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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball has first home loss of season to Utah Valley State

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The No. 10 Arizona baseball team has had luck on its side recently.

Twice against San Jose State, on Friday and Sunday, the Wildcats mounted late-inning comebacks to win.

That didn’t happen for them against Utah Valley State on Tuesday night, as Arizona fell 3-1 at Hi Corbett Field.

It was the Wildcats’ first loss at home since May 21 of last year.

“I was really disappointed in our performance,” said outfielder Johnny Field, who had one hit and one walk in three at-bats. “We just did a horrible job of leaving guys on base all night and not coming up with any big hits.”

But with one out in the eighth inning on Tuesday night, it looked like Lady Luck was returning to the Wildcats’ side.

Arizona was trailing 3-1 when Arizona third baseman Brandon Dixon hit a routine pop-up to center field. Wolverine center fielder Jordy Hart fumbled the catch, giving the Wildcats men on first and second with one out.

But Arizona couldn’t convert.

Trent Gilbert flew out to Hart, who didn’t drop it this time, then Kevin Newman flew out to right field to end the inning.

Outfielders Tyler Parmenter and Scott Kingery both walked in the ninth, but Riley Moore struck out to end the game.

Arizona was 2-of-11 with runners in scoring position on the night.

“We struggled a lot,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “I tip my hat to their guy. He pitched good and made pitches when he had to. In this park, when you don’t hit it in the gap, it’s just a long fly ball, and they’ll learn. Hopefully,they’ll learn quickly.”

Starting pitcher Andrew Freter lasted 5.2 innings for the Wolverines, allowing three hits with three walks and a strikeout.

The Wildcats fell into the early 3-1 hole largely because of the troubles of starter Tyler Crawford (1-1), who lasted 2.1 innings.

“He said he felt great,” Lopez said, “but he didn’t look very good.”

In his second start of the season, Crawford gave up four hits and three runs (one earned) and walked one batter with three strikeouts.

“He’s all right,” Field said. “I just don’t think he had his best control today, and that kind of hurt him a little bit. I thought he did an all right job. His best control wasn’t there like it usually is.”

The second inning in particular was a struggle for Crawford.

After he mowed down Utah Valley 1-2-3 in the first inning, with two strikeouts, he opened the second inning by giving up a hit to Utah Valley’s Kai Hatch, who reached on a fielding error from Dixon.

Then Colby Croft singled, and Kade Andrus grounded into a double play wherein Hatch scored. After a single, a triple — which came when left fielder Joseph Maggi lost the ball in the lights — and one more run from the Wolverines, Crawford ended the inning on his third strikeout.

Crawford was removed in the third inning with one out and men on first and third for right-hander Nick Cunningham, who pitched 5.2 shutout innings in relief.

Cunningham had a career night, setting personal bests in innings pitched and strikeouts (five). He allowed three hits and walked two batters.

“I thought I threw well,” Cunningham said. “You can always be better. There never is a perfect outing, but I just wanted to give my team a chance to win, and I thought we had that.”

Arizona scored its first run on an RBI single from second baseman Trent Gilbert in the fourth inning.

Gilbert finished with two hits in four at-bats.

The Wildcats might’ve scored earlier in the inning, but catcher Riley Moore got caught in a run-down between second and third and was tagged out.

“We did a few foolish things that cost you in the course of a game,” Lopez said. “Tonight was a close game. That doesn’t cost you if it’s a high-scoring game, but in a close game that bites you, and it bit us tonight.”

Freshman Jackson Willeford made his debut, starting as designated hitter for the Wildcats, but didn’t register a hit in two at-bats.

He grounded out to first base in the third inning and popped out to center in the fifth before Zach Gibbons pinch-hit for Willeford in the seventh inning.

Gibbons promptly walked. Maggi singled to give Kingery men on first and third with two outs, giving the Wildcats a prime chance to start a comeback down 3-1, but Kingery flew out to left field.

Arizona will take on Utah Valley State again at 1 p.m. today at Hi Corbett.

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