Arizona clawed its way back Sunday from an early deficit, but couldn’t muster enough runs to win the final game of the series with Oregon, suffering its ninth consecutive loss in the Pac-12.
The Wildcats (14-12, 3-9 Pac-12) lost 8-5 to the Ducks (18-7, 5-3) at Hi Corbett Field in front of a crowd of 3,343 fans.
Arizona coach Chip Hale returned after serving a two-game suspension after being ejected on Tuesday in the non-conference win over Grand Canyon at Hi Corbett.
Arizona has now been swept in three consecutive conference series (UCLA, ASU and Oregon) after taking all three games against Cal to open Pac-12 play last month.
Getting runners on base was not a problem for the Wildcats on Sunday, but bringing them home proved challenging as 12 runners were left on base.
That’s a recurring problem. In Arizona’s 13-11 loss on Saturday night, the Wildcats also left 12 runners on base.
“That’s baseball. What’re you gonna do?” Chase Davis said.
Hale added the way Arizona is playing is “not acceptable.”
“It’s not acceptable to lose three series in a row and get swept,” Hale said. “I’m not happy about it, but I think what we did in the second half of today’s game, I think we can take something from that, practice hard for the next three days and get ready for Washington.”
The Huskies (18-8, 5-4) and Wildcats start a three-game series at Hi Corbett Field on Thursday night at 6 p.m.
Just when the Hi Corbett crowd thought it was over Sunday with the Wildcats trailing 7-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the bats surged. Arizona scored three times to make it 7-4, largely in part to back-to-back home runs by Davis and CDO grad Kiko Romero.
Pima College product Emilio Corona kept the comeback hopes alive with another home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, making it a 7-5 game going into the ninth.
The surge in the seventh and eighth innings was “huge,” according to Hale.
“They have big power and emotion,” he added. “The guys started to get emotional. Obviously, there was a little bit of talk back and forth between both teams and our guys started to get a little bit of edge to it.”
After Oregon increased the lead to 8-5 in the top of the ninth, Arizona’s Cameron LaLiberte reached first base after being hit by a pitch.
But the next three batters were retired to end the game.
Oregon took a 1-0 lead in the first winning when Sabin Ceballos singled to left field to score Rikuu Nishida from second base.
Oregon designated hitter Jacob Walsh led off the second inning and homered in his first at-bat, digging the Wildcats in a deeper hole at 2-0 with no outs.
Starting pitcher Aiden May quickly rebounded and retired the next three batters.
With out in the top of the third, Oregon’s Drew Cowley hit a two-run home run to put the Wildcats behind 4-1.
Oregon put one more run on the board at the top of the fifth when Colby Shade reached second base on a fielder’s error by Mac Bingham, scoring Gavin Grant from second.
Cowley connected on another home run, a two-run shot in the seventh to increase Oregon’s lead to 7-1.
Davis’ home run in the bottom of the seventh also scored Nik McClaughry, who earlier tripled.
Romero followed Davis’ home run with his own to cut the lead to 7-4.
After another scoreless inning by the Ducks, the Wildcats continued to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when Corona led off with his solo blast over the right-field wall.
The loss drops Aiden May’s record to 2-2. Through five innings, May allowed five hits and five earned runs with two strikeouts.
Garen Caulfield and McLaughry were the lone Arizona players with at least two hits. Both were 2 for 4.