TUCSON, Ariz. – Trent Gilbert scored three runs and collected a career-high five runs batted in to pace Arizona to a 15-4 win over visiting Utah that secured the Wildcats a series victory on Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.
Gilbert finished 2-for-5 in the game and delivered a pair of two-run doubles to spark the Wildcats to big innings. Arizona scored five times in the third and later plated seven runs in the fifth to take out two weeks' worth of frustration hitting with runners in scoring position.
The Wildcats scored their 15 runs on 10 hits, but benefited from nine walks and three additional hit batsmen. The seven-run fifth inning tied their mark for most runs in an inning this season.
Arizona (17-11, 2-6 Pac-12) entered Friday's game batting just .254 (18-for-71) with runners in scoring position over seven conference games. While the Wildcats were only modestly better on Friday night (.316, 6-for-19), they collected seven two-out RBI in the game and four of their five extra base hits came with at least two runners on base.
The Wildcats found themselves in an unfamiliar place – leading early – when they scored without the benefit of a base hit in the bottom of the second. Gilbert led off with a walk and later scored on Zach Gibbons' groundout to hand the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage.
The five-run third inning was sparked by back-to-back leadoff singles by Joseph Maggi and Johnny Field. After a bunt, Brandon Dixon was intentionally walked to load the bases, which set up Gilbert's first two-run double of the game. Riley Moore later added a two-run triple and Gibbons drove in his second run of the game with a two-out single.
Trailing 6-0, Utah (12-12, 2-6 Pac-12) fought back against Wildcat starter James Farris in the fourth. The Utes scored twice in the fourth inning thanks to run-scoring doubles by Trey Nielson and TJ Bennett.
Then, an inning later, the Utes chased Farris from the game. Tyler Relf opened the top of the fifth with a single and Cory Hunt doubled him home to cut the deficit to just three runs.
Arizona called on Tyger Talley to relieve Farris, and the freshman answered the bell. Talley quickly induced a pair of fly outs and then escaped the inning with a strikeout to strand Hunt at third.
The seven-run explosion followed to effectively put the game out of reach.
The first three Wildcats to bat in the fifth drew walks, before Maggi's two-run double to left field opened the floodgates. Gilbert later added his second two-run double of the game and he eventually scored on a wild pitch. Kevin Newman followed with a triple and also scored on a wild pitch to cap the inning.
Talley (W, 2-0) worked a scoreless sixth inning and earned the victory. The right-hander did not allow a base runner and struck out two in two innings of relief.
Nick Cunningham entered in the seventh and earned a three-inning save – his second of the season. The senior righty allowed just one run on five hits and two walks in his outing.
Farris did not factor into the decision after lasting only four-plus innings. The junior gave up three runs on five hits and a walk to go with four strikeouts.
Utah starter Joe Pond (L, 2-3) suffered the loss. He, too, pitched just four innings and was charged with seven runs – six earned – on six hits and four walks. He struck out four.
The Utes relied on three relievers – Bret Helton, Ben Mordini and Jackson Goulder – to finish the game behind Pond. Helton yielded six runs in an inning of work, while Mordini and Goulder each surrendered one run in the final three innings.
After being swept in its first two conference series, Arizona will see if it can finish off a sweep of its own on Saturday. The Wildcats will send lefty Tyler Crawford to the mound to oppose Utah right-hander Dalton Carroll.
First pitch is scheduled for noon (MST) and the contest will be broadcast on 1290 AM in Tucson.
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