TUCSON, Ariz. – It was the start of a new season, but 24th-ranked Arizona picked up right where it left off. The defending national champions got a dominant effort from junior starter Konner Wade and erupted offensively in the middle innings en route to a 16-0 season-opening win over Coppin State before 5,145 fans at Hi Corbett Field on Friday night.
Wade (1-0), a winner in all four of his postseason starts last June, including two complete games at the College World Series, retired the first 11 hitters he faced and did not allow a hit until the seventh inning. He finished with eight strikeouts, one walk and just one hit allowed in 6 1/3 innings of work as he improved to 15-3 in his career.
Arizona (1-0), which won its 12th straight game overall dating to last season, was overanxious at the plate in the first two innings against Coppin State right-hander Darryl Martinez. But in the third, sophomore designated hitter Tyler Parmenter blasted a leadoff triple off the wall in left field. It was the first of three three-baggers in the frame, a figure one shy of the NCAA Division I record for triples in an inning.
Parmenter scored the season’s first run when freshman Ryan Koziol reached on a sharply hit grounder that was booted by Eagles second baseman Colin Dower. One out later, freshman leadoff hitter Scott Kingery was hit by a pitch, and sophomore Joseph Maggi then drew a walk to load the bases for Johnny Field. The reigning Pac-12 batting champion crushed a triple to the gap in left-center, clearing the bases to make it 4-0.
Sophomore catcher Riley Moore brought in Field with a single, and junior third baseman Brandon Dixon socked another triple to plate Moore. For good measure, Parmenter, who led off the frame, later drove in Dixon with a sacrifice fly to cap a seven-run outburst.
All seven runs were charged to Martinez (0-1), who suffered the loss after lasting just 2 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits and walked two; two of his runs allowed were unearned.
The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas, scoring five more runs in the fourth to blow the game wide open. Kingery, who tied a school single-game record by being hit by a pitch three times, was plunked leading off and promptly stole second. That set the stage for five UA hitters to collect an RBI in the inning.
Arizona added a pair of runs in the fifth and eighth innings, respectively, to make it 16-0. It was UA’s first Opening Day shutout since 2011 and its highest scoring output since a 19-6 romp over St. Mary’s to kick off the 1999 campaign.
Wade was lifted with one out in the seventh, and he handed the ball over to senior right-hander Nick Cunningham, who finished out the game. Cunningham did not allow a hit and walked just one in his 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, combining with Wade to throw the school’s first one-hitter since Feb. 2, 2007.
Arizona hitters were plunked seven times in the game – a new school single-game record – and drew seven walks. UA also had 10 hits, a modest output for a team that led the nation with 756 base hits a season ago.
Field finished with three of those hits, going 3-for-5 with five RBIs. Overall, Arizona’s Nos. 3-7 hitters tallied eight of the club’s 10 hits and combined for 10 runs scored and 12 RBI.
Prior to the game, Arizona honored its 2012 national championship team in a pregame ceremony that featured a pair of stars from last year’s team, Kurt Heyer and Joey Rickard. Each tossed out a ceremonial first pitch, and the newest of the school’s four title banners was unveiled in centerfield.
The Wildcats and Eagles continue the three-game series on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field.