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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Farris and Wildcats baseball hold off USF, 5-2

No. 10 Arizona (10-2) set the tone early and scored just enough runs to defeat the University of San Francisco (4-7) 5-2 on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats scored four runs off four hits in the first inning of Saturday’s game, and behind a strong performance by Arizona pitcher James Farris (3-0), the Wildcats were able to coast to the ninth inning.

“I really thought James [Farris] did a good job as the game went on, which is an encouraging theme; you want to see your guys get stronger,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “We got a good start against a talented pitcher, but obviously the first inning gave us a little of a cushion.”

Farris gave up six hits and two earned runs in 8.0 innings of work. The Arizona strikeout leader padded his stats with six more in his third start of the season. He now has 27 strikeouts on the season.

By only giving up two runs, the Saturday starter lowers his earned run average to 2.59, the lowest out of the three weekend starters.

“My location was there and I had a little something behind the fastball,” Farris said about his first two innings.

The starter lost some control in the third inning, as he gave up three hits and a run to the Don hitters, but he managed to find himself in the fourth and carry it through to the eighth.

“I kind of hit a wall or got dead arm in the third inning,” Farris said. “I think how I pitched in the third inning kind of rubbed off on our hitters and the tempo I set really messed them up.”

Going up against a future draft pick pitcher, Alex Balong, Farris said after the game that he had told himself he wasn’t going to be outshone by Balong and wanted to at least match him — which he did.

Offensively, the violent Arizona bats were calm Saturday afternoon. Besides the four runs and four hits in the opening inning, the Wildcats were limited to four hits for the rest of the game and just two walks.

Arizona third baseman Brandon Dixon entered Saturday’s game with seven consecutive hits, and with one out in the first inning, Dixon started his day with a single to left field to extend the streak to eight consecutive at-bats. Dixon later scored in the inning off a two RBI triple by second baseman Trent Gilbert, his fifth triple of the season.

However, Dixon’s streak ended at eight, as he grounded out in his next two at-bats. The NCAA record for most consecutive hits is 14.

Dixon’s day wasn’t be over yet, though, as he singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. He later moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Gilbert and then stole third before scoring on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Kevin Newman to give the Wildcats the final score of 6-2.

Throughout the game, Newman seemed unfazed by Balong. The freshman was 2-3 Saturday with two RBIs.

“Since I’m hitting behind guys who always get on, I need to always be ready to come through,” Newman said. “Considering who we’re going to be playing in the conference, I didn’t think [Balong] was that great, but it’s good to get that experience.”

Arizona will look to go for the three game sweep of San Francisco on Sunday at noon, as starter Stephen Manthei (1-0) takes the hill for the Wildcats.

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