Cats Crush Cougars, 14-5

Cats Crush Cougars, 14-5

PULLMAN, Wash. – If Arizona put away an April full of frustration with Tuesday's blowout victory, then it opened May with an equally emphatic road win for what it hopes becomes a month of redemption.

Paced by JJ Matijevic's second homer in as many games, Arizona pounded out 15 base hits and drew a season-high 10 walks en route to a 14-5 victory in the series opener against host Washington State at Bailey-Brayton Field.

Arizona (26-17, 10-12 Pac-12) utilized a balanced offensive lineup with all nine starters picking up a base hit. Six had multi-hit games, four scored at least two runs and three had three runs batted in.

Despite falling behind 2-0 in the first, the Wildcats erupted for 10 runs over a four-inning stretch, then tacked on four insurance runs in the latter stages.

After tying the game 2-2 in the third, a five-run fifth fourth inning was sparked when Riley Moore's double down the right field line scored Kevin Newman from first base. Bobby Dalbec was then hit by a pitch before Michael Hoard singled home Moore. 

That brought Matijevic to the plate, and the freshman crushed a ball over the tall wall in straight-away center field for a three-run home run. The rookie first baseman, who was 2-for-4, ran his RBI tally to 10 over the last two contests.

The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas pedal in the fifth, forcing Cougar starter Sean Hartnett (L, 3-4) from the game. The right-hander left after surrendering nine runs – seven earned – on eight hits and six walks over 4.1 innings.

Hartnett's counterpart, Cody Hamlin (W, 5-3), did not have his best stuff, but grinded through eight solid innings. After rough first inning led to two runs, Hamlin held the Cougars to four total runs on 10 hits and one walk to earn his first win since the end of March.

The right-hander steadied himself by retiring 10 in a row from the end of the first through the start of the fifth innings. He shut out the Cougars in four straight frames before giving up a run in the sixth. But by then he had a 10-4 advantage.

It was a welcomed change of pace for Hamlin, who had suffered through a handful of tough defeats in recent weeks. Hamlin has not allowed more than four runs in any start this season, but his previous four Friday starts included seven total runs of support from the offense.  

That changed in a big way this Friday here in Pullman.

Moore had a pair of triples and drove in three runs, while Dalbec added a pair of hits and scored twice out of the cleanup spot. Hoard followed with two hits, two walks, three runs scored and another batted in, in front of Matijevic, who added double and two runs scored along with his three RBI.

The bottom third of the order produced as well. Jared Oliva had two hits, two runs scored and two more batted in, while Zach Gibbons went 2-for-4 and batted in three runs. In the nine-hole, Justin Behnke had an RBI and a run scored.

Washington State (24-20, 7-2) found plenty of hits throughout the game, but was unable to catch up to the Wildcats. The Cougars collected 13 hits and left eight on base, while hitting into a pair of double plays.

The Cougars staked themselves to an early 2-0 lead in the first. Cooper Elliott's one-out single was followed by an Ian Sagdal double. Ben Roberts then pushed home Elliott with a sacrifice fly, and P.J. Jones followed with an RBI two-out single.

Arizona's production could have been more, too. The Wildcats left 13 on base, including five in the first two innings when the home side was holding onto the 2-0 lead.

It wasn't until a costly error in the third created a flood of scoring for the Wildcats.

With a runner on first, Matijevic popped up in front of home plate, where first baseman Tyler McDowell bumped into catcher P.J. Jones and dropped the ball.

That set the stage for Oliva, who singled home Hoard. Then Gibbons drove in the tying run with his single. 

From there, the Wildcats opened the flood gates, just as they did Tuesday in a 17-6 rout of Arizona State. In the last two games, Arizona has banged out 35 base hits, including 11 for extra base, and scored 31 runs.

Arizona can win its first series since March with a victory over the Cougars Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PDT).

GAME NOTES: Freshman JJ Matijevic homered for the second-consecutive game and he now has 10 RBI in the last two contests. The first baseman extended his hitting streak to six games … Scott Kingery went 1-for-6 to hit safely for a six straight game. The junior also reached base in his 19th-consecutive start … The 14 runs were the most UA has scored in a Pac-12 game since posting 18 against USC on May 25, 2013, at Hi Corbett Field. It was the most runs scored in a conference game for the Wildcats since defeating Oregon, 14-5, on May 23, 2009 … Arizona has collected an extra base hit in 32-consecutive games … Arizona drew 10 walks in the game, the most since walking 13 times against Air Force on March 11, 2014.