Arizona baseball routed by Kent State

TUCSON, Ariz. — Kent State scored 11 first-inning runs and held off Arizona the rest of the way for a 14-5 victory Saturday to even the three-game series at Hi Corbett Field.

The Golden Flashes jumped all over Wildcats starter Tyler Crawford in the initial frame, chasing the lefty after he faced eight batters and recorded just one out. The initial onslaught continued against right-hander Nathan Bannister, who also retired just one of his seven batters faced, before lefty-hander Cody Moffett finally sent Arizona to bat in the bottom of the first.

The trio of hurlers threw 55 first-inning pitches in an inning that ultimately lasted 55 minutes after Arizona mounted a scoring threat of its own in the home half of the inning. However, Golden Flashes starter Nick Jensen-Clagg was able to retire Riley Moore on a fly out to strand a pair of Wildcats and preserve an 11-run lead that turned out to be more than enough for the win.

Kent State (1-1) was held to just one run in Friday’s season opener but erupted for 11 first-inning runs, which were the most scored against Arizona in a single frame since Arizona State plated 13 in a victory in Tempe, Ariz., on April 29, 2009. The 14 total runs were the third-most scored against the Wildcats at Hi Corbett Field since they moved into the ballpark two seasons ago.

Arizona’s bullpen settled down after the first inning, as Moffett went on to pitch 3 1/3 innings with just one run allowed.  Freshman Luke Soroko allowed only one run in two innings of work, while junior Mathew Troupe and freshman Morgan Earman combined to scatter three hits over three shutout innings.

First baseman Cody Koch paced the Golden Flashes offense with a 5 for 5 night at the plate, which included three runs batted in and a run scored. He also walked once.

Koch, the No. 5 hitter in the order, rounded out a top-half of the lineup that combined to hit 14 for 25 on the evening with 10 runs scored and eight driven in. Three-hole hitter Alex Miklos tallied three hits and a pair of runs scored, while cleanup hitter Zarley Zalewski drove in four and scored twice on two base hits.

Crawford (L, 0-1), Arizona’s Sunday starter the second half of last season, was charged with seven earned runs on five hits over his 1/3 of an inning. He hit two batters.

Jensen-Clagg did not factor into the decision since he pitched just 4 2/3 innings, but he limited the Wildcats to three runs on eight hits and three walks in his first start of the season.

In relief, Eric Lauer (W, 1-0) picked up the victory with 2 2/3 solid innings in which he surrendered a run on one hit. Andy Ravel recorded the final five outs of the game and allowed one run on three hits.

Arizona (1-1) scored single runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings and then added two in the bottom of the eighth. However, the Wildcats were just 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.

Kevin Newman, named earlier this week to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list, shook off a hitless season debut with a 3-for-4 effort Saturday. He drove in three of the team’s five runs scored.

The rubber match of the series is set for Sunday at noon at Hi Corbett Field.