Wildcats hold on for wild win over Cougars

Wildcats hold on for wild win over Cougars

Published Apr. 13, 2013 11:19 p.m. ET

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Arizona baseball team braved the wacky weather and survived a wild ninth inning to beat Washington State 6-5 on Saturday in the second game of a three-game series.

Saturday’s game was highlighted by wintery weather that included intermittent snow flurries, gusty winds and a mix of sunshine and clouds. Temperatures climbed from the high 30s at first pitch to the lower 40s by game’s end, while 803 patrons bundled up to watch what became a nail-biter in the end.

Arizona (22-12, 7-7 Pac-12) carried a four-run lead into the ninth and had its closer, Mathew Troupe, on the mound, but Washington State (18-14, 5-6 Pac-12) made things interesting in the final frame.

Troupe, who entered to strike out Adam Nelubwich to end the eighth inning, walked the first three batters he faced in the ninth. The right-hander, who has eight saves on the season, was then replaced by freshman Tyger Talley.

Talley quickly registered a strikeout but then walked Ben Roberts to force in a run and put the tying run on base. A fielder’s-choice groundout by pinch-hitter J.J. Robinson drove in another run and moved the tying run to second base.

A wild pitch plated another run for the Cougars and allowed Roberts to advance to third as the tying run. P.J. Jones worked the count full before being hit by a pitch, earning his way to first base and representing the winning run.

That brought Jason Monda, Washington State's RBI leader, to the plate. But Talley settled in and struck out Monda swinging on a sweeping breaking ball, finishing off the win for the Wildcats. Talley was credited with his first career save.

Little did Arizona know at the time, but an erratic ninth inning by the Washington State pitching staff may have provided the difference.

The Wildcats scored twice in the top of the inning without the benefit of a base hit, as relievers Sean Hartnett and Sam Triece combined to walk four and allow a run to score on a wild pitch, turning a two-run Arizona lead into a 6-2 advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth.

The suspenseful ninth inning saw the two pitching staffs throw 71 pitches, issue eight total walks and hit a batter while allowing five total runs without a hit.  

Overshadowed by the bullpen collapse on both sides was a brilliant pitching performance by Arizona’s James Farris. The junior struck out a career-high 10 and did not issue a walk as he scattered four hits in 7 1/3 innings. Farris (W, 4-3) earned the win after giving up only two runs – one earned – in his outing.

The Wildcats opened the scoring with a run in the second inning. Kevin Newman and Riley Moore hit back-to-back singles to place runners on the corners for Ryan Koziol, who drove in the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice groundout.

Arizona added a single run in the sixth when Brandon Dixon reached on a bunt single, moved to second on Zach Gibbon’s sacrifice and scored on Newman’s RBI single to right field.

Leading 2-0, the Wildcats scored twice in the seventh inning. With two down and the bases loaded, Gibbon’s delivered a two-run single to right field to score Trent Gilbert and Johnny Field.

The Cougars finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning. Shea Donlin led off with a single and, one out later, scored on Trace Tam Sing’s double to right center field.

Reliever Augey Bill was called on to take over for Farris, and the lefty hit Jones before both runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Monda then hit a sacrifice fly to score Tam Sing, before Troupe came on to strike out Nelubowich.

Washington State starter Tanner Chleborad (L, 3-6) suffered the loss after giving up three runs on five hits and two walks over six-plus innings of work.

Offensively, Arizona was led by Newman, who finished 2-for-5 with a run and a pair of RBI, and Field, who went 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.

Earlier on Saturday, Washington State finished off a series-opening victory with a 9-5 decision. Friday’s opener was suspended due to rain with the Cougars leading, 7-4, heading into the eighth inning and was resumed at noon Saturday. The teams took 50 minutes off between games and began the second game of the series at 1:30 p.m.

The two clubs will decide the series in the rubber match on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for noon.