Konner Wade was the bright spot of the day as the sophomore right-hander from Scottsdale set a career high with thirteen strikeouts while only allowing two hits in 7 and 1/3 innings. Although the pitching line was impressive, the Bison worked the count against Wade, which in turn, increased his pitching count more then he would have liked.
"We have to get better as a pitching staff and throw more strikes, myself included," Wade said. "Tonight was a good night for strikeouts, but that's not my game. I need to keep my pitch count down and force ground balls."
The Wildcats' offense found some success in the third inning thanks to some aggressive base running. UA centerfielder Joey Rickard drew a walk, stole second, took third on a sacrifice fly to left field and eventually scored on an infield hit by Robert Refsnyder.
Refsnyder then proceeded to steal second then third base and scored on a double steal attempt that ended the wild inning with the Wildcats leading by a score of 2-0.
In the fifth inning, North Dakota State found the scoreboard as left fielder Kyle Kleinendorst hit a two run bomb to deep center field to tie up the score.
Both offenses were stymied by strong starting pitching until the Wildcats' bullpen and defense imploded in the 8th inning. After Wade was pulled, Vincent Littleman, Stephen Manthei and Nick Cunningham struggled to get the final two outs as they combined to give up six runs on three hits and four walks. The Wildcat defense also committed two errors in a messy inning that had Arizona fans scurrying for the exits.
Arizona was never able to figure out North Dakota State starting pitcher Luke Anderson as he went seven strong innings, giving up only two hits and two runs while striking out three Wildcats.
"Obviously our pen was very disappointing and you have to give credit where credit is do," said Coach Andy Lopez. "They played the game very soundly when they had to in the last couple innings and obviously we did not do a very good job by walking people, making some errors and struggling at the plate."
First pitch for the rubber game of the series is scheduled for 12 pm Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats will get a look at sophomore pitcher James Farris as he makes the first start of his career.
"We will see what type of character our guys have in the coming games," Lopez said. "This group has had pretty good character in the past, so tomorrow will be a very exciting and telling day."
World Champion and 1980 Golden spikes winner Terry Francona made a special appearance Saturday as he signed autographs and also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.