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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Baseball swept by Cougars

    A continuous series of unwelcome events plagued the Arizona baseball team during the weekend. After dropping the first two games of its series against Washington State (18-16, 8-4 Pacific 10 Conference) by one run each, the Wildcats – who committed six errors in the series – saw normally reliable closer Jason Stoffel blow a save on Sunday that would have allowed the team to salvage a much-needed conference win.

    Instead Arizona (16-19, 3-11) fell in its third straight one-run loss to the Cougars, this one by a score of 8-7.

    “”We’re going to have to do some very special things if we want to have any life,”” UA head coach Andy Lopez said. “”We’re all responsible for the situation. There’s no blame one way or the other, but we really need to start playing better on weekends.””

    In the bottom of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game, with the Wildcats up by two runs, Stoffel entered the game in relief of set-up man Cory Burns. But the junior failed to close the door on the pesky Cougers’ offense and instead gave up a pair of walks, a single and a two-RBI double which sent the game into extra innings.

    Stoffel was relieved by right-hander Matt Veltmann who held WSU at bay in the 10th, but WSU’s bats got to the sophomore in the next inning. The Cougars got a base hit followed by an RBI double, ending the game and slimming Arizona’s already fragile postseason chances.

    “”For the most part, Stoffel came in and did what he needed to do,”” Lopez said. “”I’m sure he’d like to have that base on balls back, but (WSU) came out and got some good hits off him, so give them credit.””

    Sunday’s contest began well as starting pitcher Kyle Simon went five innings and allowed just three hits and one earned run while striking out three Cougar batters.

    But despite the effort, the freshman exited in the sixth inning with no chance at getting a win after a circus of an inning for the Wildcats’ defense in the fourth.

    After Simon walked the leadoff hitter, an error by second baseman Kyle Stiner put two runners on with no outs. Two batters later, a pair of throwing errors by utility player Dillon Baird and catcher Dwight Childs allowed two unearned runs to score. A wild pitch against the next batter allowed the inning’s third unearned run – and the sixth of the series – to cross the plate and tie the game at three.

    “”We had some pretty sloppy moments (Sunday),”” Lopez said. “”When you don’t play good defense it catches up to you, and we saw that this weekend.””

    Arizona’s defense committed only one error in Saturday’s contest, but it proved crucial as the Wildcats dropped game two of the series by a single run. The unearned run, along with Washington State’s hot bats, made it difficult for the Wildcats to climb out of the early hole.

    Starting pitcher Joe Allison – a redshirt sophomore making his first career Pac-10 start – lasted only three innings after the Cougars touched him up for three solo home runs from consecutive batters in the first inning.

    Reliever Daniel Workman entered in the fourth inning but suffered a similar fate, giving up the game’s fourth solo blast in the sixth. But the biggest blow came in the seventh when an error by shortstop Bryce Ortega allowed WSU to take a 5-3 lead.

    Arizona managed to squeeze out one more run in the ninth, but fell short of completing the comeback as the Wildcats lost 5-4.

    Saturday’s final score was the second one of the series, as Friday starter Preston Guilmet watched another strong performance slip through his fingers as the Cougars mounted a late-inning rally to edge the Wildcats by one run.

    The senior right-hander went 7 1/3 innings, five of which were scoreless, and struck out eight WSU hitters. But his single bad inning proved costly as the Cougars followed a leadoff triple with a squeeze play, and later another triple to cap a three-run seventh and put themselves up 5-4, a score that held up for the rest of the game.

    “”I didn’t think the pitching performance was very poor, to be honest,”” Lopez said. “”Preston pitched well enough to win Friday and with the exception of three pitches, Allison did a good job as well. But unfortunately we just couldn’t get everything to come together.””

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