Bullpen dominates for Arizona Baseball

Matthew Troupe continues to dominate at the back end of the Wildcats bullpen.
Matthew Troupe continues to dominate at the back end of the Wildcats bullpen.

TUCSON, Ariz. – The 16th-ranked Arizona baseball team relied on dominant relief pitching and a two-out rally in the seventh inning to defeat visiting Columbia University, 7-5, on Sunday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game series between the schools at Hi Corbett Field.

Joseph Maggi, who had been hitless in his previous 14 at-bats, broke out of his slump and broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh with a two-out, run-scoring single to center field that gave the Wildcats a one-run edge. A wild pitch later in the inning allowed a second run to score, and the two-run margin was plenty for Arizona's bullpen.

Right-handers Tyger Talley and Mathew Troupe combined for six shutout innings of relief as only two Lions reached base after the fourth inning. Talley relieved starter Cody Moffett with no outs in the fourth and pitched three innings of no-hit baseball, while Troupe tied his career high with six-strikeouts over the final three frames.

Arizona (13-5) faced an early deficit after the Lions scored three times in the top of the first. Zach Gibbons, who went 3-for-4, ignited the offense in the home half of the first with a leadoff single – the first of four singles in the inning. Kevin Newman drove in a run on his only hit of the day, and Trent Gilbert later added a two-run single to tie up the game.

Columbia (1-6) regained the lead in the third, but the Wildcats answered right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Johnny Field, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, led off with a double and moved to third on Brandon Dixon's bunt single.

Dixon, who has reached base in all 18 games, stole his conference-leading 14th base of the year, which drew an errant throw and allowed Field to coast home with the tying run. Gilbert later drove in his third run of the game on a groundout, and Arizona had its first lead, 5-4.

The Lions wasted no time tying the game in the fourth. David Vandercook hit a leadoff triple to right field, which forced Moffett from the game. Talley allowed the inherited run to score, but otherwise quickly worked the Wildcats out of the inning.

Talley allowed only two base runners to reach in his three innings – one from a catcher's interference call on David Real and the other on a walk to the final batter he faced to open the seventh.

After scoring four runs on six hits in two-plus innings against Columbia starter Joey Gandolfo, Arizona had less success against reliever Adam Cline. The righty allowed an unearned run in the third, but otherwise scattered three hits and two walks over 3.2 innings.

The Wildcats mounted their two-rally in the seventh against reliever Thomas Crispi. Gilbert singled and Ryan Koziol drew a four-pitch walk ahead of Maggi's go-ahead base hit.

Kevin Roy replaced Crispi and quickly walked Real, which loaded the bases. Roy then hurled a wild pitch that allowed Koziol to score, before Cody Ramer struck out to end the inning.

The two-run cushion was more than enough for Troupe. The righty retired all three batters he faced in seventh after taking over for Talley with a runner on first. In the eighth, Troupe gave up a one-out single, but otherwise struck out the side before working a percent ninth with two more punch outs to close the game.

The three-inning relief appearance earned Troupe (W, 2-0) his second victory of the season. He also earned the win on Friday night as the Wildcats scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-3 victory.

Crispi (L, 0-2) suffered the loss for the second time on the weekend after giving up the winning run on Friday.

The series win was Arizona's 22nd in the last 25 weekend series that Arizona has played dating back to the final month of the 2011 season.

Arizona continues an 18-game home stand with five more contests this week. The Wildcats host Butler for a two-game midweek set (March 12-13), which begins on Tuesday at 6 p.m. (MST) at Hi Corbett Field.

Next weekend, Pac-12 Conference play commences as Arizona hosts undefeated Oregon State (15-0) for a three-game series (March 15-17).

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