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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats blow past Cougars in opening game of series 8-0


The offensive outburst the Wildcats were hoping for came
later than expected, but the Arizona baseball team caught fire after scoring
seven runs from the sixth inning on to win its series opener Friday night against
Washington State 8-0.

The Wildcats got an exceptional performance on the mound
from Nathan Bannister who threw eight shutout innings while striking out a
season high of seven batters and giving up three hits. Bannister also set a new
season high with innings pitched and pitches thrown.

Bannister, however, struggled early on, but was able to avoid
the damage by striking out two and forcing a flyball to left to escape a bases
loaded jam with no outs in the first inning. It was smooth sailing from there
for the right hander who only allowed one runner to reach third base over the
next seven innings.

The senior has been spectacular at home this season,
improving his record to 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA at Hi Corbett Field.

“He was as good as it gets,” head coach Jay
Johnson said about Johnson. “Tip of the game to him in the first inning and he
just got stronger as the game went on.”

The Wildcats’ offense was not able to scrap any runs until
the fifth inning when Justin Behnke walked and later reached third from a bunt
by Jared Oliva. Cesar Salazar then drove in Behnke with a fielder’s choice to
break the 0-0 tie.

UA was able to extend the lead in the sixth after Zach
Gibbons doubled to lead off the inning and Alfonso Rivas walked to put two men
on with no outs. After both runners advanced a base, Johnson put in Kyle Lewis
to pinch hitter who delivered a double to plate Gibbons and take a 2-0 lead.
The next batter Behnke laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Alfonso Rivas
from third.

After an RBI sacrifice fly from Ryan Aguilar in the seventh,
the Wildcats erupted for four runs in the eighth via a walk by Cody Ramer,
sacrifice fly by Oliva and two RBI single by Cesar Salazar.

Johnson opted for freshman pitcher Michael Flynn to close
out the game instead of leaving Bannister in because of a season-high pitch count
from the senior right hander.

The offensive slow start by the Wildcats could be attributed
to the electric arm of WSU starter Ian Hamilton, who went 5.1 while allowing
three runs on seven hits.

“We were going against a guy who’s going to pitch in the big
leagues,” Johnson said of Hamilton. “You could really see the
electric stuff. The stuff explodes. It’s not just hard it’s in the zone then
out of the zone or out of the zone then in the zone.”

After Friday’s win, the Wildcats improved to 19-11 on the
season and 4-6 in Pac-12 Conference play. UA has a chance to win the series Saturday night
when it plays the Cougars at 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett.


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