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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball: Wildcats win Lafayette Regional, advance to Super Regionals

Stan Liu / Arizona Athletics
Arizona second baseman Cody Ramer lunges to catch the ball during Arizona’s 8-3 victory over Abilene Christian on Wednesday, May 25.

The UA baseball team went 4-1 in the Lafayette Regional including winning three win-or-go-home games, earning the Wildcats a trip to the Super Regionals where they’ll face Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi for a three-game series with the winner advancing to the College World Series.

Here’s how the Wildcats’ successful trip to Lafayette, Louisiana went down:

Game 1: Arizona 7, Sam Houston State 3

In its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012, Arizona defeated Sam Houston State 7-3 in the opening game of the regional.

Initially a 2 p.m EST start time, severe thunderstorms in the area forced a five-hour rain delay pushing first pitch back until 7 p.m. When the game finally got underway, Arizona would strike first in the bottom of the 4th. On an 0-2 count with Zach Gibbons and Alfonso Rivas on base, Ryan Aguilar hit a three-run homer to right field, putting the Wildcats up 3-0.

The next batter, JJ Matijevic, homered to right, extending Arizona’s lead to 4-0 — and the Wildcats weren’t done yet.

Arizona’s offensive flurry continued into the bottom of the 6th, where it’d score three more runs. Bobby Dalbec homered to center to make it 5-0, then Jared Olivia hit an RBI triple to make it 6-0.

Olivia eventually scored on a suicide squeeze by Louis Boyd, giving Arizona a comfortable 7-0 lead.

Nathan Bannister made the start on the mound for the Wildcats and kept the Bearkats in check. He tossed seven shutout innings and only allowed four hits.

The Bearkats scored three runs off Rio Gomez late in the game, and UA head coach Jay Johnson turned to pitcher Bobby Dalbec to close it out and he did just that, getting the final outs to seal the 7-3 victory.

Game 2: Louisiana-Lafayette 10, Arizona 3

The script flipped for Arizona in the second game.

JC Cloney got the start for Arizona against a potent Louisiana-Lafayette offense and he struggled from the get-go. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored three early runs and eventually chased Cloney out of the game after just 3 innings. In total, Cloney allowed seven runs on seven hits.

The Wildcats found themselves down 7-1 through four innings, and they couldn’t claw back.

A two-run homer by Cody Ramer cut Arizona’s deficit to 7-3 in the top of the 5th, but the Ragin’ Cajuns responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame, then tacked on another run in the bottom of the 6th, pushing their lead to 10-3 which would be the final score.

Game 3: Arizona 6, Sam Houston State 5

A second loss would mean Arizona would be eliminated from the regional, but it’d avoid it in game three, defeating Sam Houston State 6-5 on Sunday night.

Sam Houston State took a lead in the second inning thanks to an RBI double by Josh Biles. But that’d be the team’s only run until the bottom of the 5th.

Meanwhile, Zach Gibbons hit an RBI single to knot things up 1-1 in the 3rd inning. Arizona then took a 3-1 lead after RBI doubles by Matijevic and Cesar Salazar.

The Wildcats added three more runs, while Sam Houston State added one of its own to make it 6-2 heading into the 7th inning.

That’s where Arizona starting pitcher Bobby Dalbec ran into trouble — giving up three runs, allowing the Bearkats to make it a 6-5 game.

However, the Wildcats were able to prevent any further damage and held onto to win by that score.

Game 4: Arizona 6 , Louisiana-Lafayette 3

Needing a win to keep its season alive, Arizona beat Louisiana-Lafayette 6-3 to avoid elimination.

The Wildcats set the tone early in the bottom of the first when Ryan Aguilar knocked in two runs to put Arizona up 2-0. A sacrifice bunt by Dalbec scored Rivas later in the inning to make it 3-0.

The Wildcats had a 6-0 lead through four innings, and that was more than enough for Nate Bannister who pitched seven innings and allowed just three runs.

Lousiana-Lafayette loaded the bases in the 8th inning, but Ginkel came in and prevented any damage. He threw a clean 9th inning to get a save and force a final, deciding game.

Game 5: Arizona 3, Louisiana-Lafayette 1

Arizona emerged victorious in the win-or-go-home rematch against the Ragin’ Cajuns, defeating them 3-1.

Much like the previous game, Arizona found its groove offensively immediately in the bottom of the first. Ryan Aguilar doubled to right and Zach Gibbons, who singled in the inning, scored all the way from first on a throwing error. Aguilar, who advanced to third on the error, scored later in the inning on a wild pitch, giving Arizona a 2-0 lead.

Cody Ramer drove in Louis Boyd with an RBI single in the 2nd inning to make it a 3-0 Arizona lead.

Kevin Ginkel started on the mound for the Wildcats and was able to silence the Ragin’ Cajuns’ offense. He pitched 5.2 innings, allowing just four hits and one run. Kyle Clement’s solo homer would be Louisiana-Lafayette’s only run of the ballgame.

Cameron Ming relieved Ginkel in the 6th inning, and would preserve Arizona’s 3-1 lead, allowing just one baserunner in the final 3.1 innings.

As Regional Champions, the Wildcats will now head to Starkville, Mississippi for Super Regionals. They’ll take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a three-game series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series.

Game 1 of the three-game series is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. MST, and it will be televised on ESPN2.

Game 2 will take place on Saturday and Game 3 (if necessary) would be on Sunday.

Follow Ben White on Twitter.

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