Nathan Bannister tossed his third complete game in his last four starts to lift the Arizona Wildcats to a 6-1 win over No. 13 Oregon State on Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.
The senior right-hander went all nine, allowing just five hits, one run, one walk and struck out nine to improve to 6-0 at home this season. Bannister has a 0.89 ERA in 50 2/3 innings at his home park. He’s given up just 27 hits, five runs and eight walks in his eight home appearances.
The Peoria product gave up a first-inning run to the Beavers, and then nothing else over his final eight innings. In the first, second baseman Nick Madrigal tripled with one out and was brought home one batter later when Logan Ice grounded out to shortstop off Bannister’s glove.
Bannister hit the next batter, but then got a groundout to end the inning. Bannister got into a bit of trouble two innings later in the third with the score still 1-0 Oregon State. The senior gave up back-to-back base hits to open the inning to Cadyn Grenier and Christian Donahue to put runners on first and third with nobody out. But Bannister got a lineout and two strikeouts to strand the two runners and keep the deficit at one run.
His offense got him some support one inning later in the fourth. Cody Ramer led off the inning with a single and moved up a base when Zach Gibbons followed with a single of his own. JJ Matijevic then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up a base.
Matijevic’s bunt brought senior first baseman Ryan Aguilar to the plate, who roped a two-run triple to right-centerfield to score both runners and give Arizona a 2-1 lead. The next batter, Alfonso Rivas, lifted a fly ball to left field that was deep enough to score Aguilar from third for a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
Bannister put up three straight zeroes after the three-run inning to keep the score at 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. There, Arizona provided Bannister with more breathing room, plating two more runs.
Kyle Lewis led off and was hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a balk and then third on a sacrifice bunt from Cesar Salazar. Louis Boyd followed with a squeeze bunt that scored Lewis. Boyd was able to reach second base on the bunt off a throwing error by Oregon State pitcher Travis Eckert. Boyd advanced to third on a single from Justin Behnke.
Boyd and Behnke then teamed up for a double steal, allowing Boyd to sprint home for Arizona’s fifth run of the game to make it 5-1.
Bannister tossed a perfect eighth and then the Wildcats got him another run in the eighth. Aguilar singled with one out and moved to third when Rivas singled to right. Lewis then dropped down a squeeze bunt to score Aguilar. He was able to reach on a fielder’s choice when the Beavers tried to get Aguilar at home. Lewis’ bunt made it 6-1.
Bannister kept it there when he struck out the side in the ninth to finish off his gem. He got K.J. Harrison and Billy King swinging and Trevor Larnach looking to end the game.
For the season, Bannister is now 7-1 with a 2.74 ERA.
Aguilar and Rivas each finished 2 for 3 in the win. Aguilar drove in two runs and scored two to go with a walk. Rivas had an RBI. Gibbons went 1 for 4 with a run scored. He now has 248 hits for his career, two away from tying Ron Hassey for 10th all-time on Arizona’s career hit list.
The Cats will go for the series win Saturday night at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein and Kevin Stocker on the call.
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