TUCSON, Ariz. – Veteran Konner Wade turned in a clutch pitching performance and a pair of freshmen teamed up in the bottom of the 10th inning to cap a crucial 4-3 walk-off victory for Arizona over visiting Southern California before a crowd of 3,509 on Friday evening at Hi Corbett Field.
Locked in a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the 10th, reliever Kyle Davis plunked freshman shortstop Kevin Newman to open the decisive inning. Sophomore catcher Riley Moore bunted Newman to second base, and freshman left fielder Zach Gibbons delivered a game-winning single up the middle as Newman beat the throw home to send the Wildcats home with a series-opening win.
The pair of freshmen highlighted an 11-hit offensive attack for Arizona (32-21, 13-15 Pac-12). Gibbons went 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI, while Newman earlier drove in a pair of runs on a key two-out hit in the fifth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Another freshman turned in a sensational defensive play to set up the walk-off win.
With Wade finally out of gas with one out in the top of the 10th inning, closer Mathew Troupe entered with a runner on first base and Adam Landecker at the plate. Landecker lined a ball down the right field line where freshman Scott Kingery raced over to make a diving catch.
After securing the catch, Kingery quickly got to his feet and threw out Garrett Stubbs, who was running on the pitch, to complete the Wildcats' fourth double play of the game and send the home side to the dugout with some momentum for the final rally.
Stellar defensive plays thwarted a Trojans' rally in the bottom of the ninth, too.
After Dante Flores led off with a single, he was thrown out by Moore trying to steal second base. Later in the inning, Timmy Robinson singled to right field, but rounded first base too far and was thrown out by Kingery as Wade covered the bag and applied a nifty tag to end the inning.
USC (20-34, 10-18 Pac-12) opened the scoring with a run in the fifth inning. Flores tripled with one out and came in to score on Robinson's sacrifice fly.
The Wildcats wasted no time answering back.
First baseman Joseph Maggi hit a one-out double and centerfielder Johnny Field was hit by a pitch. Trent Gilbert followed with a single that was going to load the bases as Maggi was held at third, but Field continued around second base. That forced Maggi to try to score and he was thrown out at the plate.
Left with runners at second and third, Trojans' starter Bob Wheatley intentionally walked Brandon Dixon. Newman stepped to the plate and roped a single to left field to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs to put the Wildcats on top, 2-1.
Arizona added another run in the sixth after Gibbons led off with a single and moved to second on Kingery's bunt. One out later, Maggi delivered a key two-out single to score Gibbons and push the lead to two runs.
The two-run margin did not last long as USC scored twice in the top of the seventh to tie the game, 3-3. Kevin Swick tripled to begin the inning and scored on Flores' sacrifice fly. Later, Robinson reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and scored the tying run on Bobby Stahel's single.
Wade eventually worked into the 10th inning to complete his longest career outing and one of his best starts of the season. The righty allowed only three runs and scattered 11 hits with one strike out in 9.1 innings. He did not walk a batter, but did hit three Trojans.
Troupe (6-0) earned the victory as his one and only pitch turned the game over to the bottom of the 10th to set up the walk-off victory.
Wheatley pitched six complete innings with three runs allowed on nine hits in a no-decision. Reliever Kyle Davis (L, 4-4) took the loss after pitching 3.1 innings with one run allowed on two hits and a walk.
The two teams will continue the three-game series on Saturday at 6 p.m. (MST) at Hi Corbett Field.
GAME NOTES: Arizona improved to 11-6 in one-run games this season … The Wildcats are now 2-0 in extra-inning games in 2012. They defeated Alabama State by the same score, 4-3, on April 27 in another 10-inning affair … The victory was the sixth for UA in its final at-bat, including four at Hi Corbett Field … Over the last two seasons, UA has won 16 games in its final at-bat, with 12 of the outcomes being decided in front of the home crowd … Riley Moore reached base for the 25th consecutive game … Kevin Newman improved to 4-for-9 with the bases loaded this season with a two-out single in the fifth inning … Zach Gibbons collected a career-high four base hits. He entered the night with four hits in his previous seven games … The four double plays turned by the Wildcats were their most since also turning four against Harvard on March 3, 2012. The school record is five set three times.
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