BB: Unprecedented start for Arizona - Tucson News Now

BB: Unprecedented start for Arizona

EUGENE, Ore. – Arizona has started 0-6 in conference play for the first time in school history. The Wildcats scored three times in the ninth, but left the tying run on base as 12th-ranked Oregon held on for a 7-6 victory to sweep the three-game series on Sunday afternoon at PK Park.

ItArizona (15-11, 0-6 Pac-12) trailed by four runs entering the ninth inning, but made things interesting against the Oregon bullpen, which had shut down the Wildcats' bats in the first two games of the series.

Joseph Maggi was hit by a pitch from reliever Garrett Cleavinger to lead off the ninth, which prompted the Ducks to turn to closer Jimmie Sherfy, who quickly struck out the first two batters he faced. The Ducks allowed Maggi to advance to second uncontested, which set up an RBI single for Kevin Newman to spark a two-out rally.

After Newman took second base without a throw, Brandon Dixon drove him in with a single to right field. Then Trent Gilbert, who was 3-for-5 on the day, delivered his second double of the game to knock in Dixon and put the tying run in scoring position. Zach Gibbons, who had three singles in the game, was unable to keep the rally going as he bounced out to third baseman Kevin Menjares to end the game.

Prior to the ninth, Arizona's struggles with runners in scoring position had continued. The Wildcats were just 3-for-12 and had stranded seven runners in the first eight innings. Despite going 3-for-4 in the final frame, Arizona finished the weekend 9-for-32 with runners in scoring position.

Oregon (18-6, 5-1 Pac-12) surged to leads of 5-1 after four innings and 7-3 after six innings. But the Ducks missed out on chances to open up the game even more as they stranded 10 runners in the first five innings, including the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

Josh Graham's RBI double in the second inning put Oregon on top, 1-0. An inning later, Mitchell Tolman added an RBI single and later, with the bases loaded, Graham drove in his second run of the game on an infield hit that ricocheted off the leg of reliever Tyler Crawford to push across the third run of the game.

Crawford had entered earlier in the inning to replace starter Cody Moffett (L, 2-2). The lefty suffered the loss after giving up two runs on three hits and two walks over two-plus innings.

Arizona's first run came in the top of the fourth when Gilbert and Gibbons reached on back-to-back one-out singles. With runners on the corners, Riley Moore's safety squeeze drove in Gilbert.

The Ducks added two more runs in the home half of the fourth off Crawford. Both runs came off a two-run single by Ryon Healy that extended Oregon's lead to 5-1.

In the fifth, Steven Packard drew a leadoff walk against Augey Bill and later scored Brett Thomas' run-scoring single to left field.

Arizona fought back with two runs in the top of the sixth after Gilbert and Gibbons again strung together consecutive hits. Moore collected his second RBI of the game with a groundout and Maggi later added a two-out RBI on a single to centerfield that cut the deficit to 6-3.

But the Ducks scratched across another run in the bottom of the sixth, which proved to be the game-winner. Tyler Buamgartner tripled to centerfield off Nick Cunningham and was then driven in on a sacrifice fly by Graham, his third RBI of the afternoon.

Oregon starter Cole Irvin (W, 4-1) earned the win after pitching 5.1 innings and giving up just three runs – two earned – on six hits and two walks. Jeff Gold was solid in relief, holding the Wildcats to two hits in his 2.2 innings of work before turning the game over to Cleavinger and Sherfy in the ninth.

Arizona was swept for the second-consecutive weekend, something the program has not faced since 2006. Considering conference series, the Wildcats had not been swept in back-to-back weekends since 1998.

The Wildcats return home to host their next six games, beginning on Thursday night against Utah. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz.

Copyright 2013 Arizona Athletics. All rights reserved.

David Kelly contributed to this story.

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