Well, it took 14 innings, nine pitchers and a clutch knock from an unfamiliar face, but the Arizona Wildcats got the job done on Tuesday night, defeating Utah Valley 8-7 at Hi Corbett Field.
Junior pinch-hitter Tyler Krause brought home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 14th, sailing the Braden Poole 2-1 pitch over the head of Jordy Hart in center field to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Arizona (3-1) trailed 6-0 after the first two innings.
"I just stayed with the game through the 14 innings and luckily I got my shot," said Krause, who was hitting for reliever and winning pitcher Morgan Earman. "It's definitely harder to be in the dugout than be on the field. You just have to stay focused. I'm glad I could pull it off."
Trailing 7-5 in the seventh, the Wildcats put the first two batters on base for designated hitter Willie Calhoun. The freshman chopped a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Joe Maggi from first while Kevin Newman advanced to third on the throw. Two batters later, a Zach Gibbons sacrifice fly to deep left field tied it up at 7.
Arizona rode their bullpen through the 14th, as five relievers allowed just six Wolverine batters to reach base thanks to terrific performances from Xavier Borde and Earman (1-0), who each recorded three strikeouts over two innings apiece, and the ever-so-talented Bobby Dalbec pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings after playing the front nine at first base.
Other notable contributors out of the pen were Tyler Parmenter and Luke Soroko.
UA starting pitcher Mat Troupe got off to a rocky start in his first appearance as a starter for the Wildcats. The converted closer gave up a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt before allowing three consecutive singles that brought home two runs for the Wolverines (1-3).
It didn't get much better for Troupe from there. The junior allowed four runs on four hits in the fourth - including a two-out, two-run triple to Craig Brinkerhoff - before head coach Andy Lopez yanked him for Cody Moffett. The left-hander struck out the only batter he faced in the inning and UA trailed 6-0.
Lopez said that Troupe will likely move back to the bullpen.
"The hardest thing is that you have to find out who the right guys are," Lopez said. "Sometimes that's painful. We got away with one tonight."
Moffett pitched the next 4 1/3 scoreless innings and gave up just two hits.
"Just wanted to hold them down and let our team comeback in the game," Moffett said. "I think I threw a pretty good slider today and kept the hitters off-balance.
It took until the fifth inning, but the Cats finally recorded their first hit with a leadoff single by Zach Gibbons. Up until this point, pitcher Ryan Evans had a perfect game intact.
The right-hander lasted five innings, allowed two runs and took the no-decision.
With one on and two outs, Cody Ramer approached the plate, having hit .500 in the previous series against Kent State. The third baseman ripped a single to right, and catcher Jordan Berger did exactly what he did on Sunday - come through in the clutch. With two strikes, Berger drove the offspeed pitch into right field to make the score 6-2.
The 'Cats continued to scratch back in the sixth. With one out, consecutive singles by Trent Gilbert and Gibbons and a walk to Kingery loaded the bases for Dalbec. But before the freshman could do his damage, reliever Nate Sylvester threw a wild pitch, scoring Gilbert from third and cutting the deficit to three runs.
With runners on second and third, Dalbec punched a two-run single through the left side of the infield, cutting the Utah Valley lead to 6-5 and setting the stage for the game-tying sequence.
On top of his performance on the mound, Dalbec was 1-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs.
Lopez said after the game that he expects Tyler Crawford to start on Wednesday, Cody Hamlin to start on Saturday and Dalbec to become the everyday closer.
The Wildcats head back to the diamond on Wednesday against Utah Valley at 1 p.m.
Click Here to view this Link.Danny Passovoy
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer