Trent Gilbert went 5-for-5 with six RBIs and James Farris allowed three runs over eight-plus innings to help get the Arizona Wildcats back on track with an 12-3 victory over No. 10-ranked Mississippi State in the second game of the Hi Corbett Classic on Friday night.
The win snapped a five-game losing skid for the Wildcats that included sweeps in consecutive series by Seton Hall and Long Beach State.
"Needless to say it was nice to see us play good baseball," head coach Andy Lopez said. "It felt like about three, four months since we did this."
The Wildcats (7-7) did something they have only been able to do twice this season: score in the first inning. With two outs and no one on, Kevin Newman took a pitch from Mississippi State pitcher Brandon Woodruff into right-center field, past the diving C.T. Bradford for a double. In the subsequent at-bat, Gilbert, hitting .350 this season with runners in scoring position, drove a liner into the left field gap for a triple. Zach Gibbons added an RBI single to put UA ahead 2-0.
The Bulldogs (11-6) responded with a run in the second, but the 'Cats broke the game open with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth.
Following consecutive strikeouts by Willie Calhoun and Tyler Krause, leadoff hitter Scott Kingery singled up the middle, and a walk and hit batter in the next two at-bats loaded the bases for Gilbert. Already with two RBIs, the junior delivered again, knocking a three-run triple over the head of right fielder Demarcus Henderson to give Arizona a 6-1 lead and ending Woodruff's night on the mound.
Woodruff (1-2) allowed six runs through 4 1/3 innings on the mound and took the loss from Mississippi State.
Gilbert finished the night with three triples and just a home run shy of the cycle.
"He called up coach (Matt) Siegel and I guess they talked a little bit today before the ballgame and he said, 'I'm the guy, put me there,' and that speaks volumes for him," Lopez said of Gilbert.
Arizona didn't stop there. The Wildcats scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning off consecutive bases-loaded RBI singles by Bobby Dalbec and Calhoun, and a fielder's choice. The bats stayed hot through the seventh as Gilbert and Gibbons drove home a run apiece to give Arizona a 10-run lead late in the game. They scored for the 12th and final time on a Newman RBI single in the eighth.
The Wildcats went 10-for-20 with runners in scoring position and 8-for-16 with two outs.
Farris (3-1), coming off a six-run outing against Seton Hall and three innings of scoreless relief against LBSU, reminded Lopez why he deserved to be the Friday night ace. The junior scattered eight hits and punched out seven batters for his third win of the season.
Right-hander Tyler Parmenter allowed two runs to score - both charged to Farris - on a wild pitch and ground out, but sealed the victory for the Wildcats.
"I just really wanted to give my team a chance to win because we needed that W," said Farris, who worked into the ninth before being lifted. "We've been kind of struggling lately and hopefully we can turn it around after today."
The Wildcats return to action Saturday at 7 p.m. against UC Santa Barbara in their second game - actually Game 4 - of the Hi Corbett Classic. Cody Hamlin (2-1, 1.57) will take the hill for Arizona against Gauchos lefty Domenic Mazza (1-0, 4.15).
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Click Here to view this Link.Danny Passovoy
GOAZCATS.com Baseball Staff Writer