TUCSON, AZ - Strong relief pitching and five unanswered runs over the sixth and seventh innings propelled the University of Arizona baseball team to a come-from-behind victory, 9-6, to finish a three-game sweep of Portland on Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
Three relievers combined for 4.2 scoreless innings of relief to slow the Pilots, who surged to a 6-4 lead after scoring five runs in the fifth inning against starter Tyger Talley.
Rio Gomez inherited a bases-loaded jam in relief of Talley and surrendered a two-run double to Cody Lenahan, which broke a 4-4 tie. But Gomez bounced back after an intentionally walk, inducing an inning-ending double play to limit the damage.
Nathan Bannister (W, 3-0) tossed 2.1 scoreless innings with just one hit allowed to earn the win. Closer Bobby Dalbec pitched a perfect ninth to preserve his second save of the season.
Arizona (15-4) scored twice in the home half of the sixth to even the game, 6-6. Justin Behnke singled and scored on Scott Kingery's double. Later, Riley Moore's single up the middle plated Kingery.
Portland (4-15) received a strong start from Davis Tominaga, who had thrown 0.2 innings of relief on Saturday night. Tominaga was charged for six runs, but just two were earned, as he scattered nine hits a pair of walks in the no-decision.
The Wildcats broke through in the seventh against reliever Billy Sahlinger (L, 1-1), who yielded three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
Ryan Aguilar drew a one-out walk in the decisive seventh, then scooted in to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run single from Zach Gibbons. Behnke then drew a walk, but the fourth ball went to the backstop allowing Aguilar to cross home with the go-ahead run.
Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, Kevin Newman hit a two-run double to left field, plating a pair of insurance runs for Bannister and Dalbec, who pitched clean eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
The top and bottom of the order did the damage for the Wildcats, who rapped out a dozen hits in the contest. Gibbons and Behnke combined for four hits and five runs scored out of the bottom two slots in the order, turning the lineup over for Kingery and Newman. The preseason All-Americans combined for six hits and three runs batted in out of the top two positions in the order.
Arizona finished its early-season non-conference slate on a six-game winning streak. The Wildcats now turn to their attention to the start of Pac-12 Conference play next weekend when Utah visits for a three-game set at Hi Corbett Field. The series begins Friday night at 6 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Arizona has won six-straight games, its longest winning streak since also winning six in a row from March 28 through April 7 of the 2013 season … With four hits in the game, Scott Kingery tallied his fourth four-hit game of the season … Kevin Newman capped a strong week with two hits Sunday. He collected at least two hits in all five games this week … The Wildcats completed a stretch of 19 games over 24 days to begin the season … Bobby Dalbec drew a walk to extend his streak of reaching base to 19-straight games … Kingery has reached safely in each of the last 15 games … Arizona improved to 14-0 this season when out-hitting the opposition … The Wildcats turned two double plays Sunday, giving them 19 on the season … Newman's two-run double in the seventh gave the Wildcats a 2-0 advantage in two-out RBI. The club has now outscored opponents 43-16 in two-out RBI for the season … Zach Gibbons was 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games. His batting average raised to .306 with Sunday's performance.