JJ Matijevic went 3-5 with two RBI, a double and a home run in Arizona’s 8-7 victory over New Mexico State, which lasted three hours and 50 minutes and featured 13 different pitchers between the two teams. Alfonso Rivas III was credited with the first win of his career.
It was an error filled first couple of innings for Arizona as the Wildcats committed three errors in the first two innings of the game which led to three unearned New Mexico State runs.
Kevin Ginkel got the start tonight and was pumping strikes, but the defense was having some trouble behind him. Greg Popylisen singled and advanced to second on an error on a pickoff attempt and then advanced to third on a ground ball. He would score after the Wildcats failed to field another grounder cleanly. The Aggies would then score the second run of the inning on a fielder’s choice and the inning ended after Ryan Haug threw a runner out at second.
The Wildcats allowed one more unearned run in the second after Mason Fishback led off and reached on an error. He would come around to score on a wild pitch to make the score 3-0 Aggies.
Ginkel started to settle in and then the Cats got on the board in the bottom of the third. Haug led off with a single up the middle and then Justin Behnke walked for the 30th time this season, which leads the Pac-12. Cody Ramer would single through the left side to load the bases and then Zach Gibbons followed it up with a single of his own, which scored Haug and Behnke. Gibbons has now reached base in all 35 games he has played in.
In the fourth, Ginkel was removed with one out and Matt Hartman came on to pitch. He proceeded to strike out the first two batters he faced. In the bottom half of the inning, Alfonso Rivas III doubled with one out and Behnke would bring him home with a single. After Ramer walked to put runners on first and second, Gibbons collected his third RBI of the game on another single to make the score 4-3 Arizona.
New Mexico State tied the game up in the top of the fifth after Daniel Johnson led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Austin Botello singled up the middle to score Johnson, but a double play ended the inning after that.
The WIldcats got right back to work in the bottom of the fifth after Matijevic led off with a double to the centerfield wall. Kyle Lewis was hit by a pitch and Rivas was walked to load the bases. After a pitching change, Matijevic scored on a wild pitch to make the score 5-4 Arizona. That's all that Arizona would get though as they stranded a pair on second and third.
The Aggies threatened in the top of the sixth as they put runners on first and second. With two outs, Michael Flynn would relieve Hartman of his duties and would get the third out on a strikeout.
With one out in the top of the seventh and a runner on first, Tyler Crawford took the mound for the first time at Hi Corbett since April 11, 2014. After he got the second out on a pickoff, Botello tied the game up on a home run to right field. Cody Deason would then come on to pitch and allowed a single and a pair of walks, which forced head coach Jay Johnson to bring Robby Medel in to pitch. Cameron Haskins would single up the middle to give the Aggies a 7-5 lead and the inning would end on a flyout to right.
Matijevic then lead off the bottom seventh with a towering home run to right centerfield to cut the lead to 7-6. He now has two home runs on the season. Haug singled to right and would advance to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Behnke walked once again to bring up Ramer, who grounded out sharply to first base to end the inning.
Rivas would move from his DH spot to the mound with one out in the top of the eighth and would get the next two outs with ease. In the bottom half of the inning, Dalbec smoked one up with middle with one out and Ryan Aguilar followed that up with a double down the left field line, which scored Dalbec to tie the game at seven. Matijevic stayed hot with a single to right field, which scored Aguilar and gave the WIldcats an 8-7 lead. Louis Boyd would pinch run for him and proceeded to steal second and advance to third on a wild pitch, but would be stranded there.
Rivas finished off the ninth with a clean inning, giving the Wildcats their 23rd win of the season. The Cats hit the road tomorrow as they head to Berkeley to face No. 18 California. The series gets going with game one on Friday, Apr. 22 at 7 p.m. MST.
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