Wildcats get gritty win

Arizona came up in clutch situations numerous times to defeat Utah valley 6-3 on Saturday night.

For the second straight night Arizona didn't play top-notch baseball, but for the second game in a row the Wildcats were able to get the ideal result, a 6-3 victory over Utah Valley on Saturday night.

A big reason for that was Kyle Simon, who despite scattering eight hits, only allowed three runs on 7.1 innings pitched.

"I can get strikeouts here and there, but I like pitching to contact and getting easy ground balls for my infielders," said Simon. "Usually a guy will get pulled after giving up a few hits, but I don't allow teams to string together hits. I also use the double play ball, that helps."

If it weren't for six issued walks for Utah Valley, this might have been a different ball game, as Arizona's offense was contained for the most part, scoring no more than two runs in any single inning. In fact Jett Bandy led the Cats in RBIs with three tonight, with one of those RBIs coming on a double play ball in the 5th inning.

Arizona didn't get the big inning it's used to getting out of its offense, but sometimes that's ok.

"It's just college baseball, all it takes is one guy pitching well on the mound to kind of throw you off," said UA head coach Andy Lopez. "Then you have some balls like we had tonight that we thought were homeruns, but then I remembered ‘oh yeah, these are new bats'.

"But it's good though, I think it's good, it forces these guys to play the game properly, learn to bunt or hit and run; there's not going to be a lot of homerun derby involved."

The Wildcats took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning and as it did Friday night, the offense, while not spectacular, found a way to manufacture runs when it needed to.

After a one out single by Josh Garcia, Bobby Rinard came in to pinch run for him, stole second base, and eventually found himself at third thanks to a Johnny Field walk followed by a wild pitch.

One batter later, Alex Mejia struck out, but reached base anyway, thanks to a passed ball by Utah Valley reliever Preston Olson, which led to Arizona's fifth run of the game.

The Cats eventually went on to score one more to make it 6-3, then it was up Arizona reliever Nick Cunningham to shut the door.

Cunningham in his long awaited debut, after injuring an oblique muscle earlier in the season while warming up, came in and picked up the save, going 1.2 innings and allowing zero runs on one hit.

It wasn't a performance worthy of an academy award, but luckily for Arizona, two things measure team success in baseball: wins and losses.

The Cats have eight wins and two losses and according to senior shortstop Bryce Ortega, that's good enough for him.

"We're not going to always win by huge margins, if the hitting comes around then that's great, but as long as we play good defense and have solid pitching, we're going to win games and I think that's what you want to do," Ortega said.

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