To get an NCAA Tournament bid, many are saying the Arizona Wildcats baseball team (30-20, 11-14) need to win five of their last six games, including a series this weekend against rival #13 Arizona State (33-16-1, 14-11) and a series next weekend against USC. Arizona got this task off to a good start tonight by beating the Sun Devils 10-7 in Tempe. One down and five more to go.
Coming off cold bats and a three game losing streak to UCLA, Arizona’s bats reignited tonight for 10 runs–including a six run 2nd inning–and 13 hits. Trent Gilbert led the way with three hits, two runs and an RBI. Kevin Newman, Jordan Berger, Joseph Maggie and Brandon Dixon also had two hits each, with Dixon’s two knocks bringing in four RBIs. Arizona State’s four errors didn’t hurt either.
Konner Wade got his Friday night starting gig back after starting on Saturday last week. Wade did a solid job, allowing only four runs and nine hits in seven innings to a good Arizona State offense. Things got dicey in the 8th inning, however, when the Arizona bullpen allowed three runs, narrowing Arizona’s lead to 10-7. With two outs and based loaded, Arizona would let out a sigh of relief when pitcher Matthew Troupe pitched a pop up to center field for out number three.
Things would again get dicey in the bottom of the ninth when Troupe walked the first two batters. Arizona would let out another sigh as Tyler Crawford came in to relieve Troupe and threw a 1-2-3 out inning with runners on first and second.
Arizona will face Arizona State again tomorrow at 6:30pm for another crucial game and 12:30pm on Sunday for yet another.
Zona Zealots has not covered a whole lot of softball this season and there is a reason for it–Arizona (32-25, 9-15) is having one of its worst seasons (if not the worst season) in Candrea’s history as coach. Today’s opening game in the NCAA Tournament against Baylor (39-14) was a sorrowful reminder, as Arizona was crushed 7-0. The Wildcats’ six walks to the Bears’ zero was certainly a contributing factor.
As any college baseball/softball fan knows, losing the very first game of a regional is the worst possible thing that can happen, as Arizona will now have to win four games in a row just to advance to Super Regionals, including a win over Penn tomorrow at 2:30, a win over the loser of Baylor/Texas A&M, and two wins over the winner of Baylor/Texas A&M. Good luck, ladies.