Trailing 8-7 in the top of the eighth, C.J Ziegler smacked a hard-hit grounder down the third base line that careened off the glove of UNO third baseman T.J. Baxter and trickled into the outfield for a one-out double.
Rhinehart, who had singled in the third, doubled in the fourth and homered in the sixth, battled Privateer reliever Ryan O’Shea’s to a full count before completing his second cycle in the last three weeks with a triple to the right field corner. The three-bagger plated Ziegler with the game-tying run and left Rhinehart standing just 90 feet away from handing
Sophomore Brad Glenn came through in the next at bat with a fly ball to left that was deep enough to reward Rhinehart with a trip home on the sacrifice and hand UA a 9-8 edge.
Freshman closer Jason Stoffel came on in the bottom of the inning and continued his postseason domination, shutting down the UNO offense with a perfect final two innings of work. The right-hander struck out three of the first four batters he faced and got an outstanding defensive effort by T.J. Steele in centerfield with one out in the ninth.
With the tenuous one-run lead intact in the final frame, UNO’s Johnny Giavotella drilled a 1-0 Stoffel offering deep to straight away center. The fleet-footed Steele instantly tracked down the shot off the bat and gloved it just before hitting the outfield fence 390 feet away from home for the second out.
Stoffel then ended the game with his fourth strikeout of the night to earn his fifth save of the season and his second of the NCAA regional.
Rhinehart’s cycle, the 13th in Arizona history, capped off an up-and-down win for the Wildcats and placed them into the regional championship game on Sunday at 7 p.m. CDT
The Cats got off to a rough start, as sloppy defense and three UNO hits in the first handed the Privateers an early 3-0 advantage. Diallo Fon and Colt Sedbrook committed back-to-back errors on the first two UNO balls put in play and the Privateers got RBI from Joey Butler, Giavotella and Josh Tarnow to race ahead.
Arizona battled back to tie the game in the third as Fon atoned for his fielding error with a solo home run to lead off the frame and Jon Gaston added a two-out, two-run single to pull UA even.
Rhinehart’s fourth inning double drove home Colt Sedbrook to stake UA to a 4-3 lead and Gaston clubbed a massive solo homer to right-center in the fifth to push the advantage to 5-3.
The resilient Privateers battled back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to retake the momentum of the game and a 6-5 lead. After UNO loaded the bases with no outs in the inning off of Wildcat starter Brad Mills, reliever Ryan Perry unleashed a wild pitch on his first offering out of the bullpen to score a run.
UNO added two more runs off of Perry in the inning with Giavotella doubling in one and
Rhinehart’s two-run homer in the sixth temporarily handed Arizona a 7-6 edge, but a Brandon Bowser RBI-double and a run-scoring single by Giavotella made it 8-7 UNO before left-hander Daniel Schlereth finally settled down the pitching for the Wildcats.
Schlereth (3-0), who picked up his third win of the season, allowed just one run on three hits over two innings. He chipped in three of UA’s 14 strikeouts in the game and did not issue a walk.
Rhinehart’s eighth inning heroics gave UA its second one-run win of the postseason and improved the Wildcats to 12-2 on the year in single-run games.
What to Watch For on Sunday
- Including this season,
- In the two games at the Wichita Regional in which the Wildcats have played, Arizona is batting .333 as a team with three doubles, a triple and three home runs. The UA pitching staff has recorded 30 strikeouts against just five walks in 18 innings of work
- Of the 17
- The Wildcats have won both games at the Wichita Regional by just a single run (4-3 and 9-8) and are 12-2 for the year in one-run games.
- The Arizona pitching staff, which has the fourth-most strikeouts in school history this season with 522, has punched out 10 or more batters in each of the last four consecutive games, including a season-high 16 in the regional opener against Oral Roberts.
- Senior Bill Rhinehart became the first
- Rhinehart (14 games), Colt Sedbrook (9) and C.J. Ziegler (7) all extended their hitting streaks against
- Freshman sensation Jason Stoffel, UA’s closer, has appeared in both postseason games, posted two saves, not allowed a base hit in four innings of work and has struck out nine of the 12 batters he has faced. For the year the right-hander is 5-0 with five saves, a 1.91 ERA and 53 Ks in 42 1/3 innings pitched.
- After recording just one extra base hit (a double) in the NCAA-opener against Oral Roberts on Friday, the Wildcats collected two doubles, a triple and three home runs in the Saturday contest against
- The Wildcats bullpen is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities this year and has converted 19 straight dating back to last season.
- After taking a 9-8 lead in the top of the eighth inning on Saturday, the Wildcats improved to 37-0 on the year when heading into the ninth with the lead.
A Close Shave: The majority of
Bill-Cycle Built for Two: Bill Rhinehart became the first Arizona player to not only hit for the cycle twice in a career, he is also the only one out of the 12 who have done so to get it done in the NCAA postseason tournament. Rhinehart, who hit for his first cycle against
Hitting for the Cycle at Arizona
Date Chet Vasey
vs. Williams Field
4/26/1950 Russ Gragg
3/5/1954 Bob Allen
vs. Texas Tech
3/6/1972 Marv Thompson
vs. Azusa Pacific
2/18/1974 Dave Stegman
at Texas-El Paso
5/4/1974 Mike Gatlin
vs. Azusa Pacific
2/21/1975 Scott Stanley
at Washington State
5/17/1979 (Game 2) Menno Wickey
2/19/1995 Kenny Huff
vs. Washington State
4/22/2000 Matt Abram
at Washington State
4/8/2001 Shelley Duncan
vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
4/13/2001 Bill Rhinehart
5/20/2007 Bill Rhinehart
vs. New Orleans
14 and Counting: Senior Bill Rhinehart has put together a very impressive 14-game hitting streak. The fourth-year Wildcat has batted a team-best .476 (30 for 63) with nine doubles, four triples, five home runs, 29 RBI and 24 RBI in his last 14 games. He has recorded both cycles during the current streak, as well as hit his second career grand slam (vs. USC on May 13). He is slugging .984 during the streak and has a .485 on-base percentage.
Four Eyes: Jon Gaston’s improved vision has been paying off. Since being fitted for glasses on May 19, the sophomore is batting .393 (11 for 28) with two doubles, two triples, four home runs, 13 RBI and nine runs scored in his last seven games played. During the outburst he is slugging at 1.036 clip with a .500 on-base percentage, while raising his season average from .316 to .328.
Sunday Starter David Coulon: Left-hander David Coulon will take the mound as the starter for the Wildcats in the regional championship game on Sunday ... The junior southpaw is 4-3 on the year with a 5.00 ERA in 16 appearances ... He has 56 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched ... Sunday will be his 10th start of the year for UA ... He worked a season-high 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision effort at Hawaii on March 11 ... He has twice worked six innings in a start ?- vs. Utah Valley State on Feb. 6 and Washington on May 19 ... He struck out a career-high 11 hitters against UVS, and most recently punched out eight Arizona State batters in a 4 1/3 inning start against the Sun Devils on May 25 ... Along with seniors Brad Mills and Bill Rhinehart, Coulon is one of just three players on the roster with postseason experience prior to the Wichita Regional.