TUCSON, Ariz. – Eager to avoid a sweep, visiting San Francisco jumped out to an early lead and then pulled away late to hand 10th-ranked Arizona a 9-2 defeat before a crowd of 2,635 at Hi Corbett Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Dons scored twice in the first inning against Wildcats starter Stephen Manthei, who struggled with his control. The righty walked the first two batters he faced before allowing an RBI single to Derek Anderson. A third walk to Zachary Turner loaded the bases, and the Wildcats made a quick pitching change.
Lefty Cody Moffett, who earned a victory against Utah Valley on Wednesday in his first career start, stepped in and immediately restored order. The Gilbert, Ariz., native retired all three batters he faced in the frame, allowing just one more run to score on a groundout, which minimized the damage and left the Wildcats trailing only 2-0.
However, San Francisco (5-7) received an outstanding pitching performance from its starter, Christian Cecilio. The lefty carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Kevin Newman delivered a one-out double. Cecilia came right back to register two of his four strikeouts in the game to keep the Wildcats off the scoreboard.
Moffett, who worked 5 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s win, was pulled after four shutout innings of relief. Augey Bill replaced him and pitched a scoreless fifth, but a leadoff double from Bradley in the sixth led to an RBI safety squeeze bunt by Josh Miller to push the Dons’ lead to 3-0.
Arizona (10-3) threatened in the home half of the sixth, but mustered just one run. With one out, Zach Gibbons tripled to left-center and scored on a passed ball. Riley Moore then drew a walk, by Cecilia was able to force Johnny Field to fly out. Releiver Haden Hinkle then struck out Brandon Dixon to keep a two-run advantage in tact.
Cecilio (W, 1-0) earned the victory after pitching 5 2/3 innings. He allowed just two hits, walked run and had four strikeouts. Hinkle earned his first save with 3 1/3 innings of relief in which he scattered five hits, walked none and struck out five.
The pitching effort was more than enough for San Francisco, which added two insurance runs in the seventh and four more in the top of the ninth. The Dons did so against a bevy of Arizona pitchers, as the Wildcats used nine hurlers in the game.
Arizona scored its only other run of the game in the bottom of the ninth. With a leadoff single, Dixon reached base for the 13th-straight game to open the season. He moved to third on Newman’s second hit of the game and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Koziol.
The Wildcats continue an 18-game homestand this week with five more games at Hi Corbett Field. Texas Tech is in town for games on Tuesday and Wednesday before Columbia visits for a three-game set next weekend.