You’ve got to be able to score runs in midweek games and the Arizona Wildcats couldn’t get anything going in an ugly display against Arizona State.
That’s what I would have written if Tuesday’s contest ended after five innings.
Things turned around in a big way for the home team and the UA rallied to score eight runs in its final three at-bats to beat ASU by a score of 10-9. The late-night drama produced the Cats’ best 2013 win to date.
The Sun Devils got off to a fast start against UA starting pitcher Nick Cunningham, who was seeing his first action since Mar. 29. After five innings the Wildcats had only three hits off ASU starter Zak Miller and the Devils had a 7-2 lead. Arizona State tacked on another run in the top of the 6th to make the margin six, the Cats’ largest deficit of the night.
From there the Hi Corbett Heroes picked up six hits, five walks and cashed in on three ASU errors to score three in the 6th, three in the 7th and a pair in the 8th take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five season series.
This particular meeting was a non-conference game that doesn’t count in the Pac-12 standings but don’t tell that to the 5,396 fans in attendance, including a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”-singing Dick Tomey.
It looked like a Little League game at times with guys running all over the basepaths as throws went into the bullpen or toward the dugout. In the 6th inning Arizona scored two runs on ASU second baseman James McDonald‘s two-out throwing error. In the 7th Scott Kingery came around from first on a single when Joe Maggi got caught in a rundown between first and second, signaling for Kingery to make a dash for home. In the 8th it was Brandon Dixon taking extra bases, stealing third and scoring when R.J. Ybarra’s throw went into left field.
Any win over your rival is sweet and snatching away one they thought they had won is delectable.
From a big-picture standpoint the most important thing is this was Arizona’s first win over a ranked team this year. Beating good teams is imperative as the Wildcats continue to try and enhance their bubblish tournament resume.
UA pitcher Mathew Troupe returned to the mound for the first time since being pulled last Saturday at Washington State without recording an out. The clean-cut closer, having just shaved off his trademark beard, had a clean appearance for the first time in a month to the day, Mar. 16 against Oregon State.
Razor’s edge = Rivalry edge? Just like Tuesday’s comeback, it might not make much sense, but it sure looked good.
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The Cats are off to a great start this week in getting into more of these polls:
Arizona inched up in one poll and reentered two others. Winning eight of nine (now nine of ten) will do that to you.
Now for this week’s conference series (plus one):
#24.6 ARIZONA 24-12 / 8-7) at #23.8 Stanford (20-11 / 7-5)
The games on both Friday and Sunday are slated to be televised on Pac-12 Networks. Game times are 7 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2 p.m.
#11.8 UCLA (23-10 / 7-5) at #8.2 Oregon (28-8 / 12-3)
USC (14-22 / 6-9) at Utah (15-17 / 4-11)
#5.2 OSU (28-6 / 10-2) at Washington (9-25 / 3-9)
WSU (18-16 / 5-7) at Cal (16-20 / 5-10)
Valparaiso (13-21) at #15.2 ASU (22-11 / 8-7)
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Arizona ace Konner Wade showed signs of regaining his May 2012 form when he came within one out of a complete game against Cal but he took a step backwards against Washington State last week, allowing seven runs (five earned) in seven innings.
Now he squares off against a guy who’s on the shortest of short lists of best players in the college game. Stanford pitcher Mark Appel is the Andrew Luck of baseball in that he was a top-10 draft pick last year but he returned to school to dominate another season.
One more road trip before the UA can come home for a couple weeks. If the Wildcats can take care of business at Stanford they could put up a really big win number before leaving Tucson again. It will be a postseason-like atmosphere in Palo Alto as both teams are fighting to ensure a ticket to the tournament.
Nine wins in 10 games is exactly what Arizona needed. Now, after a big rally against ASU, the Cats look to keep their season rally going.
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