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February 17, 2013

No. 24 Arizona recovers, sweeps Coppin St.

It took five pitchers to do the job, but the No. 24-ranked Arizona Wildcats completed the opening weekend series sweep over the visiting Coppin State Eagles, winning 13-9 Sunday at Hi Corbett Field.

The Wildcats (3-0) hit through the lineup in the first inning to jump out to a five-run lead against Coppin State starter Anderson Burgess. Trent Gilbert rang in the scoring with a two-run single that skipped past the shortstop and third baseman. Three batters later, JC transfer Sam Parris lined a single into left field, bringing home Gilbert and Brandon Dixon. After Joseph Maggi drew a walk, freshman Kevin Newman shot one into right field, driving home Tyler Parmenter for the fifth run of the inning.

Arizona scored once more in the second and three times in the third to take what looked to be a commanding 9-4 lead.

Coppin State (0-3) came roaring back in top of the fourth with a five-run inning to tie the game, 9-9.

Right-handed pitcher Stephen Manthei started the game for the Wildcats, but lasted just three innings before being pulled for Tyler Hale. The senior didn't fair much better, lasting a measly two-thirds of an inning on the hill and helped give the Eagles life.

With the bases loaded, David Hamlett drove Hale's pitch deep into right-center. Johnny Field's diving attempt came up short and the ball trickled all the way to the wall, allowing Hamlett ample time to round the bases for the game-tying, inside-the-park grand slam.

On the day, Manthei and Hale combined to allow nine runs in 3 2/3 innings with three walks.

"My fastball location just wasn't very strong today, and that really hurt me," Manthei said. "I'll be fine, just need to pound the zone a little better."

Head coach Andy Lopez, who is now 31-5 in opening weekend series with the Wildcats, agreed.

"We felt like we could really work the outer-half (of the plate) against this group, they have a very quick front side," Lopez said. "We called out and it's in, we called out and it's middle, we called out and it's way out. Both Manthei and Hale did a poor, poor, poor job of locating their fastball more than anything."

The Cats answered, adding on runs in the fourth and fifth to take an 11-9 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.

With runners on second and third, right fielder Maggi singled to left field, bringing home the final two runs of the game and securing the Wildcats' victory.

Augey Bill earned the victory in his first outing of the season, reliever Myles Taylor picked up the loss for the Eagles and Mathew Troupe snagged his first save of the year.

In the fourth inning with two outs, Lopez pointed to the bullpen to call in Bill (1-0). In 3 1/3 innings of work, the longest outing of his career, the 6-9 lefty struck out three Eagles hitters and allowed one run.

"I felt confident that I could go out there and get the job done," Bill said. "I knew my offense would get us some more runs so we would get back ahead and win the game."

Bill was replaced in the eighth inning after giving up a leadoff single to Eagles catcher Alex Brown. Tyler Crawford shut down two consecutive batters and was taken out for closer Mathew Troupe, who fanned all four batters he faced.

Lopez said following the game that pitchers Nick Cunningham and Crawford would start on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, at Long Beach State.

"Good weekend, good win," Lopez said. "I thought we ran the bases really well, created some runs for us, and played good defense all weekend, which was nice."

Danny PassovoyDanny Passovoy
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer

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