The Arizona Wildcats used a seven-run first inning and a strong pitching performance from Bobby Dalbec to top the Washington Huskies 17-7 Sunday in the final contest of a three-game series at Husky Ballpark.
Arizona pounded out 19 hits in the win and had five players collect multiple-hit games. Freshman catcher Cesar Salazar led the way, going 4 for 5 with three RBI and three runs scored. Ryan Aguilar, who had a two-home run game Saturday, had three hits and sophomore center fielder Jared Oliva also had three hits, including a three-run home run.
“I’m very proud of our team for responding the way they did after two tough games Friday and Saturday,” coach Jay Johnson said. “To be able to bounce back today for a really good road win is big and our guys should feel good about that. We’ll go back to working on the things we need to on Monday.”
The Cats jumped all over Washington starting pitcher Spencer Jones. Cody Ramer opened the game with a walk and scored when Aguilar doubled him home. After Dalbec drew a walk, both runners moved up a base on a balk from Jones. Cleanup hitter JJ Matijevic brought Aguilar and Dalbec home on the next pitch when he roped a single to right to make it 3-0.
Freshman Alfonso Rivas then doubled to move Matijevic to third base. Zach Gibbons and Alfonso Rivas kept the rally going with back-to-back RBI singles to up the lead to 5-0. The Cats (13-6, 1-2 Pac-12) then executed safety squeeze bunts perfectly with the next two batters, Louis Boyd and Jared Oliva, to make it 7-0 and provide the first two outs of the inning.
Washington (10-6, 2-1) plated a run in the first on a solo home run and two more in the second to cut it to 7-3. After the one-out home run from Chris Baker, Johnson summoned Dalbec to take over and protect the lead. The closer, who didn’t pitch in the first two games of the series, entered and retired the first seven batters he faced. In the fourth, the Huskies finally got to Dalbec when Baker hit another home run, this one a two-run shot, to make it 7-5.
That was as close as Washington would get.
In the fifth, Arizona would add to its lead when Salazar collected a one-out double and was brought home two batters later when Oliva came through with a two-out RBI double to make it 8-5. After a scoreless sixth, Arizona broke the game open in the seventh, plating five more runs.
Rivas started the inning with a double and Gibbons followed with a walk. Salazar then hit his second double of the game to plate Rivas and move Gibbons to third. Boyd followed with an RBI single to make it 10-5.
Oliva then came up with Salazar and Boyd on and slugged a three-run home run that landed in Arizona’s bullpen in left field to make the score 13-5.
Dalbec came back out for the eighth, but exited with one out after an error and a double put runners on second and third with one out. The right-hander had a season-long outing of six innings, giving up two earned runs and four hits, while collecting five strikeouts. The junior right-hander earned the win to improve to 4-1 on the season to go with his five saves.
“It was an awesome performance,” Johnson said. “He has done a nice job in whatever role we’ve put him in on the mound and he did again today. We stretched him out and he looked at me like ‘there’s no way you’re taking me out of this game,’ which as a coach I really appreciate that. I thought he executed his pitches against a very good offensive team.”
He also connected for a two-run home run in the eighth inning for his fourth long ball of the season. All total, Dalbec went 2 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBI to go with his six innings on the mound.
Arizona added another run in the eighth on a Boyd RBI single and then another in the ninth when Salazar singled home Matijevic.
Salazar and Rivas, the two freshmen in Arizona’s starting lineup, went 6 for 11 in the win with three RBI and five runs scored. Combined, the two freshmen went 11-26 in their first-ever Pac-12 series.
The Wildcats will return to action Tuesday at home against Utah Valley. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
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