TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona baseball team scored five runs in the second inning to spot Austin Schnabel a comfortable lead, and the Wildcats held on to defeat Eastern Michigan, 7-3, in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
Arizona (1-0) found itself trailing by a run in the second inning, but swiftly answered with a big inning to delight the opening day crowd of 3,280 at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats scored five runs on five hits and then never looked back.
A sophomore right-hander, Schnabel (1-0) earned his first career victory with 6.2 innings of steady pitching. He allowed three runs on six hits, but racked up eight strikeouts and issued only one walk.
The 6-foot-5 hurler gave up an early run when surrendered three consecutive base hits in the second inning, the last a run-scoring single by Marquise Gill. Schnabel's only walk of the game loaded the bases with two out in that frame, but he bounced back to strike out John Montgomery to prevent further damage.
The Wildcats gave their pitcher breathing room in the home half of the inning with four-straight singles.
After Zach Gibbons singled, JJ Matijevic doubled to put two in scoring position. Bobby Dalbec drove in the tying run with a single, then Jared Oliver delivered his first career base hit to give the home side the lead for good.
Later in the inning, Scott Kingery blasted a two-run triple to centerfield. Kingery would score the fifth run of the inning on a wild pitch thrown by Eagles' starter Ryan Lavoie.
Lavoie (0-1) settled down after the second inning, but took the loss. The right-hander was charged for five runs on seven hits over 6.0 innings of work. He struck out five and walked one.
His counterpart worked into the seventh inning, but the Eagles struck for two more runs. John Rubino lunged across the plate to drive a two-out, two-strike triple into the right field corner, and he later scored when reliever Cameron Ming skipped a wild pitch to the plate that catcher Riley Moore was unable to block.
With the lead cut to 5-3, Arizona turned to last year's Saturday starter – Cody Hamlin – to pitch the eighth inning. The side-arming righty worked around a two-out error and then benefitted from insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Tyler Krause tripled off reliever Sam Delalane, and Moore followed with a run-scoring triple of his own against another reliever, Michael Marsinek. Moore would score UA's seventh and final run on a passed ball.
Hamlin, after entering the eighth holding a two-run lead, earned the save when he struck out the side in the ninth to clinch the win. He finished his 2.0 hitless innings with five strikeouts.
The Wildcat pitching staff combined to strikeout 14 with only walk issued. A Dalbec error at third base prevented an otherwise error-free game defensively.
Eastern Michigan (0-1) put its leadoff man on base just one time in nine trips the plate. The Eagles were just 2-for-12 batting with two outs.
The three-game series continues Saturday at 4 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field.