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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball overpowers EKU, locks up first series victory of 2017

Arizona+pitcher+Rio+Gomez+%2829%29+pitches+during+the+baseball+game+against+Eastern+Kentucky+at+Hi+Corbett+Field+on+Feb.+19.
Logan Cook

Arizona pitcher Rio Gomez (29) pitches during the baseball game against Eastern Kentucky at Hi Corbett Field on Feb. 19.

The Arizona baseball team continued its recent offensive surge Sunday afternoon, and the Widlcats cruised to an 18-4 series-clinching victory against Eastern Kentucky at Hi Corbett Field.The game came 24 hours after the Wildcats beat the Colonels 16-13 in a five-hour marathon.

It was a hit parade for the Wildcats who rode the bats of J.J. Matijevic, Mitchell Morimoto, Jared Oliva and Cameron Cannon who went a combined 11-20 with two home runs, nine RBIs and 11 runs. Alfonso Rivas also went 3-3 with four RBIs and three runs scored.

UA wasted little time getting on the board as it scored five runs in the first inning. Matijevic hit an RBI double, Cesar Salazar drove in two with a single, Oliva knocked in one with a bunt single and Cannon singled in a run of his own.

The Wildcats added two more in the second after Matijevic launched a home run to dead center after Rivas doubled to lead off the inning.

“He couldn’t really command his off-speed [pitches] and I knew that,” Matijevic said. “I went up there looking fastball and I got it on the first pitch and just stayed nice and slow and ended up doing what I did.”

In the fourth inning, Cannon tripled in Oliva and then scored on a single by Louis Boyd which brought up Morimoto who crushed a two-run home run to left, putting the Wildcats up 13-2. UA added to their lead in the fifth when Rivas came up with the bases loaded and hit a three-run double to right field.

After using seven pitchers in Saturday’s win, the Wildcats needed a solid performance out of their starter, Rio Gomez, who gave them just that. The left-hander went five innings allowing two earned runs, three hits and he struck out six.

“He got us off to a good start,” Johnson said. “I thought after yesterday it was important and I thought he got a little tired at the end but a lot of strike quality, had three pitches working for the most part and did exactly what we needed him to do.”

Gomez was relieved by Juan Aguilera, Ryan Gowens and Preston Price who combined went four innings, giving up one run and striking out 11.

The Wildcats’ offense exploded for 34 runs on 36 hits over the span of Sunday afternoon and Saturday night.

“I think it’s how we’ve scored the 34 runs,” Johnson said. “The first inning today is how you draw it up. A lot of patient at-bats, good-two strike at-bats, guys using the whole field, hitting with runners in scoring position, executing. We haven’t thrown away many at-bats which is nice.”

The Wildcats will finish up the series against EKU Monday morning at Hi Corbett at 10 a.m. While Johnson said that he is unsure of who will start tomorrow’s finale, he said Gomez’s performance was valuable in the sense of preserving pitchers to finish the series.

“We’re set up great for tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I think Rio [Gomez] really helped us out, not only in this game but that’ll carry over to the next game and it’s a short week. We’ll be back here on Thursday so that was a big-time performance from that standpoint.”

After finishing up the series with EKU, the Wildcats will host McNeese State for a four-game set beginning Thursday, February 23rd at Hi Corbett Field.


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