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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats end up on top

Late-game offensive heroics paved the way for the No. 17 Arizona baseball team to edge out the No. 21 Rice University Owls, 10-8, in the first of a two game series in Tucson on Tuesday.

A late eighth inning, two-out rally was just what the doctor ordered for the Wildcats, with right fielder Robert Refsnyder doubling in a run and designated hitter Josh Garcia following with an RBI triple.

“”We got it done at the end,”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez. “”I’ve always been a guy who would rather teach from a game that wasn’t all that pretty, than teach from a loss.””

Despite strong starting pitching and an offensive jump to begin the game, the Wildcat bullpen was unable to continue the trend, letting a fifth inning 8-0 Arizona lead turn into a 8-8 tie midway through the eighth.

“”I thought we played really well for about five or six innings,”” Lopez said. “”But this is the reality of what we are doing right now. We’ve got to find out what’s happening in the middle of our rotation.””

Arizona took charge early when Cole Frenzel doubled in a run.

Taking advantage of poor pitching and defensive miscues, the Arizona offense seemed to put the game out of reach in the fourth with a five runs on three hits to take an 8-0 lead.

Frenzel again created for Arizona, driving in another run, and Garcia plated two on a frozen rope single to left.

Arizona starter Kurt Heyer, whom Lopez was holding to under 50 pitches, was stellar in his 2.2 innings of work, striking out four and giving up zero runs on two hits.

Freshmen Konner Wade looked solid over his first two innings of relief, retiring the side in the fourth and fifth.

Then the levy broke.

A flood of five runs came through off of Wade and reliever Daniel Ponce de Leon, putting the game back within reach for the Owls.

Left-hander Matt Chaffee then took the hill and didn’t seem to fool anyone, as the Rice hitters tacked on another three runs to pull within one at the seventh inning stretch.

Chaffee loaded the bases in the top of the eighth and just one out. Bryce Bandilla came in to clean up the mess, but immediately walked in the tying run.

Bandilla wouldn’t lose the lead given to him in the bottom of the eighth, closing out the game 1-2-3.

“”I was in the dugout, and, once they got those two runs, I just sat down and thought, ‘Game over, we’re getting this win,'”” Bandilla said.

What was almost a heart-breaking loss for Arizona transitioned into a character defining win for the young Wildcats, and these are the kind of wins that they will need for Pacific 10 Conference play.

“”The Pac-10 is loaded, so these non-conference games are going to be huge for us.”” Refsnyder said. “”It was good that they made a run because it showed a little character in the back of our bullpen.

“”It was a good job overall from Bandilla, he’s going to be really big for us, coming into that closer spot.””

The Wildcats finish out their series with Rice tonight with Kyle Simon set to take the hill for Arizona.

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