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February 16, 2014

Big first inning dooms Wildcats



It was over before it even began.

Zarley Zalewski collected four RBIs as part of an 11-run first inning and Kent State put the game out of reach early Saturday night at Hi Corbett Field.

In the end, the Golden Flashes (1-1) finished with nine hits and had seven of their nine players record an RBI in the first inning of their 14-3 win over the Arizona Wildcats (1-1).

"Give credit where credit is due," UA head coach Andy Lopez said after the game. "[Kent State] came out really prepared to play. Obviously the first inning was a ballgame. It's OK if you got Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, but it's tough to chase 11 runs."

The last time the Wildcats allowed at least 11 runs in an inning was April 29, 2009 in a 20-3 loss to Arizona State.

Wildcats starting pitcher Tyler Crawford (0-1) lasted just 1/3 of an inning, allowing five hits and seven earned runs over 25 pitches.

"I thought [Crawford] was very non-competitive. Not much presence. Didn't look like a starter, that's for sure," Lopez said.

Lopez went to the bullpen early, enlisting right-hander Nathan Bannister out of the pen. However, the sophomore suffered a similar fate. Bannister lasted just 1/3 of the inning as well and allowed four runs on 27 pitches.

"I don't think Bannister pitched all that poorly. I think Crawford set such a bad presence and tempo that kind of carried into Bannister's performance," Lopez said.

Left-hander Cody Moffett entered the game as the third pitcher in the first inning and actually had some success on the mound. The Gilbert, Ariz., native allowed just one run in 3 1/3 innings on the hill.

"[Moffett] was effective, but he wasn't anywhere near what I thought he would be in terms of velocity," Lopez said. "He's had a back injury for the last four or five weeks, little bit of a back tightness. Up until 10 days ago he wasn't even really throwing very much. He's still getting healthy."

The 'Cats clawed their way out of their scoreless deficit against Kent State starter Nick Jensen-Clagg, scoring on RBI singles from Kevin Newman and Riley Moore, and drove in another on a sacrifice fly by Newman in the fourth.

Newman finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

However, Lopez' offense was met with a swift response from Kent State. Cody Koch added an RBI single for the Golden Flashes in the third and Troy Summers scored on an error by third baseman Cody Ramer in the sixth to make the game 13-3.

Jensen-Clagg allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings, but finished a retired batter shy of qualifying for the win. Kent State reliever Eric Lauer (1-0) picked up the victory in 2 2/3 innings on the mound.

Former UA closer Mat Troupe got his first action of the season, coming to the mound in relief of Luke Soroko in the seventh. The junior gave up an RBI single and two walks - the run was charged to Soroko - but also fanned four batters in two innings.

"It's great to have him back," catcher Riley Moore said. "Me and him go back since freshman year, since summer in the Cape. I feel like there's a connection out there between us that just works."

Arizona responded to a T.J. Sutton RBI in the seventh with two RBI singles in the eighth to make it 14-5, but that's the closest the Wildcats would come in this one.

"Put it behind you and move on until tomorrow," Moore said. "We all know we don't like the taste of this and that was the post game speech for us. We need to flush it and come back tomorrow strong."

First pitch in the rubber match of the season-opening three-game series is scheduled for noon.

Danny PassovoyDanny Passovoy
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer

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