The Wildcats rebounded after game one, with Kyle Simon throwing his fourth career complete came in game two, followed by a gritty rally by the Cats in the finale, scoring five unanswered runs in the 7th inning to climb out of an early 4-0 deficit.
WildcatAuthority.com recaps what was a very positive weekend for the Wildcats.
Saturday 5/14: Washington State 7 Arizona 6
W: Anthony Drobnick (1-1) L: Matt Chaffee (5-3)
Sunday 5/15: Arizona 8 Washington State 1
W: Kyle Simon (9-3) L: Chad Arnold (2-4)
Monday 5/16: Arizona 6 Washington State 4
W: Bryce Bandilla (4-1) L: James Wise (4-6)
Player of the Series: Kyle Simon. He earned the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week award this week for his performance on Sunday afternoon, and for good reason. Simon allowed just one run on six hits, as he tossed his fourth career complete game over the weekend. Even more impressive was the fact he did it against a team in Washington State that is currently second in the conference in homers (26) in a game Arizona absolutely had to have after dropping the opener.
Unsung Hero: Bryce Bandilla. Whether he'll ever fully turn it around we may never know, but Monday night Bandilla was solid. He went 3.1 innings, giving up zero runs on two hits and one walk. He was the example of the "bridge" Arizona has been missing all year to eventually get to Matt Chaffee. Not only did Bandilla pitch well, but also he performed when the Wildcats needed him to, giving the offense enough time to mount a five-run rally in the seventh. If he can consistently do this, the Wildcats have the starting pitching and the offensive firepower to compete with anyone in the country. The key is consistency.
1. Heart of Champion: The Wildcats trailed 4-0 entering the 7th frame Monday night. Instead of folding, the offense unleashed an attack that would see five runs cross the plate in the seventh. The bullpen then did its part, combining to throw four scoreless innings. The last three innings of Monday night's contest was some of the most inspiring baseball this team has played all year.
2. Going Streaking: While Arizona's season-long six game hit streak was snapped Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats still have another streak intact. For the first time this year the Cats have won three series in a row and back-to-back conference series.
3. Lucky number 11: The winning team in every game this series had 11 hits each time. Luckily for Wildcats, they had two games with 11 knocks.
1. Brooms left in the Closet: As great as Arizona finished the series, there's no doubt the Wildcats could have and maybe should have earned the series sweep. Arizona blew a big lead in the opener and even came back to tie it in the ninth. But at this point, it's a bases loaded, two out walk in the bottom of the 10th by Matt Chaffee that spells the difference between a sweep and a series win for Arizona.
2. Kurt Heyer: He's been on the other side of this list countless times this year, but Heyer sputtered in the opener. He allowed five earned runs on nine hits in 6.2 innings Saturday afternoon. It's now three straight starts where he hasn't had his best stuff, and you can't help but wonder if Heyer isn't starting to fizzle out like he did a year ago.
3. Far from a sell out: Yes it was a rainy weekend. Yes school was out, but Washington State and Arizona played basically in front of squirrels and some birds looking for some free concession food. There were 804 people in the stands; for the series combined. Ouch.
The big picture: After the series win, the Wildcats are above .500 in conference play for the first time since March 25. Arizona now sits at 11-10 in the Pac-10, just a game back of California for fourth place and three games back of UCLA and Arizona State for the second spot with six league contests left.
On Deck: The Wildcats will stay on the road as they head up to Stanford this Friday for yet another pivotal conference weekend series with the Cardinal.