Arizona's bats were quiet on Saturday and its bullpen collapsed in the eighth inning to hand North Dakota State a stunning 8-2 victory.
Feb. 18, 2012
NDSU 8, Arizona 2 (Box Score)
TUCSON, Ariz. - Visiting North Dakota State scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to spoil a 13-strikeout performance by No. 5 Arizona's Konner Wade as the Wildcats dropped their first game of the season before a crowd of 2,920 at Hi Corbett Field on Saturday night. The rubber match of the three-game series is set for noon on Sunday.
A listless Arizona offensive lineup through two games mustered a pair of runs in the top of the third inning to claim an early 2-0 advantage. But despite a career-high strikeout total by Wade, the Bison evened the game in the top of the fifth inning.
Kirk Kenneally snapped a streak of five-consecutive strikeouts by Wade as the designated hitter was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth. Left fielder Kyle Kleinendorst followed with a two-run home run over the 392-foot sign in centerfield to tie the game.
Wade carried the 2-2 game into the eighth inning, retiring the first batter he faced with a lineout to centerfield. From there the Wildcats opted to go to the bullpen and that was when things fell apart.
Vincent Littleman replaced Wade and issued a walk to the only batter he faced. Stephen Manthei, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief on Friday, was called on in place of Littleman. Manthei surrendered two hits, including a double to right centerfield off the bat of Zach Wentz that pushed across the go-ahead run.
With runners on the corners and one out, Nick Cunningham entered but was unable to limit the damage. The Bison quickly added another run on an RBI single by Wes Satzinger. After a line-out, Cunningham issued a pair of walks to load the bases and set up a bizarre play that sealed the fate of the Wildcats.
Facing Max Casper, Cunningham hurled a wild pitch into the dirt that skipped off catcher Riley Moore and bounced towards the on deck circle on the third base side. Moore was unable to locate the direction of the deflection, which forced Cunningham to race to pick up the ball at the backstop. Two runs scored on the wild pitch, and the bases were cleared as a third scored when Cunningham's throw to home plate sailed wide.
When it was all said and done, the Bison had a six-run cushion. That was more than plenty for reliever Kyle Kingsley, who tossed two scoreless innings to close out the game. Starter Luke Anderson scattered a pair of hits and five walks over seven innings to earn the victory.
Wade did not factor into the decision for Arizona (1-1). Littleman was charged with the loss.
Arizona opened the scoring following a one-out walk to Joey Rickard in the home half of the third inning. Rickard stole second and moved to third after tagging up on a flyout by Trent Gilbert. Refsnyder drove in Rickard with an infield single, and Refsnyder eventually scored on a double-steal attempt later in the inning before the third out was recorded.
North Dakota State (1-1) out-hit the Wildcats 7-4 in the game. Three of the Wildcats four hits came off the bats of Refsnyder and Johnny Field, who have combined for eight of the club's 11 hits over two games.
The two teams conclude the series on Sunday at noon. James Farris is scheduled to make his first career start for the Wildcats, while Wentz is the slated starter for the Bison.