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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball travels to Utah for three-game series

Arizona+infielder+Cody+Ramer+%2813%29+runs+to+first+after+a+hit+to+the+outfield+on+Sunday%2C+March+6.+Arizona+baseball+travels+to+Utah+this+weekend.%0A
Jen Pimentel
Arizona infielder Cody Ramer (13) runs to first after a hit to the outfield on Sunday, March 6. Arizona baseball travels to Utah this weekend.

Late-game heroics have become the norm for the Arizona baseball team lately.

A walk-off double by Bobby Dalbec capped off a five-run ninth inning for the Wildcats on Saturday, propelling them to a 6-5 victory and a series win over the UCLA Bruins.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of good wins, but that’s about as special as they come,” Arizona head coach Jay Johnson said after the game.

The Wildcats were walk-off winners once again Wednesday against the University of California, Riverside.

The Highlanders tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the seventh, but the Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the ninth, bringing home the game-winning run via a walk-off walk from Ryan Aguilar.

“That’s who we are, and it was good to see it come back around,” Johnson said. “We had to grind.”

No matter who the opponent is, wins are hard to come by. While Johnson will take them any way he can get them, he’d prefer his team didn’t continue to rely on late-game heroics to do so.

“I just wish we wouldn’t wait until the ninth inning,” he said. “It’s just another example of how the game is extremely hard. This[is] not flag football and basketball. It is so different when you add the element of pitching, … so I think it just reaffirms to our guys how hard it is to win, and then it’s not about winning and losing, it’s about our play and we have to be prepared to play well every game.”

After splitting the two-game series against UC Riverside, the Wildcats have a 17-8 overall record and are 3-3 in Pac-12 Conference play. Their focus will now shift to the Utah Utes, as they’ll host the Wildcats for a three-game series, which starts Friday.

“We’ve set this season up so that the only game that matters is the one in front of us,” Johnson said. “I think our players have done a good job buying into that.”

The Utes struggled to begin the season, starting the year with a 3-12 record, but have picked it up substantially since Pac-12 play began. They beat Oregon in two out of three games in Eugene two weeks ago, then took two of three from ASU this past weekend in Tempe.

Yet, Arizona’s offense—one that leads the conference in runs and hits—should find Utah’s pitching staff to its liking. The Utes have the lowest ERA in the conference (4.87) and opposing hitters have batted .289 against their pitchers, also a conference-worst mark.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats will start JC Cloney on the mound in Friday’s series-opener. Cloney has started in seven games for Arizona this season, compiling a 3-1 record and a 2.68 earned run average. In his last start, Cloney pitched a complete game,and only allowed one run in Arizona’s 6-1 victory over UCLA.

He’ll look to build off that success Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Johnson has yet to announce his starting pitchers for games two and three of the series, which are scheduled to start Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m., respectively.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter


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