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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona avoids sweep in Tempe with 9-run seventh

    TEMPE – With its chances at hosting a regional quickly fading in the rearview mirror, the Arizona baseball team put together a huge two-out rally to stave off a sweep against ASU and keep hope alive that it might open the postseason at home next weekend.

    Still, Friday’s 14-5 win on the final day of the regular season could be too little, too late for the No. 13 Wildcats (40-15, 15-9 Pacific 10 Conference), who dropped the first two games of their series with the No. 7 Sun Devils (43-13, 19-5).

    “”It’s nice to win one, get out of here with one,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”But we played sloppy baseball, and that’s something we have to address. We need to clean some things up before we get into postseason, that’s for sure.””

    Regional sites are announced Sunday on ESPNews at 12:30 p.m.; the entire bracket will be revealed on ESPN Monday morning at 9:30.

    “”On Monday … when they tell you where you’re going and what you’re doing (and) if we’re home or away, it’s a whole new world,”” Lopez said.

    Should the Wildcats host a regional, it’d be their first since 1992. Arizona is 28-4 at home this season, compared to 11-11 on the road.

    Friday’s win clinched Arizona’s first 40-win season since 1989, thanks in large part to a nine-run seventh inning that saw 13 Wildcats go to the plate during a rally that started with UA third baseman Brad Glenn’s two-out single.

    “”It’s weird, even with two outs and nobody on, it can still happen,”” said Glenn, who added an RBI single later in the inning. “”I mean nine runs with two outs and nobody on? It’s just a funny thing.

    “”We needed to get something going because we didn’t want to come out of Tempe with a sweep loss. Luckily, we did get things going.””

    The Wildcats had just five hits in the inning, but ASU shortstop Greg Borders’ costly throwing error allowed two runs to score and helped Arizona extend the inning.

    “”We always talk about two-out hitting, good approach, what to do in that situation, and we came out on top that time,”” said UA first baseman C.J. Ziegler, who had a two-run single in the seventh and finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs. “”It’s what we needed to do: get hot at the right time.””

    UA closer Jason Stoffel then did the rest, allowing just one hit over the game’s final 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.

    “”It’s always nice, no matter who it is really, just to come and really put a damper on their energy and take them out of the game,”” Stoffel said.

    The freshman, who improved to 5-0 on the season, recorded the final out in the sixth before the Wildcats exploded in the seventh. Arizona’s rally took so long, Stoffel threw in the bullpen between innings to keep his arm fresh.

    “”I love scoring runs, but, hey, let’s do it a little quicker,”” Stoffel quipped afterwards.

    Lopez said he brought Stoffel into the game in the sixth to get him used a pitching format he expects to use in the postseason, which would utilize Stoffel and Arizona’s other closer, lefty Daniel Schlereth, from the sixth inning on.

    “”We have two arms there at the end that are pretty good, Schlereth and Stoffel,”” Lopez said. “”We could make it a five-inning game against some people in the postseason.””

    Spotted a 3-0 lead, UA starter David Coulon breezed through the first 4 1/3 innings, with eight strike outs against one walk. But after striking out ASU catcher Petey Paramore to open the fifth, Coulon hit a batter, walked another, then allowed five straight singles as the Sun Devils took a 5-3 lead.

    After Arizona’s rally made it 12-5 after seven, the Wildcats added two more in the ninth to cap the scoring, including right fielder Bill Rhinehart’s two-run double that gave him four RBIs on the day.

    C.J. Retherford (2-2), who took the brunt of the runs in the seventh inning, took the loss for ASU.

    Extra bases
    Lopez said he expects his second starter, Brad Mills, to be fully healthy and ready to make his start in regional play. Mills missed two starts late in the season with a strained back. … ASU coach Pat Murphy gave Pac-10 Player of the Year Brett Wallace and usual starter Ike Davis the day off. A number of other ASU regulars didn’t start, either, but made pinch-hit appearances.

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