By Daniel Berk / UA Sports
PHOENIX, Ariz. – JJ Matijevic had four hits and Seve Romo pitched 3 1/3 strong innings in relief to lift the Arizona Wildcats to a 7-3 win over Grand Canyon on Tuesday night at Brazell Stadium.
The win lifted the Wildcats to 24-8 on the season, and coach Jay Johnson’s team has now won eight of its last nine games. Matijevic, who now has two four-hit games in his last four games, went 4 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI, one day after earning Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.
Of course it took Arizona’s offense a couple of innings to get going in its second midweek game against Grand Canyon this season.
Scoreless in the third, the Wildcats opened the scoring with a two-out rally in the top half of the inning. Alfonso Rivas drew a two-out walk and moved up a base on a single from Jared Oliva. That brought up Matijevic, who singled up the middle to score Rivas for the first run of the game and move Oliva over to third base. Following a pitching change, Oliva was able to score on a wild pitch while Nick Quintana was batting.
Austin Schnabel, who took over for starter Cody Deason after two scoreless frames, pitched a scoreless third to keep the Cats up two. Arizona then added to its lead in the fourth and give a bit more breathing room.
The Cats loaded the bases with no outs when Cameron Cannon walked, Cesar Salazar reached on a fielder’s choice and Louis Boyd walked. Mitchell Morimoto then brought Cannon home on an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 3-0. With two outs, Salazar then swiped home to make it 4-0, while Morimoto, who was on first, got hung up long enough to allow Salazar to score.
The Antelopes cut into Arizona’s lead in the bottom of the fourth with a pair of runs as Arizona went through three pitchers in the inning. But Seve Romo, who entered with two outs, got a ground out to end the inning and keep Arizona’s lead at 4-2.
The Cats were held off the scoreboard in the fifth, but added to their lead with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh. In the sixth, Salazar was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Boyd. Morimoto then laced a double down the right field line to score Salazar and make it 5-2.
An inning later, the Cats added a couple more insurance runs. Matijevic started the inning with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Quintana then plated Matijevic with an opposite field double to make it 6-2. Arizona added its final run when Quintana scored on a wild pitch, after being sacrificed over to third by Kyle Lewis.
Michael Flynn tossed a scoreless eighth, replacing Romo and Tylor Megill pitched the ninth to close it down. Oliva finished 2 for 5 with a run scored and Morimoto was also 2 for 5 with a pair of RBI. Quintana doubled, walked and was hit by a pitch. He has reached base safely in 21 straight games, the longest such streak by a freshman since Cole Frenzel reached base in 22 straight in 2010.
Rivas improved to 2-0 on the season, earning the win. He gave up one hit, walked two and struck out two.
Arizona will now head back to Hi Corbett to host Oregon for a three-game series starting Thursday.
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