SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Arizona baseball team scored five runs in the top of the 10th inning to surge ahead of Utah, before the Wildcats held on for a 6-1 victory that evened the three-game series here Saturday afternoon at Smith’s Ballpark.
Cody Ramer ripped a run-scoring double to break the 1-1 tie, which had been in place since the third inning. Kenny Meimerstorf later drove in a pair of runs with a double of his own, and Riley Moore added a two-run single to put an exclamation on the five-run extra inning frame.
If not for a great defensive play by Meimerstorf and Moore, the game may never have gone to extra innings.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, TJ Bennett singled and stole second against Arizona starter Cody Hamlin, who had not allowed a base hit since the third inning. Wyler Smith followed with a line-drive single to right field, and Bennett was given the green light around third base to try and score the winning run.
The consecutive hits prompted a pitching change, and Bobby Dalbec took over for Hamlin, who went 8.2 innings with just one run allowed. Dalbec (W, 1-2) sent the game to extra innings as Smith was stranded at second base when Cory Hunt grounded out to end the ninth.
Utah closer Nick Green, who entered the game with a 1.44 earned run average, remained in the game to pitch the 10th inning after he recorded a pair of outs to strand two runners in the ninth.
But Green ran into trouble after Joseph Maggi singled up the middle with one down in the top of the 10th. Green put himself in a jam by walking Dalbec, which forced the go-ahead run into scoring position.
With his double down the right field line, Ramer delivered the biggest hit of the game. It snapped an 0-for-15 stretch at the plate for the sophomore, and ended a frustrating day at the plate the Wildcats. The club was previously 0-for-17 with runners on base, including 0-for-13 with runners on base, in the game.
The subsequent two-run hits from Meimerstorf and Moore resulted in all five runs being charged to Green (L, 0-2), who allowed three hits and walked three in his relief outing.
Utah (10-18, 1-10 Pac-12) did not go quietly in the home half of the 10th, however, as it loaded the bases with two outs. Cody Moffett, a lefty who relieved Dalbec (W, 1-2) after consecutive walks, coaxed a soft foul-out to Ramer at third base to end the game.
Arizona (13-19, 3-8 Pac-12) won for the first time in six chances on the road this season after a late lead slipped away Friday night.
The Utes, who scored five runs in the eighth inning of last night’s 7-3 victory, picked up where they left off in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday. Kody Davis singled and later scored on a groundout by TJ Bennett, who had five RBI the night before, to put Utah on top 1-0.
The Wildcats tied the game in the top of the third. Moore, who finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and two runs batted in, led off with a single and was bunted to second by Kevin Newman. One out later, Moore was on third and scored when Scott Kingery reached on an error by Hunt, the shortstop.
That unearned run was the only blemish on starter Zach Adams’ line for the Utes. The right-hander worked 5.2 with three hits and a walk allowed. He had two strikeouts.
Hamlin, who did not factor into the decision, matched the effort and more for the Wildcats. After surrendering the first-inning run, Hamlin settled in and cruised through the middle part of the ballgame. A third-inning infield single by Davis was the only hit the Utes collected between the first and ninth innings.
The rubber game of the three-game series is set for Sunday at noon (MDT) at Smith’s Ballpark. The game will be broadcast live by the Arizona IMG Sports Network with Brian Jeffries calling the action on 1290 AM in Tucson, Ariz., beginning at 10:45 a.m. (MST).