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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball falls to UC Riverside 6-5

Jen Pimentel
Arizona outflieder Zach Gibbons (23) races toward first base during Arizona’s 11-5 victory of St. Mary’s on March 2.

It looked early on that Arizona would cruise to victory against UC Riverside after taking an early 3-0 lead, but the Highlanders fought back to steal the game 6-5.

Left-hander Alfonso Rivas looked sharp the first 4 innings, but the Highlanders caught onto him in the 5th and took advantage of two costly errors by Cody Ramer and JJ Matijevic to comeback and win the game.

All of the Wildcats’ three runs came in the second inning. Bobby Dalbec led the inning off with a walk, and stole second base with one out and Zach Gibbons at the plate.

Down 0-2, Gibbons lined the ball to left center for a single to drive in Dalbec. Gibbons has reached in all 24 bases this season, and has reached base in 28 consecutive games dating back to last season.

Oliva continued the rally, hitting a single to left. The Wildcats then caught the Riverside defense off guard, executing a perfect suicide squeeze play with Justin Behnke at the plate. Gibbons scored on the play, and Oliva was able to score all the way from 2nd.

“It’s a perfect situation for something like that,” Behnke
said. “On that play we’re expecting two (runs). We got two guys on base that
really know how to run, you just get it down and it works out perfect.”

Rivas held the Highlanders scoreless in the first four innings, giving up one base runner in each inning, but not allowing any of them to score.

Rivas would run into trouble in the 5th though, giving up a leadoff walk to pinch hitter Mark Contreras after being up 0-2 and a scorching double to Fernandez. Arizona head coach Jay Johnson decided to take Rivas out, and put in right-hander Robby Medel with one out.

“We asked a lot out of him tonight, it just got hard because
he was throwing so good. With as many left handed hitters as they had, I think
he’ll set up good against teams like that,” Johnson said. “He’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing moving

Rivas stayed in the lineup as the DH.

Medel got Farris to strike out, but Worden singled to left with two outs to cut the Wildcat lead to 1. Cisneros came up and hit a bloop infield single and put the tying run into scoring position. Johnson then called on left-hander Cody Moffett to match up against left-handed hitter Drake Zarate.

Moffett was unable to retire Zarate, and walked him to load the bases for pinch hitter Cody Sporrer.

Moffett got Sporrer to hit a ground ball to Ramer, but Ramer’s throw was in the dirt to 1b Ryan Aguilar. The ball got away, and two runs came around to give Riverside a 4-3 lead.

“I knew I was going have to get a quick transfer and get it
to first base so, I saw it, and I throw it on the run, and I saw it start low,
and then I saw it get by him (Aguilar),” Ramer said. “I just got disappointed
in myself because I know that play should have been made, and those runs shouldn’t
even gotten across the board.”

The Highlanders would add on two more un earned runs in the 6th. Moffett got Contreras to strike out and Colvin to fly out, but Johnson put in Nate Bannister after Moffett walked two in a row. Worden grounded the ball to Matijevic, but he bobbled the ball and it rolled into the outfield, which allowed Fernandez to score to make the lead 5-3. A wild pitch then allowed Farris to score, extending their lead to 6-3.

“We played great defense to this point in the season, and we
didn’t tonight,” Johnson said. “We’ll get back at it tomorrow, change some
things we do in pregame batting practice just to get the infield going a little
more of a game speed.”

The Wildcat offense went quiet, but looked to make another late game comeback after Aguilar and Rivas led off the 8th inning with back to back to singles. It was not meant to be though with the heart of the order coming up, as Dalbec struck out and Matijevic popped out.

The Wildcats would cut the lead to two on a wild pitch that advanced Aguilar and Rivas to 2nd and 3rd and an infield single by Gibbons.

Arizona began a two out rally in the ninth inning after Ramer hit a single. He took second base, and Aguilar drove him home. Rivas came up as the winning run, but struck out on three pitches.

The loss is a disappointing one for the Wildcats, after taking two out three in dramatic fashion from UCLA over the weekend. They will get another shot at UC Riverside tomorrow, and then will head to Utah to play a three game series against Utah and one game against BYU.

Follow Brandon James on Twitter

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