Ryan Aguilar hit a three-run home run off the right field foul pole in the top of the 13th inning to lift the Arizona Wildcats to a thrilling 8-5 win over California on a game that started Saturday evening and ended a few minutes after midnight Sunday.
Zach Gibbons collected his fifth hit of the night with one out in the 13th to get a runner on first base. Jared Oliva then singled off the second baseman’s glove to put two on with one out for Aguilar.
The senior then worked the count to 3-1, before hammering a fastball to right for a three-run shot to give the Cats the win over the 18th-ranked Golden Bears. The victory also secured a series win for the Cats after shutting Cal out in the opener Friday.
“I was looking for a fastball up and he gave it to me,” Aguilar said. “I just turned on it and let it fly. The adrenaline gets going and you just can’t wait to get in that huddle with your boys.”
Bobby Dalbec then pitched a scoreless 13th inning to secure the win for Arizona (25-14, 9-8 Pac-12). Dalbec went 5 2/3 innings in relief of starter J.C. Cloney to pick up his eighth win of the season.
“The best win of this season and the best regular season win I can ever remember being a part of,” coach Jay Johnson said. “The toughness it took to get through that was incredible. It was a pretty awesome effort by the Wildcats tonight.”
The game entered extra innings when Cal’s Robbie Tenerowicz singled to left-centerfield with one out in the ninth to score Preston Grand Pre and tie the game at four apiece. Neither team scratched a run across in the 10th to send it to 11.
Louis Boyd doubled to lead off the inning for the Cats. He was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Behnke. Cody Ramer then came up and struck out. However, the third strike went for a wild pitch and Ramer took off for first. When Cal catcher Brett Cumberland fired to first, Boyd dashed home from third to score and give Arizona a 5-4 lead.
Cal tied it up again with two outs in the 11th when Tenerowicz homered off Dalbec. Dalbec retired the next batter to send the game to the 12th.
Neither team scored in the 12th to set up the drama in the 13th.
The Cats jumped out to an early lead, plating two runs in the first inning off starter Jeff Bain. Ramer and Gibbons opened the game with back-to-back singles to put runners the corners with nobody gone.
J.J. Matijevic then brought Ramer home on a sacrifice fly to foul territory in left field. After a fielder’s choice, Alfonso Rivas singled to move Aguilar to second. Dalbec then came through with a two-out RBI single to left field to plate Aguilar and give Arizona the early 2-0 lead.
Cloney then produced a quick 1-2-3 inning in the first to get his team back to the plate. Louis Boyd started the inning with a line drive single to centerfield and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Justin Behnke. After Ramer lined out to center, Gibbons came through with his 17th two-out RBI of the season when he doubled to score Boyd to make it 3-0.
That remained the score until the bottom of the third when Cal scored two runs. Tenerowicz had a two-run, two-out double in the inning to plate the runs for the Golden Bears. Cal then evened it up two innings later when Mitchell Kranson produced a sacrifice fly to even the game.
Arizona answered right back in the sixth to retake the lead. Dalbec led off the inning with a walk and then moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt from catcher Ryan Haug. Boyd followed with a single to center to score Dalbec from second to give Arizona a 4-3 lead.
Cloney then put together another quick 1-2-3 inning to get through the sixth with the Cats still leading. An inning later in the seventh, Cloney got the first two outs of the inning, before giving up a two-out single. Kranson then appeared to reach on an error, but runner’s interference was called on Tenerowicz after he interfered with Boyd’s throw to first base. That ended the inning and kept the score 4-3 in favor of the Wildcats.
Cloney received a no-decision in the marathon win. He tossed 7 1/3 innings, giving up three unearned runs. Gibbons finished 5 for 6 in the win and upped his batting average to .389. He has multiple-hit games in 11 of his last 18 contests. Boyd was 3 for 6 in the win.
The Cats will go for the sweep of the Bears on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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