FRISCO, Texas – The Arizona Wildcats stayed undefeated on the season Friday, posting a 3-0 win over Arkansas in the team’s opening game at the Frisco Classic at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. Arizona is now 9-0 on the season, equaling the program’s best start since 2007.
Senior left-hander JC Cloney improved to 3-0 on the season, turning in a masterful performance against the Razorbacks. Jared Oliva and JJ Matijevic each had RBI doubles, which was plenty of support for Cloney.
Cloney went 7 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits and no runs. He walked two and struck out a season-high seven. He has yet to give up an earned run this season and hasn’t allowed one in 38 innings, dating back to last season. Cloney tossed 16 scoreless innings in the College World Series and now has gone 22 innings this season.
He worked around a pair of errors – one in the first and one in the third – and got stronger as the game went on, retiring 10 straight from the fourth to seventh inning. He exited with two outs in the eighth, giving way to closer Cameron Ming, who earned his second save of the season.
Early on, Arkansas starter Blaine Knight was going inning for inning for Cloney. Knight put up zeroes in the first four innings, striking out nine over the first four innings.
The Cats finally broke the scoreless tie in the fifth. Freshman Nick Quintana started the inning with a ball off the wall in left field, but was held to a single on a perfect bounce to the left fielder. He moved over to second anyway when Knight committed a throwing error to first trying to pick him off.
Two batters later, Oliva hammered a one-out double to left-centerfield to score Quintana and give the Cats their first lead of the game.
Cloney continued to settle in after his offense got him a lead. The senior lefty tossed a perfect sixth with a pair of strikeouts. His offense then went back to work in the bottom half, looking to extend the lead. Mitchell Morimoto singled up with the middle with one out, but was erased on a fielder’s choice a batter later by Alfonso Rivas.
With two outs and Rivas on first, junior JJ Matijevic came through with a double to deep center to score Rivas all the way from first to make it 2-0 Wildcats.
Cloney again worked a perfect seventh to protect the lead and get the Cats back to the plate. Arizona got a single from Shane Martinez – his first career knock – in the bottom half, but nothing else. Cloney came back for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single. He then got a strikeout and a fielder’s choice to get two outs. He then went 2-0 to the next batter, and coach Jay Johnson went to his bullpen to bring in Ming.
Ming walked Cloney’s batter, but then got designated hitter Luke Bonfield to fly out to center to end the threat and keep Arizona’s lead at 2-0.
The Cats added a third run in the eighth. With Rivas on first and Morimoto on third with two outs, Rivas got into enough of a run down to allow Morimoto to score from third before Rivas was tagged out at second.
Ming tossed a scoreless ninth to lock the game down, working around a two-out error. Neither Cloney or Ming has allowed an earned run this season. Ming is 2-0 with two saves.
Offensively, the Cats scratched seven hits, with Morimoto, Rivas and Quintana all scoring a run in the win. Oliva and Matijevic had the lone extra-base hits in the game for either side.
Arizona will take on Oklahoma State on Saturday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m., MST. The Cats have yet to announce their starting pitcher.
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