PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Arizona Wildcats scored three runs in the seventh inning to jump ahead of Arizona State and never looked back from there, topping their intrastate foe 6-5 Thursday night in the opener of a three-game series at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The win improved Arizona to 34-17 on the season and 13-12 in Pac-12 play. Arizona State dropped to 23-27 on the season and 8-17 in the league.
Sophomore right-hander Michael Flynn tossed 2 1/3 innings in relief, giving up one run on two hits, while striking out two to earn the win. He improved to 4-0 on the season. Tylor Megill pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to earn his third save of the season.
Megill came on in the eighth with runners on the corners and got a fly out to escape the jam. In the ninth, a run scored with two outs on a passed ball to make it 6-5. But the junior right-hander got a pop out to close out the game and secure the win for the Cats.
The Cats got on the board first Thursday with a run in the fourth inning after three scoreless innings each from Arizona's JC Cloney and Arizona State's Eder Erives.
Cal Stevenson started off the inning by reaching on a bloop double to center field, and then moved over to third base on a sacrifice bunt from Jared Oliva. JJ Matijevic followed with a hit by pitch to put runners on the corners with one out for Alfonso Rivas.
Rivas dropped in a bloop hit of his own, finding some grass in left field to score Stevenson and break the deadlock, giving the Wildcats the early lead. Arizona State responded in the bottom half with a run of its own when shortstop Andrew Snow hit a sacrifice fly to right field to tie the game up.
In the next inning, Arizona's offense went back to work. With two outs and one runner on, Oliva singled to move Stevenson to second and put two on with two outs for Matijevic. The junior first baseman roped a double off the top of the wall in right field to score Stevenson from second and Oliva all the way from first.
The double was Matijevic's 26th of the season, which tied him with Terry Francona (1980) and Willie Morales (1993) for the third-most doubles in a season by an Arizona player. With one more, he'll tie Todd Trafton, who had 27 in 1986. It was the 56th double of his career, which tied him with Chip Hale (1984-87) for the sixth-most doubles in school history. It also gave Matijevic 19 career RBI versus ASU in 13 games.
Trailing 3-1, Arizona State again responded right away against the Wildcats, plating two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game up. Leadoff man Gage Canning hit a solo home run with one out, and then Taylor Lane scored on a wild pitch later in the inning to tie the game.
Neither team scored in the sixth, but the Wildcats used some small ball in the seventh inning to retake the lead. Arizona loaded the bases with no outs when Louis Boyd reached on an error, Stevenson walked and Oliva singled to left.
Following a strikeout, Rivas came up and dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Boyd. Stevenson never broke stride coming from second and was able to score on the bunt as well for a two-run sacrifice bunt to make it 5-3. Ryan Haug then reached on an error from Snow, which scored Oliva to make it 6-3.
The Devils scored once in the seventh and once more in the eighth, but could never catch up to the Wildcats.
Oliva finished 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Rivas had three RBI and Matijevic had two. Stevenson went 1 for 4 with three runs scored.