had homered in the third, before getting Zach Hoffpauir to ground out to end the game.
Dixon, who was 2-for-5 with two runs and a pair of RBI in the game, recorded the game's final out. He calmly fielded the grounder from Hoffpauir, before stepping on third for the game-ending force out.
After seeing a three-run lead slip away in a 4-3 loss on Friday night, the Wildcats nearly gave away a four-run lead on a sunny, if not warm, Saturday afternoon.
Arizona, which had taken an early 1-0 lead, was trailing 3-1 before it scored five runs in the fourth to claim a 6-2 edge. Then the Cardinal scored twice in the home half of the inning to cut the margin to one-run, and the Wildcats answered with three more in the top of the sixth to extend their lead to 9-5.
Stanford then scored the next four runs to tie the game, and reliever Daniel Starwalt was cruising along in relief. The right-hander shut out the Wildcats over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings respectively, before surrendering the lead in the final frame.
Starwalt collected his fourth strikeout of the game to begin the ninth, but his 1-0 pitch to Dixon landed in the trees that border that fence in left field.
The long ball was a successful counter to the Wildcats' small-ball offense, which for the second consecutive game squandered plenty of opportunities.
Arizona stranded nine runners on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Friday, and did not fare much better today. The club combined to hit 4-for-15 in RBI situations and left 13 runners on base in the one-run victory.
The Wildcats were aided by some wild pitching from the Cardinal hurlers. Starter Dean McArdle and relievers Marcus Brakemen and Logan James combined to give up nine earned runs on just seven hits, but issued eight total walks and a hit batsmen.
McArdle was rather solid over his first three innings, but the game slipped away in the fourth when, with two outs, Johnny Field hit a two-run double to right-center. Brakemen then took over and walked three of the four hitters he faced, while the other - Zach Gibbons - reached on an RBI infield single.
An inning later against James, pinch-hitter Scott Kingery led off with a walk and Joseph Maggi was hit by a pitch. One out later, Trent Gilbert drew a walk to load the bases, forcing a pitching change.
Dixon lined an RBI single to center off Starwalt and, one out later, Kevin Newman doubled in two runs with a line drive to left-center, giving the Wildcats their 9-5 lead after four-and-a-half innings.
Starwalt (L, 2-1) suffered the loss despite giving up only one over the final 4.2 innings out of the bullpen.
Arizona starter James Farris was not sharp, but grinded out 6.1 innings on the mound thanks to the offensive support. Farris was charged for eight runs - seven earned - on 10 hits, but he did not walk a batter and struck out four.
Despite missing the save opportunity, Troupe (W, 3-0) earned the win. He gave up the one run on two hits and two walks with a strikeout over the final 2.1 innings.
Brian Ragira paced the 12-hit Stanford attack with 4-for-5 day at the plate, which included three runs scored and two RBI.
Ragira's fourth hit, a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, plated Brian Guymon, who had reached on a two-out double against Troupe.
Austin Wilson, who went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI, followed Ragira, but Troupe induced an inning-ending pop out to strand the go-ahead run on base.
The rubber match of the three-game series is set for Sunday at a 2 p.m. (PDT) at Sunken Diamond. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks and will be broadcast on 1290 AM in Tucson, Ariz.
GAME NOTES: Arizona has won 10 of its last 12 games ... The Wildcats have scored first in 10 of those 12 games, posting a 9-1 record when they do so. The only loss was Friday's 4-3 defeat against Stanford ...The game lasted 3:43, the longest duration of Arizona's 38 games played this season ... Dixon's home run in the ninth handed Arizona its fourth last at-bat win of the season and its 14th such victory over the last two seasons ... Dixon claimed the club lead with his fifth homer of the season, breaking a tie with Johnny Field who accounts for the team's only other four home runs this season ... Field reached base for the for the 25th-straight game ... Kevin Newman extended his hitting streak to nine games ... Riley Moore has a base hit in each of the last five games and has reached base safely in 11-straight games ... Stanford entered the game with the fewest walks allowed in the Pac-12 Conference, but issued nine free passes in the contest ... The first two games of the series have each been decided by one run. Arizona is 8-5 in one-run games this season ... Joseph Maggi made his second start of the season at first base, while Jordan Berger was the starting designated hitter for the second time ... Trent Gilbert was 0-for-8 in the previous two ballgames, but went 2-for-3, drew three walked and scored two runs ... The Wildcats entered Saturday batting 1-for-12 with the bases loaded in the month of April. They went 2-for-5 with the bags packed on Saturday.
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