Arizona baseball wins third consecutive series over Washington State

Mark+Armao+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ABiomedical+engineer+Bijan+Najafi+holds+a+SmartSox+prototype.+The+socks+contain+fiber-optic+threads+that+can+detect+the+precursors+of+diabetic+foot+ulcers.

Mark Armao

Mark Armao / Arizona Daily Wildcat Biomedical engineer Bijan Najafi holds a SmartSox prototype. The socks contain fiber-optic threads that can detect the precursors of diabetic foot ulcers.

Luke Della

Sophomore Tyler Crawford pitched Arizona’s first complete game of the season as the Wildcats won their third consecutive series with a 7-3 win over Washington State Sunday afternoon in the series rubber match.

If not for some early inning struggles, Crawford (4-1) would have pitched a complete game shutout. The lefty gave up nine hits and three earned runs in the game, with six hits coming in the first and all three runs coming in the second inning.

“[Crawford] has been huge for us,” second baseman Trent Gilbert said. “He pounds the zone for strikes and can go long innings.”

Crawford received help from the Arizona (23-12, 8-7 Pac-12) offense with some balance scoring up and down the lineup. The Wildcats collected 10 total hits Sunday and three Arizona batters, Gilbert, Kevin Newman, and Riley Moore, had multiple hits.

The Wildcats, who started the Pac-12 conference play on a six-game losing streak, are over .500 for the first time ever as they’ve won eight of their last nine games. Execution and moving runners over has been the key to Arizona’s quick turn around.

“We’ve really changed our approach,” Gilbert said about the offense since starting 0-6 in conference play. “We’re more focused on execution hit and runs and moving runners over, small ball.”

Rain and snow flurries hit eastern Washington and made things a little difficult for the Wildcats.

Following the second inning, Crawford settled down, as he only needed 86 pitches to capture his first career complete game.

Crawford got an early lead from his offense when Arizona jumped out of the gate in the top of the first. Two singles, two walks and sacrifice fly by third baseman Brandon Dixon gave Crawford a three-nothing lead before he even threw a pitch.

The lead, though, disappeared after the second, but from the third through the seventh inning, Crawford faced the minimum number of batters and kept Arizona in the game.

Still tied at three, the Wildcats broke the tie in the sixth inning. Highlighted by a RBI double from Joseph Maggi, Arizona scored four runs on three hits and a sacrifice fly from center fielder Johnny Field in the half inning.

The four runs were three more than Crawford needed, as he continued to blow by Cougar hitters. He only faced one over the minimum and didn’t allow one Washington State runner to reach third base after recapturing the lead.

“It’s really important to have a guy like Crawford who can come in on Sunday and win a deciding game like today,” Gilbert said. “It’s been great how he’s stepped up. Now with the dominating Friday and Saturday guys we can add a Sunday guy that makes us even more tough.”

Even though a sweep over the Cougars was what Gilbert and the Wildcats were hoping for, Gilbert said he was still satisfied and happy with taking two out of three on the road, especially in the stormy conditions.

“It was a good road series win for us, especially with the conditions we had to face,” Gilbert said. “I think we’re still not there yet, but we’re starting to hit our stride.”

Arizona will be back in action Tuesday, as they host rival Arizona State at Hi Corbett Field. This could be a pivotal game, as both teams are tied in conference standings.