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March 12, 2014

Wild first inning helps Wildcats cruise

Scott Kingery and Kevin Newman combined to go 4-for-6 with five runs scored, and freshman Morgan Earman pitched eight strong innings on Tuesday night to help Arizona cruise past Air Force, 14-2, at Hi Corbett Field.

The right-hander entered the game with a 4.26 ERA in five appearances for the Wildcats (9-9), but limited Air Force for just four hits and two runs - one earned - while striking out five.

"It was a good learning experience," said Earman (2-1), who did not allow a hit after the third inning. "I tried to think about less and just think about throwing strikes. The only thing I had going was being able to mix stuff up, my fastball had some run and kudos to them, they were good hitters."

Reliever Tyler Parmenter replaced Earman in the 9th and pitched a scoreless inning.

"I was glad to see Morgan Earman pitch and give us another possibility of an arm which is nice," head coach Andy Lopez said. "He is a talented kid, but he has to grow and take his normal strides."

In one of the most bizarre first innings you will ever see, Arizona walked five times, struck out four times (not a typo) recorded just one hit, and still managed to score seven runs.

How is that possible, you ask? Here is the sequence of how the beginning of the first inning transpired:

Kingery walk, Cody Ramer walk, balk by Falcons starter Jacob DeVries, Newman walk, Trent Gilbert strikeout, Zach Gibbons strikeout.

That's when things got a little strange. With the bases loaded and two out, Bobby Dalbec struck out, but reached base on the wild pitch - which allowed Kingery to score from third, and left the bases juiced. Two consecutive walks and an error on the shortstop gave Arizona an early four-run lead with Kingery back up to the plate.

Kingery launched the two-out pitch over left fielder Tyler Jones for a three-run double, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead after the first inning. Ramer then struck out for technically the fourth strikeout of the inning.

"As a leadoff (hitter), you just want to see some pitches and do whatever you can to get on base," Kingery said. "It came around to the top of the order and coach just told me to be hitter ready and be ready for the fastball. I saw one and put a good swing on it."

DeVries (0-1), who lasted just 2/3 of an inning, allowed six runs - three earned - and exited after facing eight batters.

The Falcons responded with an equally bizarre inning of their own. A walk and single with one out off Earman put runners in scoring position for Brian Sicher. The catcher singled to center on a short pop up that bounced over the head of the slipping Kingery, scoring Jones from second. A throwing error by Kingery put runners on third and second for Spencer Draws, who drew the walk - but Adam Blankenship scored on the passed ball, cutting the Arizona lead to 7-2.

But the 'Cats found their offense once again. With runners in scoring position, Dalbec lined a two-run single up the middle. Through two innings, the Wildcats had scored nine runs on just three total hits.

Wildcats tacked on yet another run in the third, without needing a hit. With two outs in the inning, Kingery walked, stole second base and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Draws.

Arizona scored once in the fifth and seventh, and twice in the eighth.

"We really needed to figure out what we were doing wrong, and I think we are on the right road to figuring out how we can produce runs more efficiently," Kingery said.

Arizona and Air Force will conclude the two-game series Wednesday at 1 p.m. Freshman Austin Schnabel will take the hill for the Wildcats.

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Danny PassovoyDanny Passovoy
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer

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