TUCSON, Ariz. – Washington State plated a pair of unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning and held on to defeat the University of Arizona baseball team, 6-5, in comeback fashion to evening a three-game series Saturday evening at Hi Corbett Field.
Down to their final out, the Cougars capitalized on an error when second baseman Trent Gilbert was unable to corral a grounder, and Nick Tanielu reached as the tying run. Yale Rosen, who went 4-for-5 in the game, followed with a double to the right-centerfield gap to push Tanielu to third base.
Closer Bobby Dalbec, who easily retired the first two hitters of the inning prior to the error, then induced P.J. Jones to hit a chopper up the middle. Shortstop Kevin Newman ranged behind the second base bag to field the ball, then fired over to first.
Jones, who went 3-for-5, beat the throw to first and Tanielu scored the tying run. Pinch-runner Cameron Frost never stopped rounding third on the play and came in to score the eventual game-winning run as first baseman Michael Hoard’s relay to plate was too late.
Ian Hamilton, who entered with one out in eighth, closed out the game in the ninth. The right-hander gave up a one-out single to Gilbert, but bounced back to strike out Zach Gibbons and Hoard to end the game.
Arizona (11-10, 1-1 Pac-12) took an initial lead in the first inning when Newman doubled to drive in Scott Kingery. It was the first of three runs batted in for Newman, who finished 3-for-5 in the game. Kingery scored a pair of runs in a 3-for-4 night at the plate to improve his season batting average to .453.
Washington (5-9, 1-1 Pac-12) answered with three runs in the second inning against Wildcats starter Cody Hamlin. Ian Sagdal and Ben Roberts hit run-scoring singles, and the third run scored when Dalbec, the starting first baseman, was unable to make an accurate throw home on a squeeze bunt.
The Wildcats bounced back an inning later with two runs in the third off Cougars lefty Joe Pistorese. Kenny Meimerstorf reached on an error to open the frame, and Kingery followed with a single. After both were advanced on Cody Ramer’s bunt, Newman delivered an RBI single and Gilbert Kingery to even the score, 3-3.
In the fourth, Arizona regained the lead Meimerstorf tripled to left field and Newman later drove him in with another RBI single.
The Cougars tied the game with a lone run in the top of the fifth. Rosen started a two-out rally with a single before stealing second. Jones followed with an RBI hit to left field.
Locked in a 5-5 game, Pistorese allowed a leadoff single to Gilbert in the seventh. After Gibbons bunted Gilbert second, Pistorese was replaced by Scott Simon, who struck out pinch-hitter Jordan Berger. But Dalbec followed with a two-out, run-scoring single to send Gilbert home with the go-ahead run.
Hamlin, who did not factor into the decision, recorded a quick out to open the eighth, but Sagdal followed with a single. Left-hander Xavier Borde replaced Hamlin and retired both batters he faced to preserve the lead.
The ninth-inning rally wiped away a potential victory for Hamlin, who tossed 7.1 inning for the Wildcats. The righty-hander scattered 10 hits and was charged for four runs – three earned – while striking out three with no walks.
Pistorese was the benefactor of the comeback. The lefty avoided the loss he would have received for his 6.1 innings of work. He allowed nine hits and gave up five runs, but just three were earned. Pistorese struck out four and walked two.
Hamilton (W, 2-1) was strong in relief, striking out three and allowing only the single to Gilbert in the ninth.
Dalbec (L, 0-2) suffered the loss despite neither run being earned. He struck out one and allowed the two hits.
Arizona squandered additional scoring opportunities throughout. The Wildcats finished 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base.
The rubber match of the series is set for noon (MST) tomorrow at Hi Corbett Field.