TUCSON, Ariz. – Freshman first baseman Ryan Koziol headed a pesky bottom third of the batting order and fittingly recorded the game's final out as Arizona escaped a furious ninth-inning rally to complete a three-game sweep of visiting California with a 5-4 victory on Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
Arizona (21-11, 6-6 Pac-12) won for the sixth-straight time after opening conference play 0-6. The current winning streak evens the Wildcats' conference record to 6-6 and has moved the club from the bottom of the league standings into a tie for fifth place, just three games behind conference-leader Oregon.
Despite a three-run deficit in the ninth, California (16-16, 5-7 Pac-12) mounted a rally that nearly tied the game. Mathew Troupe, who earned a save on Saturday night, loaded the bases with no outs as he gave up a walk, a single and hit a batter to open the final frame.
Brenden Farney, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored, drove in a run with a single to left field that also moved the tying run into scoring position. Troupe, who entered with two outs in the seventh, induced a double-play off the bat of Devon Rodriguez, which did allow a run to score and also advanced the tying run to third.
The sophomore closer then faced pinch-hitter Andrew Knapp, who hit a sharp grounder to Koziol at first. Koziol fielded the ball cleanly and stepped on the bag for the final out, stranding the potential tying run at third and preserving a one-run victory.
Leaving runners on base was a theme, too, for Arizona, which stranded a season-high 14 on the base paths. Despite 15 base hits, the Wildcats three times left the bases loaded in the game, including in the second, fourth and eighth innings, respectively.
The bottom of the lineup did much of the damage for the Wildcats. Buoyed by Koziol's 3-for-5 day that included a run scored and an RBI, Arizona's bottom three hitters in the lineup combined to hit 7-for-11 with three runs and two RBI. Second baseman David Lopez and right fielder Joseph Maggi each had two hits and a run scored.
Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision.
Arizona's Tyler Crawford was solid in his second-consecutive weekend start. The lefty allowed just two runs on five hits and no walks over 5.1 innings on the mound.
California's Keaton Siomkin, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief on Saturday, gave the Golden Bears two innings of work on Sunday. He allowed just one run on five hits in his start.
Tyger Talley (W, 4-0) picked up his second-straight win out of the bullpen. The right-hander, who threw 1.2 innings on Saturday, pitched 1.1 scoreless innings today, scattering a hit and walk to go with a strikeout.
After the Golden Bears had tied the game, 2-2, Talley's lone punch-out came in the top of the sixth when he caught Grant Diede looking, leaving a pair of runners on base.
Arizona quickly regained the lead in the home half of the inning. Maggi singled and moved to second on Johnny Field's sacrifice bunt. A balk advanced Maggi to third, and he scored on a wild pitch to give the Wildcats a 3-2 edge.
The Wildcats then added a run in each of the following two innings. In the seventh, Koziol's third hit of the day drove in Ryan Newman to give Arizona 4-2 lead. In the eighth, Riley Moore was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the Wildcats' final run.
Five California pitchers allowed one run in the game, but it was Dylan Johnson (L, 1-2) who suffered the loss after allowing the go-ahead run to score in the bottom of the sixth. The Wildcats did not relinquish the lead thereafter.
Troupe earned his eighth save of the season in 2.1 innings of work – his second-longest outing of the season. The righty struck out two, walked two and allowed two runs on four hits.
Arizona third baseman Brandon Dixon, who was just 1-for-8 in the first two games of the series, went 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI to push his season batting average to .408. He also matched his career-high with three stolen bases, improving his season total to 25, which leads all Pac-12 players.
In its six-game winning streak, Arizona is hitting .352 as a team, led by Field's .500 average (13-for-26). The pitching staff boasts a 2.67 ERA and the defense has committed just four errors while turning five double plays.
The Wildcats travel to Pullman, Wash., to face Washington State (16-13, 3-5 Pac-12) in a three-game series at Bailey-Brayton Field next weekend (April 12-14). All three games will be broadcast on 1290 AM in Tucson.
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