Wildcats hang on to beat Stanford baseball

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The University of Arizona baseball team dug itself out of an early hole and then held on for a 6-5 victory over host Stanford to win the opener of a three-game series Friday evening at Sunken Diamond.

Designated hitter Michael Hoard reached base five times, including a two-run triple in a critical fourth inning that flipped the momentum of the game, and reliever Nathan Bannister shined in four-plus dominant innings of relief.

Stanford (9-9, 0-1 Pac-12) staked itself to an early edge with three first-inning runs off Wildcat starter Cody Hamlin before its bats went quiet. But after Arizona scored six unanswered runs, the Cardinal scored twice in the ninth and had the potential tying run at second base before closer Bobby Dalbec struck out Quinn Brodey to preserve the win.
Bannister (4-0) took over in the fifth after Hamlin issued a leadoff walk. The reliever quickly induced a flyout and a line-drive double play to escape the frame. He went on to retire the Cardinal in order over the next three innings, too.

Leading 6-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Bannister allowed his first base runner when Matt Winaker singled. One out later, first baseman Sawyer Gieseke was unable to handle a grounder from Kenny Diekroeger, leaving runners on second and third after the error.

After a passed ball let Winaker score, Dalbec was called in to take over for Bannister. Austin Barr’s infield singled pushed home Diekreoger, and suddenly the tying run was on a base.

Jonny Locher’s soft groundout advanced pinch-runner Drew Jackson into scoring position, but Dalbec struck out Brodey, earning his third save.
Arizona (17-6, 2-2 Pac-12) was held hitless into the fourth inning. Riley Moore reached on a leadoff error and Dalbec drew a walk, putting two on for Hoard, who ripped a triple into the right field corner. Zach Gibbons followed with a run-scoring single, tying the game.

In the fifth, the Wildcats took their first lead. Justin Benhke drew a leadoff walk, was bunted to second by Scott Kingery and driven home on Kevin Newman’s liner to center.
Hanewich (1-2) suffered the loss for allowing four runs — three earned — on only three hits, but he walked five. The right-hander was making his first Friday start in place of ace Cal Quantrill, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Hamlin did not factor into the decision for the Wildcats, tossing four-plus innings with only the three first-inning runs allowed. The righty scattered five hits and a walk.

Bannister teamed with Hamlin to hold the Cardinal hitless from the third through eighth innings, allowing just one batter to reach base. That was Hamlin’s leadoff walk in the fifth.

Two eighth-inning insurance runs proved valuable for the visitors. Hoard, who was 2-for-2 with three walks, singled to left field to move Moore to third base with one out. A shallow fly ball hit by Gibbons was dropped by left fielder Alex Dunlap, allowing Moore to score, before Ryan Aguilar roped an RBI double to provide a three-run cushion. 

Arizona capitalized on Cardinal miscues all evening, scoring two unearned runs off two errors. Wildcat hitters also drew a season-high eight walks.

The teams continue the series Saturday.