TUCSON, Ariz. – Zach Gibbons had four hits, including a leadoff double in the ninth inning, and scored on an infield single by Kevin Newman to hand the University of Arizona baseball team a walk-off victory, 6-5, securing a series win over 22nd-ranked UCLA on Sunday at Hi Corbett Field.
With the game locked in 5-5 tie since the fifth, Gibbons sparked the ninth-inning rally with a double to left field off reliever Scott Burke, who was then replaced by Jake Ehret. Trent Gilbert struck out swinging, but Tyler Krause singled up the middle to leave runners at the corners with one out.
Newman stepped to the plate and fell behind in the count, 0-2. He checked his swing on the ensuing 0-2 pitch, but was ruled to have not swung by first base umpire Danny Mascorro. On the next pitch, Newman chopped a high-hopper to third baseman Chris Keck, who charged the ball, but the throw home was late, and Gibbons safely slid in with the game-winning run.
Prior to the start of the ninth inning, UCLA closer David Berg, who had pitched 2.2 hitless innings, was removed from the game during his warmup tosses for an apparent arm injury. He was replaced by Burke (L, 0-1) who gave up the double to Gibbons to ignite the rally.
Gibbons finished the 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two batted in, and he threw out a UCLA runner at the plate to end the first inning.
In that opening inning, UCLA (19-15, 7-5 Pac-12) scored two runs on four hits against starter Tyger Talley. Christoph Bono and Luke Persico each delivered two-out RBI singles, but Bono was cut down at the plate trying to score from second on Persico’s hit to left field.
Arizona (17-20, 6-9 Pac-12) answered with a run in the home half of the first. Gibbons led off with an infield single and later scored on Newman’s first of three hits.
The Bruins added another two-out run in the second when Keck, who led off with a single, was driven home with Brian Carroll’s single to right field.
The Wildcats were back at it with a run in the bottom of the inning. Kenny Meimerstorf ripped a double down the left field line to start the frame and he scored on Joseph Maggi’s sacrifice fly.
In the third, the Bruins added another run against Talley, who did not work past the third inning. The righty allowed four runs on seven hits, but did not walk a batter in his three innings.
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats surged ahead for the first time. Riley Moore doubled to lead off, prompting the Bruins to replace starter Cody Poteet.
Reliever Grant Dyer came on to walk Meimerstorf, and a passed ball on the play allowed Moore to advance to third. Dyer then threw a wild pitch to send Moore home and push Meimerstorf into scoring position.
Dyer walked Cody Ramer, before Maggi bunted both runners to second and third. Gibbons followed with his first of two doubles in the game, driving home the tying and go-ahead runs to give Arizona a 5-4 advantage.
The lead did not last long. Reliever Morgan Earman walked Carroll, and Kevin Williams later tied the game with a two-out RBI single to centerfield.
That would be all the scoring until the ninth inning as both bullpens settled down.
The Bruins opted to bring in their closer, Berg, with one out in the sixth inning. The righty stranded a pair of Wildcats on the bases in that frame, and did not allow a runner to reach base in the seventh or eighth innings.
Arizona countered with lefty Cody Moffett, who inherited a runner after the Bruins tied the game against Earman in the fifth. Moffett when on to pitch 3.2 innings with just two hits allowed, before handing the game over to Bobby Dalbec with one out and a runner on in the top of the ninth.
Dalbec (W, 2-2) quickly got a pair of outs and sent the Wildcats to bat with the game tied 5-5.
The victory was Arizona’s fifth in its last six games and handed the club a second-straight Pac-12 Conference series win. It also represented the Wildcats first conference series win against UCLA since sweeping the Bruins in Los Angeles in 2005.
Arizona will hit the road for a three-game series against USC (17-17, 6-9) to be played Thursday-Saturday at Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles. All three games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network at 7 p.m. (PDT) each day.