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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

‘Cats fall in last at bat to Rebels

Rodney Haas / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rodney Haas
Rodney Haas / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wildcat players stood last night waiting to pour out of the dugout to celebrate a walk-off win.

Unfortunately, their comeback attempt ended on a called third strike to sophomore right fielder Steve Selsky with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, as University of Nevada, Las Vegas defeated Arizona (3-3) 12-10.

“”It’s just one of those games back and forth the whole time,”” said junior second baseman Bryce Ortega. “”You just hope you’ve got one more at the end or guys can come through with just that one hit. … They got it, we didn’t.””

Although they scored ten runs on thirteen hits, the Wildcats couldn’t capitalize on several scoring chances and finished the game with 11 runners left on base, resulting in their third straight loss.

Head coach Andy Lopez gave freshman Stephen Manthei the nod Tuesday night for his first start of the year. The Las Vegas, Nev., native could not record an out and surrendered five runs before sophomore Bryce Bandilla was called upon to stop the bleeding in the first inning.

Facing a 5-0 deficit right off the bat, however, Arizona didn’t fold.

The Wildcats answered the Runnin’ Rebels’ big first inning by throwing up a crooked number of their own, cutting the deficit to one run after a three-run shot by freshman center fielder Joey Rickard when the score was 5-1.

Arizona scored four runs in the inning, reigniting a sputtering offense that scored just five runs in its last 16 innings. Lopez said he was pleased with the team offensively, but pitching remained a sore thumb.

“”One of the standards in pitching is if your team scores, you make sure the other team doesn’t, and I’m not so sure we did such a good job of that today,”” Lopez said. “”We can’t be giving up eight, 10 and 12 runs in our last three outings.””

The Wildcats matched UNLV (7-2) with the score at 7-7 in the third inning and the game remained tied until the Rebels retook the lead with a three-run fifth inning.

Down 10-8 in the seventh inning, Arizona put together a rally that came off an error by the UNLV third baseman. Junior Josh Garcia delivered an RBI single, and freshman Alex Mejia forced home the tying run on a groundout to second base.

Ortega, who is mired in an early-season slump, came to the plate with a chance to give the Wildcats the lead with two out in the seventh. He struck a ground ball to the right side that was bobbled by UNLV’s second baseman, and was called out on a bang-bang play at first base, which drew boos from the crowd and an argument from Lopez.

“”I’m going through one of those hitting phases right now where that’s going to be called out for me,”” Ortega said. “”I thought I was safe but it’s just one of those things. He didn’t see it that way.””

Freshman reliever Nick Cunningham took the mound with one out and two runners on base in the top of the eighth inning, but gave up a tie breaking RBI single, handing UNLV the late 11-10 lead. The Rebels tacked on one more in the eighth and never looked back. 

Things got testy after the game between UA and UNLV after the game. A pack of players from both teams formed behind the pitcher’s mound. Players exchanged words and shoves before umpires and coaches broke up the crowd.

“”Someone said ‘Get off our field’ and everyone just started going at it,”” Bandilla said. “”Nothing really big, just words exchanged … we’ll get back at them (on the field) tomorrow.””

 

Ortega’s struggles continue

Although it is still early in the season, UA baseball’s junior leadoff hitter and second baseman Bryce Ortega is struggling to find his way at the plate.

After turning in a .324 batting average that helped earn him earn First Team All Pacific 10 Conference last season, Ortega is now 4-for-25 through six games this season, including an 0-for-6 performance Tuesday night.

“”When I’ve taken (batting practice) and stuff like that, I feel good and when I get in the box I try to do some things like small game,”” Ortega said. “”I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes and I feel like some of my swings haven’t been so bad, but they’re just not falling now. I can’t lose my confidence that’s all.””

—Mike Schmitz

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