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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

Looking back on the 2023 Arizona baseball season


Amelia McAnear

Arizona’s Chase Davis signs baseballs for fans after a game against the University of New Mexico on Tuesday, April 11, at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats went on to win the game 14-2. 

Nathaniel Levin

The Arizona baseball team finished the 2023 season with a record of 33-26 and 12-18 in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats finished runner-up in the Pac-12 Tournament before reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 42nd time in program history.

The 2023 season was highlighted by some big wins over teams that reached the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats defeated the No. 2 University of Tennessee, No. 3 Stanford University (twice), No. 10 Oregon State University, West Virginia University and the University of Washington. The Wildcats also took down No. 19 ASU twice and knocked them out of the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Wildcats put together a 12-3 start to open the season. However, their impressive start was immediately followed by a 2-10 stretch that included 10 straight losses against Pac-12 opponents. The Wildcats went 16-10 (10-8 in Pac-12 play) over their final games to close the regular season with a record of 30-23 (12-18 in Pac-12 play). 

The Wildcats would squeak their way into the Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 8 seed before a magnificent run that included wins over No. 1-seed Stanford, No. 2-seed Oregon State and No. 5-seed ASU before falling to the No. 6-seed University of Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. However, their run was enough to earn them a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 42nd time in program history

Unfortunately, the NCAA Tournament did not go Arizona’s way, as the Wildcats lost to TCU 12-4 and Santa Clara University 9-3, bouncing them from the tournament after only two games

Wildcat offense:

The Wildcats had one of the nation’s better offenses, ranking inside the top 15 in batting average, hits and runs. The Wildcat offense was led by Chase Davis, Kiko Romero, Mac Bingham, Emilio Corona, Tony Bullard, Nik McClaughry and Mason White

Davis led the Wildcats in several offensive categories including batting average (.362), OPS (1.231), runs (71), home runs (21), slugging (.742), OBP (.489) and walks (43). His success earned him several accolades including Pac-12 All-Conference Team, Pac-12 Baseball All-Tournament Team and Pac-12 Tournament MVP. He also was named to two All-American second teams on Wednesday, June 14, and Thursday, June 15. Additionally, Davis finished his Wildcat career with 39 home runs, which places him third all-time in Arizona program history

Romero was another star of the Arizona offense, leading the Wildcats in home runs (21), RBI (89) and total bases (168) while ranking second in several other categories including slugging ( .724), hits (80), OBP (.441) and OPS (1.165). Romero’s 89 RBIs broke Ron Hassey’s previous single-season record of 86 RBIs which was set 49 years ago. Romero’s impressive season helped earn a spot on Collegiate Baseball’s All-American Second Team and Pac-12 All-Conference.

In addition to the success of both Davis and Romero, the Wildcat offense had five additional players with 35 or more RBIs and a batting average over .310: Bingham (10 HR, 51 RBI, .360, Pac-12 All-Conference), Corona (11 HR, 44 RBI, .336), Bullard (12 HR, 42 RBI, .328), White (10 HR, 35 RBI, .313, Freshman All-American) and McClaughry (4 HR, 39 RBI, .325, Pac-12 All-Conference). In addition to his hitting, McClaughry was a defensive wizard at shortstop, earning him Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defensive team.

Wildcat pitching:

While Arizona saw plenty of success offensively, the same could not be said for their pitching as the Wildcats had a team ERA of 5.97, which places them 157th in the nation

The Wildcat rotation was led by Bradon Zastrow (6-5, 5.28 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 56 SO), Aiden May (5-3, 6.33 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 77 SO) and Cam Walty (5-1, 6.30 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 49 SO). The Wildcat rotation struggled all season and was never able to get into a groove. TJ Nichols (3-5, 8.27 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 52 SO) was named to the Preseason All-Pac-12 Team but struggled from the start, resulting in him being removed from the rotation mid-season and placed into the bullpen

In addition to the rotation’s struggles, the Wildcat bullpen had its struggles as well, but there were a few bright spots: Dawson Netz (3.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 27 SO), Eric Orloff (4.37 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 26 SO), Casey Hintz (5.60 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 23 SO) and Jackson Kent (5.71 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 33 SO).

Memorable games:

1. Arizona defeats No. 4 Stanford 21-20 (10 innings) (May 14)

Five lead changes including two ties were among the highlights of a game in which the Wildcats scored a season-high 21 runs. The Wildcats led by 7 runs twice throughout the game including in the eighth inning. However, Stanford, while trailing 18-11, scored 7 unanswered runs in the eighth and ninth innings to force extra innings. In the 10th inning, Corona launched a 3-run home run, giving the Wildcats a 21-18 lead. Stanford once again threatened in the bottom of the 10th, but the Wildcats held off the late rally to squeak away with the 21-20 victory

2. No. 8-seed Arizona defeats No. 2-seed Oregon State 13-12 (May 24)

The Wildcats trailed 4-0 early but slowly cut the lead down to 2 runs by the end of the fifth inning, as they trailed 8-6. However, the Wildcats scored 6 runs in the sixth inning to take a 12-8 lead. The inning was highlighted by an RBI double by Bullard, a 3-run homer by Romero, and an RBI triple by White. However, Oregon State rallied late to tie things up at 12-12 before Romero hit a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Wildcats into the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament

3. Arizona defeats No. 19 ASU 20-0 (April 19)

The Wildcats shut out the Sun Devils 20-0, marking Arizona’s widest margin of victory over ASU and the second-widest margin of victory all-time in the series. Arizona jumped out early and never looked back, collecting 19 hits and five homers. Wildcat starting pitcher Walty pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out seven Sun Devil batters before Derek Drees and George Arias Jr. pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings

4. Arizona defeats No. 2 Tennessee 3-1 (Feb. 17)

Arizona kicked off the season with an upset victory over No. 2 Tennessee in Scottsdale, Arizona. After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the Wildcats would score 1 run each in both the bottom of the first and second to take a 2-1 lead. Tennessee was held scoreless the remainder of the game as Nichols and the Wildcat bullpen had one of their best performances of the entire season. The Wildcat offense was led by Bingham (2 RBIs) and Bullard (1 RBI) as Arizona defeated Tennessee 3-1 on opening night

5. No. 8-seed Arizona defeats No. 1-seed Stanford 14-4 (7) (May 26)

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Wildcats put up 8 runs on six hits in the second inning against Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Quinn Mathews. A few innings later, Davis obliterated a grand slam, blowing the game wide open as the Wildcats cruised to a 14-4 victory in the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals. Wildcat starting pitcher Zastrow pitched a complete game, giving up only 4 runs while striking out five Stanford batters. The Wildcats’ upset win over Stanford ultimately led to their selection into the NCAA Tournament.

Follow Nathaniel Levin on Twitter

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