The victory ensured UA of its fourth three-game series win of the season and improved it to 13-4 for the year. EMU dropped its seventh straight game with the loss to fall to 1-8.
Leading 8-1 after eight complete innings, Eastern took advantage of a Kevin Rodland fielding error in the ninth to score five unearned runs with two outs off of reliever Jason Stoffel before closer Daniel Schlereth finally shut the door on the Wildcat victory.
EMU’s Aaron Powell started the late rally with a double down the right field line to lead off the ninth. After Derek Lehrman struck out, Jeff Hehr cut UA’s advantage to 8-2 with an RBI-double to left to plate Powell from first.
Josh Ivan followed Hehr with a routine grounder to Rodland at third, but the freshman’s throw to first pulled Bill Rhinehart off the bag for an inning-extending error and placed runners on first and second with one out. Stoffel then retired pinch hitter Andrew Marshall on strikes for what should have been the third out and the end of the game.
However, the defensive miscue allowed EMU to plate five more runs on an infield single to short by Kyle Rhoad, a two-run single to center by Robert Wendzicki and a two-run triple by Jeff Davis.
The ninth inning fireworks by EMU nearly stole away a fine outing by UA starter Brad Mills (4-1). The senior southpaw scattered five hits over 6 1/3 innings and surrendered just one run while striking out a career-high 10 batters. Mills, who worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first and a two-on, one-out spot in the third, earned his team-leading fourth win of the season.
T.J. Steele, who finished the game 3 for 5 with three RBI and two run scored, drove in one run in the sixth with a single and two more in the seventh on his team-leading eighth double of the year.
EMU’s George Biddell (0-2) was charged with the loss after giving up five runs on seven hits over five innings.
Arizona stole a season-high six bases in the contest without getting caught ... The six steals extended UA’s streak to 18-straight successful stolen base attempts ... Arizona’s four pitchers in the contest (Brad Mills, Cory Burns, Jason Stoffel and Daniel Schlereth) teamed up to strike out 15 batters in the game, matching UA’s season-high ... Saturday’s contest was the first win of the year for Arizona when its opponent recorded more hits (14 to 11) ... Prior to EMU’s six runs in the ninth, Arizona had allowed just two runs in the final frame in the first 16 games of the year.