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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball falls to North Dakota State

The No. 20 Arizona baseball team’s honeymoon came to an abrupt end Saturday when North Dakota State University beat the Wildcats 8-2, as a collapse by the bullpen overshadowed a dominate performance by starter Konner Wade.

“Obviously our bullpen was very disappointing,” head coach Andy Lopez said.

The Wildcats (1-1) came into this season with high expectations and a new field with a professional history, but the excitement surrounding the start of the season quickly evaporated after their loss tonight.

The game seemed promising from the start as the Bison (1-1) had trouble touching Wade all day. He racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched and only allowed five men to reach base. His lone mistake was a two-run shot by outfielder Kyle Kleinendorst in the 5th inning that tied the game at two.

Then, after Wade recorded the first out of the 8th inning, he was replaced to limit his pitch count, but the change to the bullpen proved costly. The Wildcats went through four relievers in the two-thirds of an inning and combined to give up six runs on three hits and four walks. North Dakota State batted through its order during the eighth, and comfortably closed out the once-competitive game.

“Once again we’ve got to find someone that steps up in that bullpen role, and that’s an issue,” Lopez said.

It’s not a situation of panic, but if some of the juniors don’t step up, Arizona may have to to look at the freshman as replacements, according to Lopez.

But while Wade, a sophomore, had one of the better performances of his career, he still wasn’t satisfied.

“I’ve got to get better, got to throw more strikes, got to get ahead of guys,” Wade said.

The Wildcat offense also struggled, especially against Bison starter Luke Anderson. The team only had two hits off of the senior through his seven innings pitched.

In all, Arizona only had four hits in the game, despite striking first in the third inning. Arizona manufactured two runs off of clever baserunning in the third, including four stolen bases in the inning. But the early advantage proved fleeting, as the Bison scored the final eight runs of the afternoon and the Wildcats failed to put together any consistent offense.

“We’re just not playing good baseball right now,” junior Robert Refsnyder said. “The pitching staff is leading the program right now, and offensively, it’s sort of embarrassing. I hold myself accountable as an older guy.”

Refsnyfer went 2-4 on the night with four stolen bases, a run and he drove junior Joey Rickard for the only RBI of the game.

The team has only scored five runs combined the first two games against North Dakota State, a team they outscored 30-2 last season.

The hitters need to adjust to the field better and start putting the balls on the ground instead of hitting them into the air, Lopez said.

The loss is an early wake-up call for the Wildcats who are ranked as high as No. 5 by Baseball America, but Lopez said the game tomorrow will what this team is made of.

“It will be a good test for our guys to show tomorrow and see what kind of character they have,” he said. “This group has proven to have some pretty good character so we’ll see. Tomorrow will be an exciting day.”

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