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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball sweeps Portland

Savannah Douglas
UA Baseball vs Portland 3.9.15

Arizona baseball (15-4) rallied back to complete a three-game sweep of the Portland Pilots (4-15) on Sunday afternoon, after clinching the series with a come-from-behind victory on Saturday. The Wildcats rallied back from a 6-4 deficit after five innings and scored five unanswered runs, capitalizing on a three-run seventh to win 9-6.

Scott Kingery went 4-5 with one run and one RBI in the victory, while Kevin Newman recorded his fifth straight, two-hit game.

A host of errors and dropped balls allowed Arizona to take an early 4-1 lead after three innings, but all of the runs were unearned.

Arizona’s first two of 12 hits came off dropped balls from the Pilots. Scott Kingery’s single to shortstop was mishandled by Michael Lucarelli in the first, and Zach Gibbons reached on a bobble by Portland’s second baseman Kevin Farley in the second.

Gibbons’s base hit was the first of three that resulted in a two-run inning for Arizona. Lucarelli overthrew the pitcher following a base hit by Newman, which allowed Gibbons and Justin Behnke to score.

“I told our guys, ‘Hey, Portland practices, too,’” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “They’re not just going to school, they’re going to school on the field, too … but I’m happy that we have capitalized to the point that we’ve taken advantage of [their errors].”

The Pilots flew back into contention in the fifth, capitalizing on bases loaded with situations to string together five runs and go up 6-4. Portland recorded 10 total hits, including three from third baseman Cody Lenahan.

Lucarelli redeemed himself by hitting a two-RBI single off Arizona starting pitcher Tyger Talley with the bases loaded. The Pilots reloaded the bases before Talley walked in left fielder Grant Taylor.

“It’s college baseball, so you’re going to have people on base,” Lopez said. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”

Rio Gomez came in to relieve Talley halfway through the fifth inning after the junior gave up six runs on seven hits and recorded five strikeouts. He gave up two more runs before Arizona ended the inning on a 6-4-3 double play.

“Any time you can get two outs in one pitch like that, it really shifts the momentum in our favor,” Kingery said.

Kingery continued to change the momentum offensively in the bottom of the sixth inning with an RBI double down the left field line that scored Behnke. He reached home two batters later off a single by Riley Moore to tie the game at 6-6.

“I really think the biggest part was Behnke getting on in that inning,” Kingery said. “He’s a plus runner; he can wreak havoc on the bases.”

Arizona’s last push came in the bottom of the seventh, when the Wildcats pushed home three more runs after stealing two bases and taking advantage of a wild pitch by Portland reliever Billy Sahlinger.

Nathan Bannister earned the win for Arizona, after allowing one hit and recording two strikeouts in 2.1 innings, to improve his record to 3-0.

“It’s important that we fight back and persevere through our competition in order to be ready for Pac-12 [Conference play],” Bannister said. “If we fall down early, it’s good to know that we can come back and just not fold like most teams would.”

Arizona’s 15-4 record doesn’t come lightly. At this time last year, the Wildcats were just 10-9, and didn’t earn their 15th win until their 34th game on April 9 against ASU.

Hard work, mental toughness and team camaraderie are keeping the Wildcats on track to be a top contender in the Pac-12 this year.

“Everyone’s upbeat; everyone’s working hard,” Bannister said. “We’re rolling right now, and we intend to keep it that way.”


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