Johnson era starts in impressive fashion - Tucson News Now

Johnson era starts in impressive fashion

HOUSTON – Head coach Jay Johnson earned his first win as a Wildcat as Arizona defeated No. 24 Rice on the road. JC Cloney tossed a gem in his first-career start at Arizona as he went seven strong innings while giving up just four hits and one run. The junior college transfer also did not allow a walk.

“We were prepared to play tonight,” Johnson said. “They work hard and they have invested a lot. We have a mission statement and part of that statement is to play with energy. We will always play with class, but it was fun to see them play with energy.”

Things got started for the Wildcats in the second inning after JJ Matijevic was walked by Fox to start the inning. Ryan Haug bunted him over and Justin Behnke singled and eventually advanced to second base after Louis Boyd popped out to the catcher. Ramer then came up to bat and he singled to right field bringing in home Behnke and Matijevic.

In the very next inning, Ryan Aguilar walked and then Zach Gibbons was intentionally walked after Oliva stole second. Matijevic hit a ball to first baseman Connor Teykl, but he was not able to corral it as the ball rolled to right field. Aguilar came all the way around from second to make the score 3-0 Arizona.

In the fourth inning, the Wildcats had runners on second and third with Oliva at the dish. He hit a groundball to shortstop Tristan Gray and hustled down to first base, forcing a rushed throw that took Teykl off the bag. Boyd scored on the play and Behnke came around from second to score as well on a close play at the plate.

Arizona has their first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the fifth inning, but got right back to work in the sixth. Behnke led off with a walk and then advanced to second after Boyd popped up to the catcher. Ramer’s groundball to the right side of the infield moved Behnke to third, and then Oliva’s bunt base hit scored him to make the score 6-0 Wildcats.

Rice answered as Gray hit a leadoff solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, but that would be it for the Owls as Cloney struck out two of the next three batters.

In the top of the eighth, Boyd led off with a walk and Ramer laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move him to second. Oliva walked and Aguilar flied out to center field, but Boyd advanced to third base. Oliva then stole second and forced the catcher to throw the ball into centerfield. Boyd came home and Oliva advanced to third. Bobby Dalbec got into the action then as he hit a single to right field, scoring Oliva.

Cloney’s night was done after seven innings and Cody Moffett entered the game in the eighth inning and shut down the Owls. Arizona had just their second 1-2-3 inning in the ninth and then Robby Medel finished things out in the bottom of the ninth.

The Wildcats are back at it tomorrow at 3 p.m. MST as they take on Rice in game two of the series.

Game Notes

Cody Ramer finished the night 2-4 with 2 RBI. In 2015, Ramer had just eight hits and four RBI.

The last opening day starter that issue a walk was Joe Little back on Jan. 30, 2003. Arizona lost to BYU that day by a score of 6-3.

The last opening day game without a walk as a staff was Jan. 25, 2002 in a winning effort against New Mexico. Sean Rierson and Tony Susler were the Arizona pitchers.

Bobby Dalbec struck out three times, but he was able to tally an RBI. He led the team with 53 last season.

Arizona was able to knock out Rice pitcher Blake Fox after just 3.2 innings. Fox is now 26-3 in his career.

While Arizona did not walk a Rice batter, Rice walked 10 Arizona batters.

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