With the Wildcats mounting just three total hits and the contest deadlocked 3-3 after six and half innings, Mother Nature halted the proceedings with a one-hour and 17-minute severe weather delay in the bottom of the seventh.
The lightning-induced respite provided a much-needed break for the Wildcats’ offense, which strung together three straight two-out singles right after play resumed to scrape across the go-ahead and turn the contest over the UA bullpen.
After ORU reliever Erik Crichton retired the first two UA batters in the seventh, Colt Sedbrook ignited a rally with a bloop hit that fell into right for a single. C.J. Ziegler followed with a base hit up the middle to place runners on first and second for Bill Rhinehart.
With his 12-game hitting streak on the line, the senior outfielder deilivered with a soft single to center that provided just enough time to plate Sedbrook with the go-ahead score.
From there on it was all on the arm of freshman closer Jason Stoffel, and the first-year Wildcat made his postseason debut a memorable one. The right-hander dominated by striking out five of the six hitters he faced and inducing a fly ball to left for a perfect two innings of work. Stoffel’s effort preserved Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet’s 12th win of the season, while earning him his fourth save.
Guilmet, who was charged with just his second loss of the year in his final outing of the regular season at
The right-hander improved to 12-2 on the year after allowing three runs on seven hits over seven innings of work. He recorded his sixth double digit strikeout game of the season and finished with three walks.
ORU’s Crichton (4-5) was charged with the loss after allowing the go-ahead run in the seventh. Golden Eagle starter Chance Chapman pitched well in a no-decision effort, limiting UA to two earned runs on three hits over six innings.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after three innings, scoring a run on a Jon Gaston double in the second before adding two more on a sacrifice fly by Rhinehart and a run-scoring ground out by Brad Glenn in the third.
ORU, which had cut the UA edge to 3-1 with a run on three hits in the top of the fourth, rallied to tie the game in the fifth when Brendan Duffy and Kelly Minnissale led off the frame with a single and double to place runners on second and third with no outs. Jake Kahaulelio and Chad Rothford then followed with RBI-ground outs in the next two at-bats to even the game at 3-3.
The Golden Eagles had a prime bases-loaded opportunity in the third inning snatched away by Guilmet. After back-to-back base hits and a hit batter loaded the bases, Guilmet retired ORU’s Brian Van Kirk on strikes before gloving Cater McQuigg’s hard-hit line drive for an inning-ending double play.
Second-seeded Arizona will play No. 4-seed New Orleans on Saturday at 7 p.m. CDT (5 p.m. MST) at Eck Stadium in Wichita.
Arizona improved to 11-2 in one-run games this season with Friday’s 4-3 victory ... Preston Guilmet’s 11 strikeouts in the contest boosted his Pac-10-leading total to 144 for the year ... His 144 Ks are sixth-most in a single season for any Arizona pitcher in school history and the most by a Wildcat hurler since Jim Nichols punched out 145 batters in 1963 (44 years) ... Colt Sedbrook was hit by a pair of pitches in Friday’s contest to extend his school record to 41 HBP over his two-year career ... Rhinehart’s single in the seventh extended his hitting streak to 13-straight games, one away from tying his career high of 14 set last season ... Stoffel’s perfect two innings of worked extended Arizona’s successful saves streak to 18 straight conversions dating back to the 2006 season ... The Wildcats are a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities this year ... Former Wildcat and Golden Eagle pitcher Sean Jarrett was at the game sporting an Arizona baseball shirt and an ORU hat. Jarrett pitched at UA for two season (2004-05) before transferring to ORU prior to the 2006 season.