Arizona lost its 10th straight Pac-12 game for the first time since 1990 on Thursday evening, losing to Washington 13-8 in front of 2,693 fans at Hi Corbett Field.
The 1990 team lost 12 consecutive games against conference opponents.
The Wildcats (14-13, 3-10) came back from a 5-0 third-inning deficit Thursday night to take an 8-7 lead heading into the ninth inning, but their relief pitching did not provide the relief they desperately needed.
After Trevor Long took the mound in the top of the ninth and recorded his first out, the pitching woes that plagued Arizona through the conference losing streak reared its ugly head again.
After Johnny Tincher singled to center field, Will Simpson homered to left field to give Washington a 9-8 lead. Jeter Ybarra singled to left field later in the inning, scoring Coby Morales and Tincher to extend Washington’s lead to 11-8.
Derek Drees took the mound for Arizona, but that didn’t stop Washington’s onslaught at the plate. Snyder hit a deep two-run homer over the left-center wall to extend the Huskies’ lead to 13-8.
Arizona head coach Chip Hale was at somewhat of a loss as to how the Wildcats can pull themselves out of this slump that includes sweeps at the hands of UCLA, ASU and Oregon.
“I mean, we’re trying. We’ve done a lot of things, and there’s a lot of things I’ve said to them, but in the end, we just have to win a game, and we have to battle and be better the other team, and right now we haven’t been, which is unfortunate,” Hale said. “I don’t really have any words for it. As I told them after, ‘If we don’t like losing, then we have to do a better job and even score more runs if we have to, and just find a way.'”
Arizona pitching in the last seven games has allowed 110 hits and 71 earned runs in 62 innings (including tonight, losing 13-8 in the bottom of the ninth). That’s a 10.31 ERA and an average of 15.7 hits allowed a game in these last seven games. Unreal.
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) April 7, 2023
It didn’t take long for Washington to take control of the game, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning.
After Cam Clayton singled to left field off Arizona starting pitcher Anthony Susac, Susac walked Tincher before giving up a three-run home run over the center field wall to Morales.
Washington (19-8, 6-4) got two more runs in the top of the third inning when a single through the middle by Michael Snyder scored AJ Guerrero and Morales to put the Huskies up 5-0.
Arizona got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Emilio Corona tripled on a deep ball to right field, and a deep triple to left field by Mac Bingham brought Corona home. Nik McClaughry followed Bingham with an RBI single to right center field to close the gap to 5-2 with one out before Chase Davis grounded into a double play.
Jackson Kent steadied the ship, when he came in for Susac in the fourth inning. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, two runs with five strikeouts.
Arizona got another run in the bottom of the fifth. After the Wildcats loaded the bases with a walk from Corona, a single from Bingham to left-center field, and a fielding error got McClaughry on base, Davis walked, scoring Corona. But Arizona could not further capitalize on the opportunity, with Kiko Romero flying out and Cameron LaLiberte grounding out to end the inning.
Ybarra added to Washington’s lead in the top of the sixth, when he scored off a groundout from Cole Miller to extend the Huskies’ lead to 6-3.
In the bottom of the sixth, Tommy Splaine singled down the right field line, and Tony Bullard followed him by singling through the left side.
Then Bingham brought life to an otherwise previously quiet stadium with a three-run homer crushed over the left field wall that scored Bullard and Splaine, and evened the game with Washington at 6-6 heading into the seventh.
In the top of the eighth, Guerrero hit a solo home run to give Washington the lead again at 7-6.
That prompted Hale to make a pitching change, when he chose to replace Kent with Dawson Netz.
“He’d been pitching so well. He made the one bad pitch for the home run, but other than that, he did a good job,” Hale said of Kent’s performance.
In the bottom of the inning, Splaine singled to center field and was advanced to second base when Bullard walked. Tyler Casagrande, who pinch hit for Corona on the next at-bat, struck out. Bingham flew out to right field before McClaughry hit a shallow blooper to right-center field, and advanced to second on a throwing error. The hit scored Splaine and Bullard to give Arizona an 8-7 lead.
The will to compete when the team falls behind is something Hale has noticed with his offense.
“I think that they’ve proven that over and over that they’re not going to give up. They keep fighting, and they will keep fighting. There’ll be no giving up and as long as I’m here,” he said.
Arizona continues its three-game series with Washington on Friday at 6 p.m., when the Wildcats will try to avoid losing their fourth straight conference series after sweeping Cal at the start.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.