Rio Gomez finished his first season at Arizona by – what else – starting.
The redshirt freshman left-hander made his first collegiate start Thursday night, tossing seven shutout innings to lead the Wildcats to a 9-0 victory over Abilene Christian at Hi Corbett Field.
Gomez (W, 2-0) spent much of his first season as a matchup arm with 14 appearances out of the bullpen, but his effort on the mound against the Wildcats from Texas proved he could have a bigger role in the future. In his starting debut, he racked up a career-best eight strikeouts, allowed only two hits and worked around four walks.
Kevin Newman went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three batted in to pace a 15-hit offensive attack. Bobby Dalbec ripped a pair of doubles and drove in two runs out of the cleanup spot, adding to a potent middle of the order that saw the No. 2-5 slots in combine for 10 hits.
Arizona (29-23) touched up starter Nate Cole (L, 0-3) for three runs in second and tacked on four more in the fourth for a commanding lead seven-run lead. The righty was chased after four innings in which he surrendered seven runs – five earned – on seven hits and five walks.
Abilene Christian (15-38) mounted one key threat against Gomez, though it was the lefty's own doing. With two outs in the fourth, Gomez issued three consecutive walks before striking out designated Jeff Clark to skirt trouble.
From there Gomez settled back in and kept the visiting Wildcats off balance. He allowed just one more base runner over the next three innings before issuing a leadoff walk in the eighth.
Cody Moffett then replaced Gomez, who had pitched a career-best seven-plus innings. Moffett retired all five batters he faced to end the game, including a line-drive double play to erase the runner he inherited in the eighth.
The same two teams will meet again Friday evening at 6 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Rio Gomez and Cody Moffett combined for the fifth shutout thrown by the Arizona pitching staff this season … Gomez entered the contest with a 1.29 ERA over 14.0 innings pitched this season. His 7.0 shutout innings lowered his ERA to 0.86 … Bobby Dalbec drove in a pair of runs, pushing his RBI tally to 52 … Kevin Newman tallied four hits for the fourth time this season. He also stole two bases, running his season total to a Pac-12-leading 21 … The Wildcats combined for a season-high six stolen bases … Scott Kingery, the Pac-12 batting leader, collected a hit in his final at-bat. His 1-for-6 night at the plate lowered his average from .402 to .396. The only other time Kingery has been below .400 this was following a 1-for-4 game in the season opener.
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