It was a celebratory day in Tucson, as the Arizona Baseball team took to Hi Corbett Field to take on Ball State for the Opening Day of College Baseball.
In what’s bound to be the first of many heavyweight pitching matchups, Chase Silseth of the Wildcats squared off against fellow righty Ty Weatherly of Ball State, and you can pretty safely bet both of these arms will be in a minor league ballpark in the near future.
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After a smooth top of the first by Silseth, Kobe Kato became the first Wildcat baserunner as he drew a four-pitch walk out of the two hole, and Branden Boissiere joined with a five-pitch walk of his own before Ryan Holgate stepped to the plate.
Working a tough at-bat against Weatherly, Holgate cashed in with a two-run double to get the ‘Cats on the board with an early 2-0 lead.
Trenton Quartermaine led off the second with a single to get Ball State into the hit column, before Silseth induced a weak pop-up, strikeout, and a one-hopper to short to get out of the jam.
Silseth got into a bit more danger later in the game when he had a runner on first and his pickoff got away from Tyler Casagrande, allowing for Noah Navarro to reach third before a fly out to left ended the inning without any damage on the scoreboard.
Donta’ Williams led off the third for the Wildcats with a five-pitch walk, and Jacob Blas followed up with an infield single, presenting the Wildcats with yet another dangerous scoring opportunity for the second time in three innings.
Kobe would follow that up with a fly out to left, and Williams utilized his speed to move to third, but Blas was gunned down at second for an unconventional double play. A Boissiere ground out ended the Wildcats’ efforts in the third.
Pitching coach Nate Yeskie made his first appearance to the mound in the fourth when Silseth gave up a pair of baserunners. However, whatever Yeskie said seemed to have worked, as Chase struck out the next batter on three pitches to end the Cardinals’ rally.
After a fruitless bottom half of the inning for Arizona, Silseth came back in with a dominating performance in the top of the fifth with a pair of strikeouts for the Wildcats.
Arizona offense came to life in the bottom of the fifth to seal the win for the Wildcats.
A Donta’ Williams walk to start the bottom of the fifth, forced Ball State to go to the bullpen, ending Weatherly’s night. Blas welcomed incoming pitcher Zach Losey to the ball game with a line-drive single, bringing Kato to the plate once again with a pair of ‘Cats on the bases.
This time, Kobe was able to beat out a bunt to load the bases, setting up Branden Boissiere. Just a few pitches in, Boissiere would hit a slow grounder to second to move the runners each up a base, giving Arizona a 3-0 lead.
Holgate would then be walked to load the bases back again, this time bringing Daniel Susac to the plate with one out. However, he could not convert, grounding into a 4-6-3 double play to end the Wildcats rally.
Silseth found himself in a bit of danger in the sixth as a walk and a hit by pitch brought the tying run to the plate with just one out in the inning. After loading the bases with two outs on a hit batter, Silseth gave way to Preston Price who delivered a clutch strikeout of Aaron Simpson to keep the shutout intact.
What appeared to be early trouble in the top of the seventh with a pinch-hit triple from Decker Scheffler, turned into an out as he missed second base. After a walk, Price bounced back with a pair of strikeouts to end the Cardinals’ at-bat.
Price’s fine relief appearance was capped off with a three-pitch strikeout to start the eighth before giving way to Ian Churchill, who took the Wildcats through the rest of the inning before giving way to Vince Vanelle who closed things out in the top of the ninth for the win.
Silseth got the win going to 1-0 on the year, while Vanelle picked up his first save of the season for the Wildcats.
Up Next for Arizona Baseball
The Wildcats and Cardinals will meet again tomorrow evening for game two of the four-game set, with the Wildcats sending Chandler Murphy to the mound to square off against Chayce McDermott of Ball State. The game will be live on ArizonaWildcats.com. As always, Bear Down, Arizona.