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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats baseball completes first conference sweep of season

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One run and some fancy defense was just enough for Arizona (18-11, 3-6 Pac-12) as it completed its first conference sweep of the season with a 2-1 victory over Utah (12-13, 2-7 Pac-12) Saturday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.

With a 2-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning, Arizona closer Mathew Troupe would give up two singles and a run to tighten the lead to 2-1. Troupe loaded the bases with two outs by misfiring a throw to first base after a high groundball was hit back to the mound.

Following the error, the sophomore closer took a deep breath and collected his sixth save of the season when shortstop Kevin Newman snagged a hard groundball to his right and barely got the runner out at third to end the game.

“After the last year and a half I don’t expect [Troupe] to go a quick six outs,” head coach Andy Lopez said with smile. “Troupe is going to make it interesting but he gets them out, so what the heck.”

Arizona used most of its series runs Friday in its 15-4 beatdown of Utah. On Saturday, neither the Wildcats nor the Utes could push across a run until the later half the game. Wildcats’ centerfielder Johnny Field broke the 0-0 tie with a 1-2 RBI double to right center fielder to bring home Joseph Maggi from first base in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“I thought he was going to comeback with a slider, but he just stuck a fastball right there and I saw it pretty well,” Field said.

Arizona sophomore pitcher Tyler Crawford (3-1) made his fifth start of the season Saturday. Since the start of conference play Crawford had predominantly come out of the bullpen while posting a 3.00 ERA.

“Just tried to get ahead of hitters,” Crawford said about his mentality going into Saturday’s start. “I did really well throwing my off speed early in the count and getting them out in front.”

The lefty found himself in a pitchers’ duel against Utah’s Dalton Carroll (2-2). Crawford went 6.1 innings, allowed five hits and three walks, but did not allow a run with five strikeouts, which ties a career-high.

Senior Augey Bill (3-0) replaced Crawford when his pitch count reached 93. Bill, who would end up getting the winning decision, finished the seventh inning by retiring the next two Ute batters.

“Crawford was marvelous,” Lopez said. After the game, Lopez also announced Crawford as next week’s Sunday starter, a role that has seen many different players rotate in this season.

Arizona added what turned out to be a clutch insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when second baseman Trent Gilbert chopped a RBI single over Utah first baseman Trey Nielsen’s head to score Brandon Dixon from second. The RBI was Gilbert’s 35th on the season, which leads the conference and is tied for third in the country.

Troupe, who replaced Bill to start the top eighth inning, made it dicey and almost blew his first save of the season, but thanks to a veteran play by the freshman shortstop, Troupe was able to take a sigh of relief.

“Right when I threw it I thought ‘OK, I got the ground ball,’” Troupe said about the final out. “But then I saw Newman running and running but he made a really nice play. Such an old play by him to go to third.”

The win is Arizona’s third consecutive victory and comes just after riding a six-game losing streak. The Wildcats host California in a three-game weekend series at Hi Corbett Field.

“[We] got to keep up the intensity,” Troupe said about this upcoming week of practice. “Coach does a really good job with that, I promise you.”

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