TUCSON, Ariz. – Tyler Krause had yet to make his playing debut for the University of Arizona baseball team and had sat on the bench for five hours and four minutes Tuesday night watching his team chip away at an early 6-0 deficit.
But in the game’s final inning and final minute, his name was finally called.
In bottom of the 14th inning, in the 305th minute of running game time, Krause delivered the biggest hit of the young season for the Wildcats. His two-out, pinch-hit double to centerfield drove in Scott Kingery to complete an improbable comeback for Arizona, which downed pesky Utah Valley, 8-7, on Tuesday evening at Hi Corbett Field.
Locked in a 7-7 tie since the seventh inning, the game seemed destined for a 15th frame. Lefty reliever Braden Poole had tamed Arizona’s lineup over 4.1 innings of relief, including two quick outs in the bottom of the 14th. That was until Kingery singled and stole second.
The Wildcats faced a dilemma. Pitcher Morgan Earman, the ninth hurler to throw in the game, was at the plate after the designated hitter position was scratched earlier in the game.
With Kingery safely in scoring position, Krause was called on to pinch hit facing the 0-1 count inherited from Earman’s plate appearance. Krause took two pitches, both balls, before jumping all over a pitch from Poole over the heart of the plate.
The ball sailed over centerfielder Jordy Hart, who made a leaping effort, only to have the ball bounce beyond him and to the wall. Kingery easily scored the winning run to cap Arizona’s 13th last at-bat victory at Hi Corbett Field since moving into the facility two years ago.
Arizona (3-1) used 22 players in the game, which was two shy of a program record set multiple times. To say it was a team effort would be an understatement.
The Wildcats found themselves down 6-0 before they came to bat in the second inning. Junior Mathew Troupe struggled in his second career start, allowing six runs on eight hits over 1.2 9 innings.
The rest of the game belonged to the bullpen, and did it ever deliver. Sophomore Cody Moffett settled things down in relief of Troupe, tossing 4.1 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed and a career-high eight strikeouts.
The pen would ultimately combined to throw 12.1 innings with just one run allowed. The eight relievers struck out 15 Wolverines and scattered four hits with just five walks.
Arizona’s comeback began in the fifth inning when it scratched across a pair of runs. Zach Gibbons, who went 2-for-5 with two runs scored, led off with a single. Two outs later, Cody Ramer, who was 2-for-6 with a run scored, notched a single of his own to put runners at the corners. After Ramer stole second, Jordan Berger delivered a two-run single to cut the deficit to 6-2.
The Wildcats kept on the offensive an inning later.
Trent Gilbert and Gibbons opened the frame with singles, and Kingery drew a walk to load the bases. Gilbert scored on a wild pitch thrown by Eric Olguin, before Bobby Dalbec pulled a two-run single into left field to make it a 6-5 contest.
Utah Valley (1-3) added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Nathan Bannister walked Craig Brinkerhoff with two outs. Mark Krueger followed with a double, and Tyger Talley was called on to face Seth Rhineer with runners at second and third. But Talley fired a wild pitch to plate Brinkerhoff, and the Wolverines led 7-5.
The Wildcats fought right back with two runs in the home half. Joseph Maggi led off with a walk and Kevin Newman singled to left-center, pushing Maggi to third base. After a pitching change, Willie Calhoun chopped a single into right field to drive in Maggi, and Gibbons later knocked home the tying run with a sacrifice fly.
The score remained knotted at 7-7 all the way through into the 14th inning.
Arizona received a gritty pitching debut from Dalbec, who pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in his first action on the mound. The righty worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the 10th inning and later turned the game over to Luke Soroko, who got the final out of the 12th inning after Dalbec ran out of gas and issued a pair of two-out walks.
Earman (W, 1-0) came on for the final two innings and escaped a jam of his own in the 13th. The right-hander hit Riley White with a pitch to lead off the inning, but White was thrown out trying to steal on a hit-and-run play by catcher Riley Moore, a late-inning replacement. Earman followed with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
Poole (L, 0-1) was able to avoid trouble in the 12th and 13th innings when the Wildcats stranded runners in scoring positions. In the 12th, pinch-hitter Casey Bowman flied out to end the threat, and in the 13th, Sam Eco-Parris also flied out.
The Wolverines broke through with a pair of first inning runs off Troupe. Sean Moysh knocked home White with the game’s first run, and Krueger later added an RBI single to plate Moysh.
An inning later, Utah Valley added four more runs on four hits. Greyson Bogden had an RBI single, Moysh added a sacrifice fly and Brinkerhoff roped a two-out triple to mark the end of the day for Troupe.
The teams will conclude the brief two-game midweek series on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. (MST).GAME NOTES: The 14 inning game was Arizona’s longest by inning since a 7-6 victory (also 14 innings) against Arizona State on Feb. 15, 2005. That game lasted 5:13, eight minutes longer than Tuesday’s official 5:05 of game time … The Wildcats have 13 last at-bat victories at Hi Corbett Field since the start of the 2012 season … Trent Gilbert now has a 10-game hitting streak dating to last season and has reached base in 15-consecutive games … Coming off the bench, Riley Moore collected a base hit to extend his carry-over streak to 30-straight games played reaching base … Arizona improved to 17-2 all-time against Utah Valley … The Wildcats are 4-0 in extra inning games at Hi Corbett Field the last two seasons.