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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Offense powers baseball

    Defense may win championships, but it was offense that played the largest role for Arizona on college baseball’s opening weekend.

    The No. 5 Wildcats (2-1) managed to put up 23 runs over three games to pick up their fourth straight opening series win against Georgia (1-2).

    After a frustrating 9-7 opening day loss, Arizona responded behind a strong effort from starting pitcher David Coulon to even the series with a 7-1 victory Saturday.

    In the rubber game, a trio of wild momentum swings made for an entertaining contest in which Arizona managed to narrowly outlast the Bulldogs for a 9-8 series-clinching win.

    “”Getting those two wins was big,”” first baseman C.J. Ziegler said. “”I think a lot of guys stepped up, our pitchers especially.””

    In the early going, a pair of Arizona errors helped Georgia gain a 4-0 advantage through six. But in the seventh, Arizona’s
    offense awoke.

    After pinch hitter Mike Weldon put the Wildcats on the board with a two-out, two-run single, Ziegler strung one down the left field line with the bases loaded to give Arizona a 5-4 lead.

    “”I told myself, ‘Don’t make this bigger than it is,’ “” Zielger said. “”I got a ball middle-in and just connected.

    “”I would have liked it up and in because I probably would have hit it out, but I’m not complaining.””

    Arizona continued its offensive attack in the eighth, adding four more runs.

    But despite the cushion, the Wildcats’ day was far from over as a pair of ninth-inning homers made it a two-run game.

    After two pitching changes, closer Jason Stoffel finally put an end to a nearly disastrous ninth inning in which three pitchers allowed four runs on four hits leaving one man stranded.

    Mike Colla, who entered the game in relief of starting pitcher Ryan Perry, earned the win, his first of the season.

    While the Wildcats managed to escape Athens with a victory, defense became a source of concern throughout the weekend.

    Arizona committed eight errors in the series, including three in the series clincher.

    Other than Saturday’s game, errors also resulted in big leads early for the Bulldogs.

    In the opening game of the series Georgia used a key error by Ziegler to keep a first inning rally alive. The Bulldogs touched up starting pitcher Preston Guilmet (0-1) for eight runs (four earned) with three of them following Ziegler’s miscue.

    Later in the game, catcher Dwight Childs dropped a throw at the plate by third baseman Dillon Baird that allowed Georgia to add another run in its eventual two-run
    victory Friday.

    “”It’s something we know we need to improve on,”” Zielger said of the errors. “”But it’s not something big or something we can’t work with. We know what we need to do, we just need to work every time we get out on the field to get better.””

    Another pair of errors followed Saturday. Luckily for the Wildcats, Saturday starter David Coulon (1-0) managed to keep the errors from deterring a winning effort.

    Through five innings of work, Coulon was impressive, allowing only one run off a solo shot from Georgia shortstop Gordon
    Beckham while collecting eight strikeouts while allowing only two walks.

    Fellow southpaw Eric Berger held the Bulldogs to just one run in a relief effort before closer Jason Stoffel entered to shut the door and secure Arizona’s first win of the season.

    “”All the pitchers did a great job this weekend,”” Ziegler said. “”Perry and Coulon and all those guys really came out ready to pitch and ready to play; we just followed.””

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