Freshman Lucas Long's five innings of work from the bullpen settled down the Wildcats as No. 8 Arizona rallied to defeat Utah Valley, 12-6.
Feb. 21, 2012
Arizona 12, Utah Valley 6 (Box Score)
TUCSON, Ariz. - Freshman Lucas Long turned in five strong innings out of the bullpen to settle down No. 8 Arizona, which stormed back from an early deficit to knock off Utah Valley, 12-6, before a crowd of 1,694 on Tuesday at Hi Corbett Field.
Utah Valley (1-3) held a 4-1 lead with one out in the top of the third inning and was poised to tack on more with runners at the corners. That was when Long came on in relief of starter Tyler Hale and, on the first pitch of his collegiate career, induced an inning-ended and momentum-changing double-play.
The Wolverines added a run in the top of the fourth, but the Wildcats quickly answered with a tally of their own in the home half of the fourth before erupting for eight runs in the next two innings. By the end of the sixth inning, UA had its first lead of the contest at 10-5.
Long (1-0) earned his first collegiate pitching victory in his five innings of work. He gave up two runs, scattered four hits, struck out six and walked none in his debut. Freshman Mathew Troupe pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings with two strikeouts to close the game.
Arizona (3-1) struggled early at the plate against Wolverine starter Adam Gunn, who gave up just two runs over the first four innings. But Gunn ran into trouble with a pair of walks to open the bottom of the fifth inning and the floodgates were opened against the Wolverine bullpen.
Ryan Chadwick held the Wildcats to just two runs in the fifth, but the damage could have been much worse. With two outs and runners at second and third, Alex Mejia pulled a line drive down the line where third baseman Jake Rickenbach made a diving play to save two runs and rob Mejia of a sure double.
Long then kept momentum on the Wildcats' side, striking out all three opposing hitters he faced in the top of the sixth. That set the stage for a six-run inning in the bottom of the sixth.
Rickard drew a leadoff walk from Chadwick, who was quickly replaced by Justin Campbell. The right-hander allowed a base hit to Trent Gilbert, then hit Robert Refsnyder with a pitch and forced in a run with a walk to Johnny Field.
The Wolverines went on to use five pitchers in the inning as the Wildcats scored six times despite collecting only two hits. Otherwise the UVU bullpen walked three, hit two and saw one error committed before the inning was over. Campbell (0-1) was charged with three earned runs and suffered the loss.
Arizona took its 10-5 lead into the eighth inning, when UVU tacked on a run to make it a four-run margin. The Wildcats answered with two runs in the bottom of the eighth to set the score at its final, 12-6.
The top five spots in the UA batting order combined for 10 of the team's season-high 12 base hits. Wildcat hitters drew nine walks and were hit by two pitches.
Rickard led the Wildcats with four hits on the evening, collected a run and two RBI. Field was officially 1-for-1 at the plate, but drew four walks and had two runs scored.
Utah Valley opened the game with three runs in the top of the first, and added another run in the third off Hale, who made his first start of the year. Hale gave up four runs on seven hits in 2.1 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. He did not factor into the decision.
Arizona will return to action to host a three-game series against Auburn on Friday at 6 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field. The two teams will play a double-header beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday to conclude the series.