Arizona welcomed the 2021 season with a 3-0 win over the Ball State Cardinals last night at Hi Corbett Field.
Sophomore right-hander Chase Silseth earned the Opening Night start for the Wildcats and the transfer from the College of Southern Nevada struck out seven and allowed three hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.
It was third Opening Night shutout under sixth-year coach Jay Johnson. The Wildcats struck out 14 batters and allowed just five hits and only three walks. Arizona’s pitchers notched 10-plus strikeouts for the 12th time in 16 games under associate head coach Nate Yeskie, who came to the Wildcats from perennial power Oregon State.
After two quick flies to start the bottom half of the first inning, Arizona’s second baseman Kobe Kato and Branden Boissiere were both walked. What followed was an aggressive 2-and-2 count, hit-and-run cashed in by Arizona’s designated hitter Ryan Holgate, who doubled to the right-center field gap for a 2-0 lead..
In the top of the fourth inning, after allowing two hits and a mound visit, Silseth settled down and punched out center fielder Aaron Simpson.
In the bottom of the fifth, after allowing a leadoff walk to Arizona’s center-fielder Donta’ Williams, Ball State starter Ty Weatherly was pulled out of the game. Weatherly allowed three hits and two runs while striking out three.
3-0 Cats! pic.twitter.com/r3xrOBzRvK
— Jay Johnson (@UACoachJ) February 20, 2021
Zach Losey came in from the bullpen, and after a base hit by Jacob Blas and a successful bunt by Kato, Arizona added one more run after a fielder’s choice.
In the top half of the sixth, after a walk, two hit-by-pitches and a passed ball, Silseth was pulled out.
Preston Price came in from the bullpen and struck out Simpson to escape from a bases-loaded jam.
Top half of the seventh inning began with what should have been a triple for Ball State, but after that play, Arizona threw to second and umpire Kellen Levy called pinch-hitter Decker Scheffler out for missing the bag while rounding it.
In the top half of the eighth, after his fourth strikeout, Price was replaced by left-hand reliever Ian Churchill. Churchill retired the next two hitters with a strikeout and groundout.
Vince Vannelle came in to close out the ball game earning the save.
The Wildcats will continue their four-game series with the Cardinals on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The game will be broadcast live on KCUB (1290-AM) with the Voice of the Wildcats Brian Jeffries calling the action. It can also be watched streamed live at ArizonaWildcats.com.