The winning streak is over for Arizona baseball.
The nationally ranked wildcats lost for the first time in 11 games on Friday night, dropping the second of a three-game set to Wichita State, 10-9, in a long, ugly competition.
Despite leaving 11 men at the base, Arizona’s offense put them in a good enough position to win the match, scoring 9 runs and counting 10 hits, but the Wildcats were not good enough defensively to earn 11th right victory Friday night.
The Cats committed a season-high 5 errors in the loss, all of which helped lead a total of six unearned races to get over for the Shockers.
It was an ugly affair on both sides, when Wichita State’s manager was thrown out in the fourth half, and the two teams combined to make 7 mistakes, while allowing a total of 8 unearned races.
However, Arizona’s poor defensive play was summed up when Wichita State took the lead for good at the top of the seventh round.
With the team leading 9-8 and a runner on third and two outs, UA head coach Jay Johnson called on Vince Vannelle out of the bullpen to relieve a strenuous Ian churchill.
Vannelle, Johnson goes to the guy out of the pen in press situations, did his job and induced a helicopter to Jacob Blas at shortstop. It was a helicopter that should have ended the round with Arizona management intact.
It did not, and instead Blas threw, after felling the ball clean, the ball short of first and in the dirt in front Branden Boissiere by the backpack. Boissiere, who is usually excellent at getting balls, failed to place it safely and the tie-breaker scored as the ball rolled past him. The Shockers ended up going 10-9 on the next stroke on a double deep down the left field line.
Arizona quietly went down to seventh, eighth and ninth and never held the lead again.
“We just did not play good catch,” Johnson said. “We made some mistakes and baseball will reward the team that plays best, and Wichita State handled the ball much better. We can definitely play better, we have played better and we will play better tomorrow. ”
The Wildcats came early in the game, as a starting pitcher Chandler Murphy allowed five races to come over for the Shockers at the top of the second inning. Not surprisingly, there was a mistake involved in the early offensive attack.
However, Arizona showed some serious decision as they responded with four own runs at the bottom of the second, making it 5-4, and then even more by taking a 6-5 lead at the bottom of the third by getting two more on across.
Murphy came back after the rocky second half on the mound with a strong third, but was chased out of the game by two outs in the fourth half. The Wildcats defense did nothing to help their starting pitcher, making three mistakes in the frame and allowing a total of three runs (all undeserved) to come over.
Of the eight races that Murphy allowed, only four were earned.
Churchill then came in and closed the tide, got out of the jam that was left for him in the fourth and shot pointless laps in the fifth and sixth. It was only after he was taken out on the seventh that the run that was charged to him came around to score.
After 8-6, the Wildcats put up a separate three-pointer at the bottom of the fourth to take a 9-8 lead, but failed to get anything else to go after it. When Wichita State took the lead on the seventh, it was enough to seal the fate of the feral cats.
Vannelle eventually took the loss on the mound, while Boissiere went 3-4 with an RBI and Daniel Susac and Tony Bullard ran in two races apiece.
The Wildcats (11-3) and Shockers (7-4) are back on Saturday in the series finale. The first pitch is scheduled for 6pm MST.