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The Daily Wildcat

 

Pitching, defense implode early as New Mexico State beats Arizona baseball 12-9

Arizonas+Richie+Morales+gets+up+to+bat+during+the+baseball+game+against+New+Mexico+State+on+March+26+at+Hi+Corbett+Field.+The+final+score+was+9-12.
Danielle Main
Arizona’s Richie Morales gets up to bat during the baseball game against New Mexico State on March 26 at Hi Corbett Field. The final score was 9-12.

A late offensive push after a lightning delay wasn’t enough to overcome an early deficit as Arizona baseball lost its Tuesday night matchup against New Mexico State University 12-9.

After dropping two out of three games on the road last weekend to the University of Oregon in cold and rainy Eugene, the Wildcats returned home to an unusually cold and rainy Hi Corbett Field. Arizona kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Garen Caulfield hit a 410-foot solo home run to center field off New Mexico State starter Hayden Walker, his first home run of the season. However, New Mexico State responded in the top of the second inning, when Preston Godfrey smacked a home run of his own to right field off Arizona starter Anthony “Tonko” Susac, tying the game for the Aggies. Then, aided by a Damone Hale triple and a pair of doubles from Godfrey and Keith Jones II, the Aggies added 3 runs in the third inning to take an early 4-1 lead.

New Mexico State added 5 more runs on five hits in the fourth inning, including a bases-loaded triple from Godfrey that scored 3. The Wildcats committed two errors in the inning, including a potential one-out double-play ball that Mason White fumbled at shortstop, and forced in a run when pitcher Raul Garayzar hit a batter with the bases loaded.

“Obviously, they swung the bats really well,” Arizona head coach Chip Hale said after the game. “We didn’t make some plays that we needed to on defense, and I felt like our at-bats were lackluster. I don’t ever like to take away from what the other team does. They did a great job. They came in here prepared, and they kicked our butt early.”

After a 48-minute lightning delay in the top of the fifth inning that concentrated the few remaining fans in the seats underneath the ramada behind home plate, the teams traded 2-run innings to make the score 11-3 heading into the seventh inning. With two runners on and one out in the bottom of the seventh, White smacked a 416-foot 3-run home run to right center, tying the Arizona single-season record for home runs by a shortstop and cutting the Aggies’ lead to 5 runs. Later in the inning, Brendan Summerhill hit a triple down the right field line that scored a runner from first base, extending his on-base streak to 17 games and making it an 11-7 game after seven innings.

“We played much better [after the lightning delay],” Hale said. “I thought that the pitching got better and the defense got better, and obviously, the at-bats got better.”

After trading runs in the eighth inning, Summerhill smoked a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the ninth to pull the Wildcats within 3 runs. However, Hayden Lewis struck out Emilio Corona and induced a flyout from Easton Breyfogle to secure a 12-9 victory for New Mexico State, bringing them to 11-13 (1-2 in CUSA) on the season.

Susac was saddled with the loss, giving up 4 runs over three innings and bringing his season ERA to 10.29. The loss drops Arizona to 10-13 (4-5 in Pac-12) on the season.

Godfrey was a Wildcat killer, knocking in five RBIs and hitting for the cycle. Prior to Tuesday’s loss, Arizona hadn’t lost to New Mexico State since 2019, snapping a five-game winning streak over the program that included a 14-2 win in 2023.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Wildcats pitchers hadn’t allowed more than 4 runs in a game since their 9-2 loss to Loyola Marymount University on March 11, a seven-game stretch in which the Wildcats went just 3-4 due to inconsistent offense. On Tuesday night, they allowed 9 runs on 10 hits in the first four innings alone.

Looking ahead:

Tuesday’s game was the first of a five-game homestand at Hi Corbett Field, which continues this week with a three-game series against UCLA that kicks off on Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m., and concludes next Tuesday with a one-off matchup against the University of New Mexico.


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