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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball walks-off USC, wins Pac-12 Tournament

Danielle Main
The Wildcats pose for a team photo in celebration as the cats take the win over UCLA Bruins March 28th at Hi-Corbett Field. Brendan Summerhill gifted the cats with a walk-off two-run home run! Final score for the cats 5-3.

A big week at the plate from Mason White, another dominant start from Clark Candiotti and a dramatic comeback against USC helped the No.18 Arizona baseball team win the final Pac-12 Tournament, and secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and put themselves firmly in the running for a home regional.

Pool A: Wednesday, May 22

Game 1: No. 18 Arizona vs. Washington

White had four RBIs, including a 3-run home run in the third inning, and No. 1 seed Arizona beat No. 9 seed University of Washington 6-5 in its first game of the Pac-12 Tournament.

Brendan Summerhill and Brandon Rogers singled ahead of White’s home run to right field off Jared Engman to give Arizona a 4-2 lead in the third inning. In the sixth inning, White notched his fourth RBI of the game with a single following an Easton Breyfogle double and a pair of singles from Summerhill and Richie Morales to extend Arizona’s lead to 6-2.

Washington rallied late, getting a run back in the bottom of the sixth before scoring 2 more runs in the bottom of the ninth off three singles and some heads-up baserunning to put the tying run on base. However, Anthony “Tonko” Susac was able to induce a ground ball from Cam Clayton to end the game and pick up the save.

Arizona used five pitchers, none of whom pitched more than two innings, after using its three starters last weekend against Oregon State University to clinch the Pac-12 regular season title.

Tony Pluta and Kyler Heyne pitched two scoreless innings a piece, with Pluta picking up the win. Bradon Zastrow, Dawson Netz, Susac, Pluta and Heyne combined for 12 strikeouts and just one walk.

Arizona’s bats were making contact all game as the Wildcats were able to string together 14 hits, only three of which went for extra bases.

With the win, Arizona clinched a spot in the tournament semifinals.

Pool A: Thursday, May 23

Game 2: No. 18 Arizona vs. California

Arizona starting pitcher Jackson Kent allowed 7 earned runs, Peyton Schulze hit 2 home runs and the No. 6 seed University of California, Berkeley beat the Wildcats 7-5.

Schulze opened the scoring for Cal in the top of the third with a 3-run home run to left-center field. Then, in the top of the fifth, Schulze smacked another home run to left-center field, this time scoring 2 runs and giving Cal a 7-1 lead.

After allowing 0 runs in his April 26 start at Washington and lowering his earned run average to 2.41, Kent has allowed at least 4 runs in each of his last four starts, ballooning his ERA to 4.08, the first time it has surpassed four all season. The 7 earned runs Kent allowed on Thursday night are the most he’s allowed in a game all season. Kent also surrendered seven hits and a pair of walks while striking out seven over five innings pitched.

In a reversal of fortune from the night prior, it was Arizona trying to rally late and falling short. In the bottom of the eighth, White and Garen Caulfield singled ahead of Maddox Mihalakis, who hit a 3-run home run to pull Arizona within 2. However, after Summerhill singled to bring the tying run to the plate an inning later, Morales lined into a double play to end the game and cut the rally short.

Cal’s win knocked No. 7 Oregon State out of the tournament after they lost to Stanford University on Wednesday night.

Semifinal: Friday, May 24

Game 3: No. 18 Arizona vs. Stanford

Summerhill homered, Mihalakis had a pair of extra-base hits and Candiotti struck out 11 as Arizona defeated No. 8 seed Stanford 6-3 to advance to the Pac-12 Tournament final.

Tommy Splaine singled and Rogers reached on an error ahead of Summerhill, whose 3-run home run down the right field line off Matt Scott gave Arizona the early lead in the third inning. Scott took the loss, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, over four innings pitched and striking out two.

A Mihalakis triple helped the Wildcats add another run in the fourth inning. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Mihalakis doubled in a run before eventually reaching home on a sac bunt from Blake McDonald to extend Arizona’s lead to 6-0.

Candiotti was dominant, allowing just 1 run on four hits without issuing a walk over seven innings pitched. Stanford scored its only run off Candiotti in the seventh inning, after a hit-by-pitch and single allowed Malcolm Moore to score on a fielder’s choice.

Stanford got a pair of runs back off Arizona reliever Casey Hintz in the eighth and ninth innings off four singles and a walk but were unable to do enough damage to offset Arizona’s early offense.

Final: Saturday, May 25

Game 4: Arizona vs. USC

No. 4 seed USC starting pitcher Caden Aoki carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning having struck out eight batters with only a single Wildcat, Andrew Cain, reaching base on an error. Meanwhile, USC had taken a 3-0 lead early, capitalizing on a Splaine fielding error, two doubles and two triples in the third and fourth innings.

It just felt like it was going to be USC’s night. However, a few innings later, Splaine slapped a single to left field, scoring pinch runner Emilio Corona from second to walk-off the Trojans 4-3 and win the Pac-12 Tournament Championship. 

All Arizona needed was a spark, which they got in the bottom of the seventh when White beat the shift on a single to center field to finally break Aoki’s no-hitter. The next batter, Mihalakis, worked a 10-pitch walk, the final pitch of which took a weird bounce in the dirt, allowing White to advance to third. This became crucial when McDonald hit a fly ball to left field deep enough to score White from third base and put Arizona on the board, 3-1 USC.

After a 1-2-3 top of the eighth from Arizona starting pitcher Cam Walty, the Wildcats were able to string together a Morales walk and a pair of singles from Splaine and Summerhill to cut USC’s lead to 1 run. Then, with one out, Caulfield was able to lift a fly ball to center field deep enough to score Morales from third. Six innings of USC dominance and, just like that, it was a tie game.

All it took in the bottom of the ninth was a single from McDonald, a pinch-run steal from Corona and a single from Splaine to cap off Arizona’s comeback.

This is a story Wildcats fans have grown used to throughout the season, which has led to the resurrection of the “Cardiac Cats” nickname due to the team’s propensity for walk-off wins and late-game heroics. A weekend prior, Arizona completed an unlikely walk-off victory over Oregon State in its regular-season finale to secure the Pac-12 Regular Season Championship. The final score in that game was 4-3, just like this one.

For the second straight week, Walty kept Arizona in a do-or-die game with a gutsy start. Last week, he gave up 3 runs, 2 earned, over 8.1 innings, allowing six hits and zero walks while striking out eight. On Saturday night, he allowed 3 earned runs over eight innings, allowing five hits and zero walks while striking out four. Outside of strikeouts, which were halved, his numbers against USC were eerily similar to his numbers against Oregon State.

White was named the Pac-12 Tournament Most Valuable Player. He finished the tournament going 6-for-15 with five RBIs, 5 runs scored and 2 home runs.

Looking ahead:

Arizona’s win over USC gives them an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Wildcats must wait until Monday to find out if the Pac-12 regular season and tournament champions will be selected to host an NCAA Tournament regional at Hi Corbett Field.

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