TUCSON, Ariz. – Tyger Talley and the University of Arizona baseball team were cruising through seven innings with a series victory in sight, but visiting Utah rallied for nine runs in the late stages to stun the Wildcats, 9-8, on Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
Talley tossed a two-hit shutout over his first seven innings, and turned the game over to his bullpen after walking a batter with one out in the eighth. With a seven-run cushion, the right-hander was poised to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Instead, Utah (6-12, 2-1 Pac-12) mounted a furious rally.
Facing sophomore closer Bobby Dalbec, the Utes went on to score five runs on three hits and a hit batsmen. Three of the runs scored on a bizarre hop that turned a Max Schuman base hit into a three-run triple when his line drive took a wild hop over right fielder Zach Gibbons.
Still, the five-run eighth inning left Utah trailing 7-5, and Arizona (16-6, 1-2 Pac-12) added what felt like a key insurance run in the home half of the inning.
The three-run lead quickly evaporated for Dalbec in the ninth as strong winds turned potential fly outs into extra base hits.
Josh Rose's double off the centerfield wall began a four-run rally in the top of the ninth. Kody Davis singled home Rose, and Davis crossed home on Cody Scagarri's double to left-center.
With the tying run at second, Dalbec was able to retire Dallas Carroll with a fly out. Then Wyler Smith grounded into the hole on the right side, where second baseman Scott Kingery dove to his left, but he could not glove the ball cleanly, and Scagarri scored from second.
On the play, Kingery's throw home was late and skipped away from catcher Riley Moore, allowing Smith to move up to second base as the go-ahead run.
Left-hander Xavier Borde was brought in to replace Dalbec on the mound. But Borde walked all three batters he faced, including defensive replacement Wade Gulden, who drew a bases-loaded walk to send Smith home with the eventual game-winning run.
After Borde's walk forced home Smith, left-hander Cameron Ming took over and struck out Rose – batting for the second time in the ninth – to limit the damage.
There was still more drama.
In the bottom of the ninth, Justin Behnke and Scott Kingery delivered back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with two outs. But reliever Tanner Thomas (W, 1-0) was able to strand the potential tying run as Kevin Newman, who had four hits in the game, flew out to right field.
Dalbec (L, 2-2) took the loss for the Wildcats after allowing seven runs on seven hits.
Neither starter factored into the decision, including Utah right-hander Jayson Rose, who allowed three runs on eight hits over 4.1 innings.
Arizona jumped out to an early lead when Kingery doubled and scored in the first. Then the home side added another run in the second, and Moore's solo home run to right-center made it a 3-0 advantage in the fifth.
The Wildcats appeared to put the game away with in the seventh inning against relievers Brock Duke and Trenton Stoltz, who gave up four combined runs on five hits and an error.
The damage could have been worse if not for Stoltz stranding two runners still on base when Kingery stepped to the plate and flew out to right field to end the inning.
Utah's victory snapped a string of three-straight seasons in which the Wildcats had won the conference series with the Utes. At the same time, Arizona failed to win its first league series of the year for the third-straight season.
Arizona will continue Pac-12 play next weekend when it travels to Palo Alto, Calif., for a three-game series at Stanford (9-8, 0-0 Pac-12). The series begins Friday, March 20, at 7 p.m. (PDT) at Sunken Diamond. The Pac-12 Networks will have a live television broadcast.