TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona baseball team opened the season with a bang on Friday night, dispatching Kent State, 13-1, before a crowd of 3,613 that was treated to a postgame fireworks show at Hi Corbett Field.
Senior right-hander James Farris (W, 1-0) seemingly pitched better as the game wore on, finishing with nine strikeouts over 7.2 innings on the mound, while freshman designated hitter Willie Calhoun sparked the offense with three hits and four runs driven in.
Arizona (1-0) scored the game’s final 13 runs after the Golden Flashes struck first in the third inning. The Wildcats rapped out a dozen hits and put all nine of its starters on base in the game. Sophomore left fielder Zach Gibbons matched Calhoun’s effort at the plate with a three-hit game of his own.
Down a run in the third, Cody Ramer drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joseph Maggi. A fielder’s choice allowed Ramer to advance safely to third, and the sophomore third baseman tied the game on a wild pitch.
The Wildcats then blew the game open in the fourth inning with seven runs on just three hits. Gibbons and catcher Riley Moore each reached base to open the frame and moved to second and third on a wild pitch. A passed ball allowed Gibbons to score the go-ahead run.
Freshman first baseman Bobby Dalbec drew a walk that left runners at the corners for sophomore Scott Kingery, who doubled in a run with a shot off the left field wall. Maggi was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, and shortstop Kevin Newman notched an RBI when he drew a walk.
That set the table for Calhoun, whose double to right-center drove in three runs. Calhoun would later score on a wild pitch to cap the seven-run inning.
That was plenty of run support for Farris, who surrendered just three hits after the fourth inning. In the seventh, he struck out all three batters he faced looking.
Lefty Brian Clark (L, 0-1) took the loss for the Golden Flashes after being charged with seven runs on three hits and three walks over the first 3.1 innings.
Kent State (0-1) was staked to an early lead courtesy centerfielder Alex Miklos’ two-out triple, which scored Jon Wilson.
Even after Arizona tied the game in the bottom of the inning, the Golden Flashes appeared to have the momentum. Designated hitter Zarley Zalewski led off the fourth with a triple, but did not advance any further. A line out to first, a pop foul out to left and a fly out to center left Zalewski stranded.
With the seven-run bottom of the fourth, it was all but over.
The Wildcats tacked on single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, and then pushed across two more in the eighth to cap a six-inning stretch that produced 13 runs. Calhoun’s second double of the game helped set up the sixth-inning run.
The same two clubs will be in action on Saturday night in the second game of the three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MST) at Hi Corbett Field.
GAME NOTES: Arizona has won its last five games dating to the end of the 2013 season … The Wildcats are 19-2 on Opening Day since 1994 … Under Andy Lopez, Arizona has now won 11-of-13 season-opening games … Tonight’s game marked just the second meeting all-time between the schools, with UA capturing a victory over the Golden Flashes on June 5, 2004, at the South Bend Regional … With two hits, Trent Gilbert has a seven-game hitting streak dating to last season … The Wildcats are seeking to win their 20th-straight season-opening series … Arizona has won six-straight games it has played with a postgame fireworks show, including three-consecutive season-openers at Hi Corbett Field. The other three games include the May 25, 2012, victory over Arizona State in Tucson, the 2012 national championship game in Omaha, Neb., and the May 17, 2013, win at Arizona State last season.