TUCSON, Ariz. – JJ Matijevic and the Arizona baseball team took out a month's worth of frustrations Tuesday night.
The freshman first baseman belted a first-inning grand slam that dismissed an early two-run deficit, and the Wildcats dispatched 10th-ranked Arizona State, 17-6, in a non-conference game at Hi Corbett Field.
Matijevic finished a double shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with seven runs batted in before he was lifted in favor of a defensive replacement in the sixth.
Bobby Dalbec also homered – a towering fifth-inning blast off the light pole beyond the 405-foot sign in right-center. He collected three runs batted in on that swing alone as part of a career-best six RBI of his in a 4-for-5 evening at the plate.
The top of the Arizona order set the stage for the big run-producing nights of Matijevic and Dalbec. Leadoff hitter Scott Kingery was 2-for-5 with a homer of his own, while Kevin Newman went 5-for-5 with fives runs scored in the No. 2-hole.
Arizona (25-17) snapped a seven-game home losing streak by pounding out 20 hits and set a season-high with 17 runs scored. The club had mustered only 16 runs over the previous seven games combined.
The Wildcats welcomed a flurry of hits with runners on base, something they lacked in a recent slide. The club was batting .227 with runners on base in the month of April, but broke through a 12-for-26 (.462) effort on Tuesday.
Robby Medel provided some much-welcomed long relief out of the bullpen, tossing 6.1 innings with only three runs – one earned – allowed. The righty scattered eight hits and did not walk a batter, while collecting two strikeouts.
Medel (W, 2-3) replaced Cody Hamlin, a weekend starter who was penciled in as Tuesday's starter with a limited pitch count on his regularly scheduled throwing day. Hamlin gave up two first innings runs, but was off the hook after the Wildcats scored five runs in the home half of the inning.
Ryan Hingst retired Kingery to open the game, but quickly surrendered five-consecutive base hits. The final was a towering grand slam over the batter's eye in centerfield.
Hingst (L, 2-3) was charged with the loss after allowing the five earned runs on five hits and a walk in 0.1 innings.
The Sun Devils trotted out seven pitchers in the contest, all of which yielded a base hit. Six of the the hurlers allowed a run.
Arizona State (28-13) picked up 13 hits of its own, but scored only two runs after the third inning as Medel and Rio Gomez, who pitched the final 1.2 innings, quieted the Sun Devils.
The Wildcats will hit the road and return to conference play this weekend with a three-game set at Washington State (24-19). The series begins Friday evening at 6 p.m. (PDT) at Bailey-Brayton Field in Pullman, Wash.
GAME NOTES:JJ Matijevic's second career home run was the first grand slam for a Wildcat since Riley Moore blasted on at Stanford on April 21, 2013. Matijevic joined Johnny Field (vs. Louisville on June 2, 2012) as the only Wildcats to hit a grand slam at Hi Corbett since moving into the facility for the 2012 season. Additionally, Matijevic became the first UA player with seven RBI in a game since Field tallied seven in that game against Louisville … Matijevic needed a double to become the first UA player to hit for the cycle since Bill Rhinehart did so twice in 2007. There have been 13 recorded cycles in Arizona history … Bobby Dalbec hit his conference-leading 13th home run of the season and drove in a career-best six runs … In five games against ASU this season, Dalbec hit 10-for-21 (.476) with four home runs, eight runs scored and 11 RBI … Kevin Newman posted a career-best 5-for-5 night at the plate. His five runs scored were also a new career best … The 17 runs scored were a season high for the Wildcats … Arizona has an extra base hit in 31-consectutive games … Scott Kingery reached base for the 18th-consecutive game.