Arizona finishes off sweep of San Jose State
TUCSON, Ariz. – The 10th-ranked Arizona baseball team was held hitless for six innings before erupting with nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings to prevail 9-4 and finish off a three-game sweep of visiting San Jose State on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
San Jose State (2-5) starter D.J. Slaton relied on his fastball to pound the strike zone and held the Wildcats, who had a season-high 14 hits on Saturday, without a hit through six innings. Slaton (0-2) faced 19 batters and held a 3-0 lead before giving up his first hit of the game.
That hit was Riley Moore’s single through the right side of the infield to lead off the bottom of the seventh. From there, Slaton lost his command, issuing consecutive walks to Johnny Field and Brandon Dixon. Trent Gilbert followed with an RBI single to drive in Moore with UA’s first run, chasing Slaton from the game.
Against reliever Daniel Chavez, freshmen Kevin Newman and Ryan Koziol each drew bases-loaded walks to force in runs, with Koziol’s RBI tying the score at 3-3 following a 10-pitch at-bat. Pinch hitters Cody Ramer and Joseph Maggi drove in the fourth and fifth runs of the inning, respectively, with groundouts, and the Wildcats found themselves leading 5-3 after seven innings.
Arizona (7-1) starter Stephen Manthei suddenly found himself in position to win the game and quickly recorded two outs in the eighth. The potential third out, a grounder that Newman was unable to field cleanly at shortstop, allowed a runner to reach base, and the Wildcats called on closer Mathew Troupe.
Troupe gave up a walk and a run-scoring single but recorded a strikeout to preserve a 5-4 lead for the Wildcats. The run was unearned but was tacked onto Manthei’s line in what was an otherwise very impressive third career start for the right-hander.
Manthei (1-0) scattered six hits and did not walk a batter in his longest career outing. He added three strikeouts and gave up just three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings.
The Spartans opened the scoring in the first when Andre Mercurio led off the game with a single, was bunted to second and drive in on Tim Quiery’s run-scoring single.
San Jose State added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, to take a 3-0 lead. But the Spartans were never able to post a crooked number against Manthei.
After their 5-3 lead was cut to a one-run margin, the Wildcats added four insurance runs in the home half of the eighth after Moore led off with a double to left field. Two outs later, Gilbert, who was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and two RBI, drove in Moore with a single up the middle. Koziol collected his second RBI of the afternoon with a sharp single to left field, before Maggi and Scott Kingery were walked and plunked by a pitch, respectively, to force in two more runs.
With a 9-4 lead in the ninth, Troupe set down the Spartans in order to secure his third save of the season.
The victory was Arizona’s fourth straight overall and its 12th consecutive at Hi Corbett Field dating back to last season. The weekend series sweep was the Wildcats’ 10th in their last 22 weekend three-game series, a stretch in which Arizona has won 19 of 22 series.
The Wildcats continue their season-long 18-game homestand with five games this week. Utah Valley visits for a pair of mid-week games on Tuesday (6 p.m.) and Wednesday (1 p.m.) before San Francisco comes to town next from March 1-3.