There were no signs of the 'Cardiac Cats,' but that's because there was no comeback needed as the Arizona Wildcats dismantled Kent State in their season opener Friday night at Hi Corbett Field, 13-1.
Senior right-hander James Farris (1-0) earned the win for the Wildcats, pitching 7 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and just one run allowed.
"James Farris was outstanding," UA head coach Andy Lopez said. "He's what you want (out of an ace) on a Friday night."
Farris took the mound for the Wildcats in the top of the first with a giant-sized chip on his shoulder. It was time for the senior to prove that coming back to Arizona - and putting a professional career on hold - was the right decision. Farris struck out the first batter and remained sharp the rest of the night, despite a hiccup in the third inning.
Kent State kicked off the scoring in the top of the third. With a runner on first, center fielder Alex Miklos lined a Farris fastball into the gap in left-center field for a two-out RBI triple that put the Golden Flashes up 1-0.
"I can't walk that guy in the third inning," Farris said. "The reason they scored is because I missed a pitch. I look at it as a good game, but there's a lot I can build off."
The Wildcats answered in the bottom half, with the help of a leadoff walk and a fielder's choice that put runners at first and third. With designated hitter Willie Calhoun at the plate, Kent State starter Brian Clark threw a wild pitch to the backstop, scoring Cody Ramer from third to tie the game at 1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Clark allowed a single up the middle, a walk and a wild pitch to put runners on first and third for freshman Bobby Dalbec. Clark gave up his second run of the game on a passed ball that was mishandled by catcher Tommy Monnot, then hit Dalbec to setup an RBI situation for Scott Kingery, who did not disappoint. The sophomore right fielder drove the 1-0 pitch deep into left field for a double.
Two batters later, Clark beaned Joseph Maggi to load the bases and then walked Kevin Newman to force in another run.
That ended the day for Clark (0-1), who drew the loss after allowing four runs through just 3 1/3 innings.
Out of the bullpen, Spencer Bryant didn't fair much better. The right-hander allowed a three-run double to Calhoun on his second pitch. The Wildcats sent across their seventh and final run of the inning on yet another wild pitch.
The freshman, Calhoun, finished the night 3-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBIs.
"That's why he's hitting in the two hole," Lopez said.
Riley Moore led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple to right-center field. In the next at-bat, Dalbec plated Moore with a sacrifice fly to center to push the lead to 9-1.
The Wildcats scored their last four runs of the game in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings on RBI singles from Trent Gilbert, Calhoun and Ramer, respectively.
Relievers Xavier Borde and Tyler Parmenter pitched the remaining 1 1/3 innings. The juniors combined to allow just one walk and shut down Kent State without issue.
"It was a good night, I'm not going to sit here and lie about that," Lopez said. "James pitched well, we had very productive at-bats and it went well. It's nice to see the young guys get involved ASAP."
Click Here to view this Link.Danny Passovoy
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer