Bobby Dalbec went 3 for 3 and drove in three runs and Arizona stole a season-high seven bases Wednesday night to top Abilene Christian 8-3 in front of 2,474 fans at Hi Corbett Field.
The game marked the final regular season contest at Hi Corbett this season and served as Senior Night for the club’s seven seniors. The seniors went out in style, helping their team improve to 35-20 on the season.
Like they did in the opener Tuesday night, the Wildcats built an early lead in the finale Wednesday. Arizona scored its first run of the game in the second inning. Dalbec singled to center to start the inning, before stealing second base. He moved to third on a balk and eventually scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the inning.
Starter Rio Gomez tossed a scoreless third, before the Wildcats added three more runs in the bottom of the third to extend their lead to 4-0. Cody Ramer started the inning with a single and moved up a base when Zach Gibbons followed with a knock of his own. Ryan Aguilar then bunted for a base hit, loading the bases with no outs.
After a strikeout, Dalbec struck again. The junior lined a double to left field to score Ramer and Gibbons and make it 3-0. Aguilar scored one batter later when catcher Cesar Salazar lifted a sacrifice fly to left field.
Abilene Christian responded one inning later in the top of the fourth. The Wildcats plated three runs when first baseman David Ruot came up with the bases loaded and blooped a double to right field to clear the bases and make it 4-3. But that’s as close as the visiting Wildcats would get.
Arizona added two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth. In the fifth, JJ Matijevic singled with one out and was brought all the way around to score when Dalbec doubled to center field. Dalbec scored one batter later when Salazar tripled down the right field line, which made it 6-3.
The Cats tacked on their final two runs in the sixth. Louis Boyd singled to start the inning and moved to second when Ramer walked. After a Gibbons ground out, Aguilar dropped down a sacrifice bunt that scored Boyd from third and Ramer from second for a two-RBI bunt.
That was all the offense Arizona pitchers needed. Gomez, who recorded the win to improve to 3-0 on the season, tossed 3 1/3 innings, allowing two hits, three unearned runs and striking out five. Cameron Ming came on in relief of Gomez and went 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and no walks. He struck out four.
Freshmen Cody Deason and Alfonso Rivas finished things off with perfect frames in the eighth and ninth. Deason struck out the side and Rivas needed just four pitches to navigate through his inning.
Offensively, Ramer, Aguilar and Matijevic all had two-hit nights to go with Dalbec’s 3-hit game. Ramer went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and a diving catch at second base in his final regular season game at Hi Corbett Field. Aguilar, also in his final regular season game at Hi Corbett, was 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Arizona stole seven bases in the win, which is the team’s highest total since swiping 10 against Alcorn State in 2014. The Wildcats, who could potentially host a NCAA regional at Hi Corbett, finished the regular season 23-7 at home and posted a 2.27 staff ERA in coach Jay Johnson’s first season.
The Cats will wrap up their regular season this weekend at Hawaii. Arizona and Hawaii will square off in a three-game series beginning Friday night at 9:35 MST. The 16 regional hosts for the NCAA tournament will be announced Sunday afternoon. The full 64-team field will be announced Monday morning.
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