The Arizona Wildcats pounded out 24 hits and got six scoreless innings from starting pitcher Nathan Bannister to topple Sacramento State 23-1 Saturday afternoon at Hi Corbett.
The Wildcats' bats were hot from the start and never cooled. The onslaught began in the second inning when the Cats plated a half dozen runs. The rally started when J.J. Matijevic led off the inning with a single. One batter later, junior Bobby Dalbec connected for a two-run home run to open the scoring. It was the third baseman’s first home run of the season after leading the Pac-12 with 15 a year ago as a sophomore.
“The most impressive thing about him right now is how he keeps preserving,” coach Jay Johnson said. “It will come, and it has been coming. His last three games have been his best three games of the season.”
The Wildcats still weren’t done after Dalbec’s homer. After a pair of walks and a sacrifice fly, Jared Oliva notched a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. Cody Ramer and Ryan Aguilar then produced back-to-back doubles and Zach Gibbons followed with an RBI single to cap the scoring for the inning.
The Cats picked it back up in the fourth when they scored three more runs. Arizona’s first run of the inning was a bit of an unusual situation. With a runner on second and one out, Matijevic hit a deep fly ball to right field. Gibbons, who was second, hustled all the way home to give Matijevic a sacrifice fly. Shortstop Louis Boyd produced the other two runs of the inning off a two-run single.
One inning later in the fifth, Arizona plated three more runs to increase their lead to double digits at 12-0. Aguilar had an RBI single and freshman catcher Cesar Salazar had a two-run single.
Arizona kept piling it on, scoring six more in the sixth and five in the seventh to get to 23 runs. The Wildcats had nine players tally multiple-hit games in the win. Matijevic led the way, going 4 of 6 with 4 RBI and three runs scored. The big day upped his season average to .392. Ramer, Salazar and Oliva all had three hits in the win. Oliva had three RBI, while Ramer and Salazar each had two.
Aguilar, Dalbec, Gibbons and Boyd all had two hits and multiple RBI. Arizona saw some of its reserves get in on the action. Ryan Haug, who pinch-hit and played right field, was 2 of 2. Casey Bowman, who came in for Dalbec at third base, had an RBI single and second baseman Kyle Lewis had a sacrifice fly.
“It was a good offensive performance,” Johnson said. “We did a good job of getting our pitch, and we hit a bunch of mistakes hard. We ran the bases smart and aggressive. It was a good day.”
The Cats weren’t just impressive at the plate; it came on the mound, too. Bannister extended his scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings after tossing six shutout innings. The senior right-hander gave up just two hits and one walk. He struck out four and needed just 58 pitches (42 strikes) to get through six innings.
Bannister is now 3-0 on the season with a 2.10 ERA. He has just two walks in 30 innings and has registered 21 strikeouts. Opposing hitters are batting just .154 off of him this season.
“He’s just all around the zone,” Johnson said. “It’s been great to see. He’s just throwing strikes, low strikes, in and out and he’s changing speeds. He’s getting rewarded for a bunch of quality pitches.”
The Wildcats will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Copyright 2016 Arizona Athletics. All rights reserved.
7831 N. Business Park Drive
Tucson, AZ 85743