Arizona baseball eliminated from NCAA tournament after consecutive losses – The Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball eliminated from NCAA tournament after consecutive losses – The Daily Wildcat

Two weeks ago, Arizona pulled off an improbable victory after falling behind against Oregon State University in the regular season finale to win the Pac-12 Championship. This past Sunday, May 26, the Wildcats once again fell behind in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game against the University of Southern California and once again found a way to achieve a decisive victory. Throughout the season, Arizona had developed an annoying habit of digging into holes only to miraculously come back and win in the late innings. Many of these wins came at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, where the Wildcats posted eight wins during the season.

However, the Cardiac Cats’ magic finally ended in the Tucson Regional when the Wildcats were eliminated after losing consecutive games to Grand Canyon University and Dallas Baptist University. In both games, the Wildcats’ top starting pitchers struggled as their bats stalled, scoring just 4 runs total between the two games.

Day 1: Friday, May 31

Game 1: Arizona vs GCU at 6 p.m.

In front of a record attendance of 8,798 at Hi Corbett Field, decisive successes for the Antelopes and a lack of late production from Arizona’s offense allowed GCU to pull away and win the first game of the Tucson Regional 9-4..

“We didn’t play very well tonight,” Arizona head coach Chip Hale said. “They played well. They made the plays. “They made some really tough ones and we just didn’t do it.”

The turning point came at the end of the sixth. With Arizona leading 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded, GCU right fielder Eddy Pelc worked a two-strike count before hitting a Clark Candiotti fastball to deep center field.. Brendan Summerhill took a step before retreating towards the wall, but he couldn’t reach the ball. which fell on a bases-clearing double that gave the Antelopes a 5-3 lead..

“It looked like (Summerhill) broke in and tried to get back in there,” Hale said. “I think when you try to do too much sometimes, that’s what happens. “The bases are loaded, you want to make a big play to save the game.”

GCU entered the game with a 2-1 record against Arizona on the season, although those three games had been midweek contests with the Wildcats starting in the bullpen. This was the First time the Antelopes saw CandiottiArizona’s starter on Saturday nights all season.

“We’re playing with the house money,” Pelc said. “I think there was definitely some familiarity with playing at the U of A, so we had a lot of confidence going in. We were comfortable, but we knew it was going to be a dogfight.”

In an unusually sloppy performance, Candiotti issued a a season-high five free passes via three walks and a pair of pitches. After allowing a home run to Tyler Wilson On the second pitch of the game and another run in the second inning, Candiotti settled in with three straight hitless innings before the disastrous sixth.

“Walks and hit batters are not typical things for us,” Hale said. “We have been better strike throwers. “We knew the strike zone was tight.”

GCU was able add 5 insurance runs after Candiotti left the game even though Arizona only allowed four more hits. In the top of the ninth, Zach York’s 2-run double was the Antelopes’ only hit of the inning.

“We’ve been tough to strike out at the plate,” GCU head coach Greg Wallis said. “We have been tough with two strikes. I thought we were just throwing away some questionable pitches that called in our favor.”

GCU starting pitcher Grant Richardson was effective in getting out of trouble against the Arizona lineup, He only allowed one earned run in six innings despite allowing five hits and four walks. Induced Richardson two key double plays that ended the inning while striking out five Arizona batters.

“It started with Grant doing really well on the mound,” Wallis said. “I told the guys after the game that I’m proud of them, not because of what the scoreboard said after the game, but just the way we approached it. We did it with the intention of playing great baseball and we did it.”

After taking the initiative, GCU used starting pitcher Isaac Lyon to relieve Grant Richardson. Lyon proceeded to shut down Arizona’s lineup in three scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing just two hits.

Arizona took advantage of a pair of walks and singles to create 3 runs in the bottom of the second. Senior right fielder Emilio Corona hit a fielder’s choice to score one of the runs in his first at-bat since breaking his hand against Oregon State.. Corona played well in the field but had trouble producing at the plate, going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

“It won’t be 100 percent until next year,” Hale said of Corona. “He is fighting and doing the best he can (…) he is a leader on the team and we have to give him the opportunity to be there.”

The loss meant the Wildcats would have to win four straight games if they wanted to win the Tucson Regional, a difficult task in the face of tough competition in a postseason tournament.

“When we were in the hunt for the conference title, we were constantly in that position and that feeling,” Mason White said heading into an elimination game. “So I think this group has a very good feel for playing furiously, playing with your back against the wall and things like that. So we are not afraid.”

Day 2: Saturday June 1

Game 2: Arizona vs. Dallas Baptist

A sea of ​​arms hung over the railing of the Arizona dugout when Ritchie Morales’ fly ball fell harmlessly into the glove of Dallas Baptist right fielder Alex Pendergast. In 3:46 pm, on a sunny 100 degree day at Hi Corbett Field, The Wildcats’ impossible season is over. Arizona players hugged each other as the Dallas Baptist dugout emptied in celebration of surviving another day.

Unlike last night, where the Wildcats were victims of mistakes, poor defensive reads and too many free passes, Dallas Baptist’s win over the Wildcats was dominant. Jaron DeBerry stopped Arizona hitters during six innings, throwing 118 pitches in the process. Tom Poole hit two home runs in consecutive at-bats that produced 4 runs. Cumulative Dallas Baptist 12 hits compared to Arizona’s five. In almost every statistical category, the Patriots simply outperformed the Wildcats through nine innings during their 7-0 victory.

The source of Arizona’s problems can be attributed in part to consecutive tough outings by its best starting pitchers. Cam Walty, the hero of the regular season The final against Oregon State and the Pac-12 tournament title game against USC allowed a season-high 6 earned runs in just four innings pitched.

“It wasn’t the same crisp things we had seen,” Hale said. “Cam had the arsenal to fight these guys really well. He just didn’t have the good cutter out of him today. You saw when Kyler (Heyne) came in, he was really able to use his cutter, and the same with (Tony) Pluta, to neutralize them. He just didn’t have it today and that happens.”

When Hale came to the mound to throw Walty from the game after a second Dallas Baptist home runhe took a moment to thank his senior starter and give him a hug.

“I just thanked him for everything he’s done,” Hale said. “All the infield players and of course there was Adonys (Guzmán), the catcher everyone told him, ‘we wouldn’t be here without you and thank you for gutting it today.’ I just gave him a big hug. These guys, I asked them before the game, let’s go out there for two and a half hours, three hours and whatever you have, give it to me. Give it to this club. Give it to this university today and see what we can do. It didn’t work out, but they did the best they could.”

Both Dallas Baptist home runs came off the bat of designated hitter Tom Poole, who drove in 4 runs and put Arizona in an insurmountable hole.

“These zones for regionals have been tight,” Poole said. “So we’re going to use that to our advantage and really get it up the middle of the plate and get a pitch that we can drive. In that first at-bat, I found that I didn’t really get much. The second at-bat, I definitely made the adjustment and just went after it.”

Arizona had a few opportunities to score on DeBerry, getting the runners in. scoring position in the first, fourth and fifth innings, but failed to capitalize. By the time DeBerry, who finished with six strikeouts, left the game due to a high pitch count after the sixth inning.

“We knew they’re a very aggressive team,” DeBerry said, talking about their approach on the mound. “They have some guys with some power, but they like to swing well. So right off the bat, if I can hit my breaking ball like I did, that sets everything up and makes it a lot easier to go deeper into games when they have to think about five different pitches instead of just a couple.”

Heyne and Pluta, two of Arizona’s best relievers all season, He pitched two scoreless innings a piece and combined to allow just one hit. Anthony “Tonko” Susac, who earned the closer job after struggling as a brief midweek starter early in the season, He got two quick outs in the top of the ninth before giving up an unnecessary insurance run on consecutive hits. In the bottom of the inning, the Wildcats got another runner in scoring position thanks to a walk by Breyfogle and a single by Corona before Morales’ fly ball sealed his fate..

According to Hale, the team never gave up.

“Even in the ninth inning today, guys were screaming and yelling for them to get a hit,” Hale said. “I was very happy that Emilio (Corona) took a hit after the bad hand fracture and was back there. That sums up this club. “They are just never going to die and I am very proud of them.”

Hale and Caulfield reflected on what the team accomplished in the game and in the season.

“I’m glad we played our last game here. It didn’t end the way we wanted, but I’m so grateful,” Caulfied, a fifth-year student, said before breaking down in tears, prompting Hale to pat him on the back.

“I’m going to look back on this season as a great success,” Caulfield said. “Not just for the guys at the club, but for Chip and the university as a whole. They doubted us all year and to get as far as we did, today we can walk away from Hi Corbett saying this year is a success. We would like this to end differently and our goal is obviously to win a national championship here every year. But we can’t bow our heads because they doubted us, they chose us to finish 9th in the (Pac-12) and our guys bounced back.”