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February 27, 2013
The No. 20-ranked Arizona Wildcats had their 12-game home winning streak snapped Tuesday night, losing to Utah Valley, 3-1, at Hi Corbett Field.
With a runner in scoring position and the potential tying run standing at first in the bottom of the ninth, UA catcher Riley Moore struck out to end the game.
It was the first loss at Hi Corbett for the Wildcats (7-2) since Game 2 of a three-game series with Arizona State on May 26, 2012. It also was the second consecutive loss Arizona suffered at the hands of Utah Valley (4-4), losing in April of last year.
Tyler Crawford (1-1), in his second midweek start of the season, earned the loss for the Wildcats. The lefty lasted just 2 1/3 innings and gave up all three Wolverines runs (one earned).
"His velocity was down a little bit," UA head coach Andy Lopez said of Crawford. "It wasn't like he got beat up and gave up six."
While that may be true, it was looking, however, as though Crawford was headed that way before getting yanked after 56 pitches for senior Nick Cunningham.
Cunningham, whose 5 2/3 innings pitched was a new career high, was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats - who had just five hits of their own.
"Fastball worked really well, especially early in innings because my [velocity] was up," said Cunningham, whose five strikeouts matched a career high as well. "Normally I have a curveball, but I had to make some adjustments and go to my slider. It actually worked pretty well for me."
After walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth, Lopez signaled closer Mathew Troupe in from the bullpen, effectively ending Cunningham's night. The Los Angeles native closed out the side in order.
With one run scored, Arizona also matched its lowest run total since May 25, 2012, when the Wildcats out-pitched Arizona State, 1-0.
The Wildcats single run came on a Trent Gilbert RBI single to center field in the fourth inning. Gilbert now has 13 RBIs on the season.
"Really disappointed in that performance," said Johnny Field, who scored the game's only run on Tuesday. "The offense as a whole just did a horrible job of leaving guys on base all night and not coming up with any big hits."
The Wolverines, however, came up with a few big hits in the second and third to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.
Following an error by Brandon Dixon and single by catcher Colby Croft, Utah Valley's Kade Andrus grounded into 6-4-3 double play, scoring Kai Hatch from third. Two batters later, third baseman Beau Kallas sailed a deep pop fly into left field, into the blinding lights and over the head of Joseph Maggi for an RBI triple.
With one out and runners on the corners in the third, Lopez switched from Crawford to Cunningham. Hatch subsequently skied a pop fly deep enough into center field to score Willie Pratt, a runner who still belonged to Crawford, from third for the Wolverines' third run.
Wolverines starter Andrew Freter (1-0) got his first win of the season and reliever Brian Whatcott earned his second save.
Freter allowed just three hits and an unearned run in his 5 1/3 innings of work.
The series ends Wednesday at 1 p.m., at Hi Corbett Field. The pitching matchup will feature a pair of left-handers, Ty Hansen (0-0, 3.86) of Utah Valley and Cody Moffett (0-0, 0.00) of Arizona.
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer
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