Hamlin's debut takes series

TUCSON, Ariz. – Cody Hamlin tossed seven strong innings on the mound and received a healthy dose of run support as the Arizona baseball team brushed off a Saturday setback with a 7-1 victory Sunday at Hi Corbett Field to take two-of-three games from visiting Kent State.

A junior college transfer from Western Nevada College, Hamlin (W, 1-0) was in control throughout his first start as a Wildcat. The redshirt sophomore right-hander allowed just one run and scattered four hits, while striking out three Golden Flashes in the decisive victory.

Sophomore cleanup hitter Zach Gibbons paced the offensive support with a pair of hits, two runs scored and a run batted in. Freshman first baseman Bobby Dalbec chipped in the first three hits of his career out of the sixth spot, while scoring a run and driving in another.

Arizona (2-1) won its season-opening series for the 20th-consecutive season dating back to 1994, and did so in front of nearly 10,000 spectators over the weekend. A crowd of 2,853 was on hand for the rubber game Sunday.

The Wildcats broke through with the game's first run in the home half of the second inning when Gibbons led off with a single and was bunted to second by Scott Kingery. A wild pitch allowed Gibbons to move to third, setting up an RBI chance for Dalbec who smoked a single up the middle.

In the third, Arizona tacked on another run. Joseph Maggi opened with a single and stole second base. After a groundout, Trent Gilbert's single to centerfield put the Wildcats on top, 2-0.

Kent State (1-2) scored 11 first-inning runs on Saturday evening, but Hamlin retired the first eight batters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts in the opening frame. Jon Wilson was the only hitter to reach base against Hamlin the first time through the order when he dropped down a bunt single with two outs in the third.

An inning later, the Golden Flashes scratched across their only run of the game off Hamlin. Alex Miklos was hit by a pitch to open the inning and he stole second before moving to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Zarley Zalewski doubled home Miklos, but that was all Kent State could muster.

Arizona found some breathing room with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Dalbec reached with a one-out single to start the rally, and Cody Ramer with a single to leave runners at the corners. A wild pitch thrown by starter Michael Clark allowed Ramer to move into scoring position, and catcher Jordan Berger drove in both runners with a single to right field.

Clark (L, 0-1) suffered the loss with four runs allowed on seven hits over four complete innings. He turned the game over in the fifth to sixth different pitchers who went the rest of the way.

The Wildcats put together another two-run frame in the sixth after Gibbons again sparked the offense with a leadoff single. Kingery and Dalbec followed with singles of their own to load the bases for Ramer, who delivered a two-run single up the middle to push the lead to 6-1.

The scoring was complete an inning later when Gibbons' sacrifice fly drove in Kevin Newman.

Hamlin turned the game over to sophomore Tyger Talley, but the righty struggled in his two innings of work. Talley walked a pair of batters and hit another, but an inning-ending double play in the eighth and three fly outs in the ninth kept the Golden Flashes from mounting a late rally.

Arizona continues a season-opening 23-game homestand with five games at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats welcome Utah Valley for a pair of mid-week games (Feb. 18-19) before hosting Alcorn State (Feb. 21-23) next weekend. First pitch Tuesday evening against the Wolverines has been set for 6 p.m. (MST).