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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Offense leads Arizona baseball to 6-2 win over NMST

Alex McIntyre

Arizona outfielder Zach Gibbons (23) hits during Arizona’s 6-2 win against New Mexico State at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday. The two teams conclude their two-game series today at 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field.

Another solid hitting performance propelled Arizona to a 6-2 win over New Mexico State (1-11) on Tuesday night at Hi Corbett Field.

Jared Oliva led the Wildcats (11-4) with his bat, going 3-4 with two runs and an RBI. The left fielder was a strong contributor to Arizona’s 13-hit night and bumped his batting average up to .412, joining Scott Kingery as the only Wildcats batting over .400 this season.

Oliva, who redshirted last year and is one of the more surprising Arizona leaders this season, got his 12th start.

“I’m really just trying to stick with your same approach,” Oliva said. “Good pitcher or bad pitcher, they’re going to give you a good pitch to hit sometime at that at bat.”

Austin Schnabel started on the mound for Arizona and gave up two runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings against the Aggies. His start on Friday at Mississippi State lasted just 2.2 innings and yielded two runs on four hits, while he gave up eight runs on 13 hits during his start on Feb. 20. The combination of the two has moved him out of the Friday night spotlight.

“Cody Hamlin will be pitching on Friday now,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “But we’ll get [Schnabel] back on track. He knows he’s an asset to us, and he’ll be good for us in the pen.”

The Aggies never held a lead in the game despite their eight hits. Their best chance came in the first inning with the bases loaded and only one out. NMSU’s Michael Paulson, Quinnton Mack and Derek Umphres hit three-consecutive singles, but Schnabel got out of the jam by throwing back-to-back strikeouts to skate by untouched. That first inning lasted 35 minutes.

After Schnabel got out of the top half of the first, Paulson took his time facing five Arizona opponents, including a five-minute battle with Riley Moore.

Paulson, who took the loss, came into the game having given up four runs and three hits in just one inning of work on the season. The lefty threw for five innings and gave up four of Arizona’s six runs.

“You just have to go at it every time like they’re the best pitcher in the country,” Oliva said. “You can’t play down to your competition.”

Nathan Bannister earned the win for the Wildcats after giving up only one hit and recording two strikeouts in 3.1 innings of relief. Bannister was another prospective starter for Arizona but has now assumed the role of Lopez’s go-to reliever.

“He’s a good net right now because if one of the starters falters early in the game, we can go right to Bannister,” Lopez said. “He’s comfortable with that.”

Bannister said he likes being able to have the chance to pitch every day rather than having to focus on coming in as a starter. He said he sees each batter the same, even after struggling against No. 9 Mississippi State last weekend.

“Some teams can sneak up on you a bit and scare you, especially after playing good competition this weekend,” Bannister said. “We just have to play the game, whether we’re up 10-0 or down by 10, and have the same mentality.”

Arizona finishes the mid-week series against New Mexico State at Hi Corbett Field today at 6 p.m. Xavier Borde(2-0) will start on the mound for the Wildcats.


Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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