The Arizona baseball season came to an end in Omaha, Neb., on Monday in a 14-5 loss at the hands of Pac-12 foe Stanford.
Arizona, which finishes 45-18, was held to just seven hits, while allowing 20 to Stanford hitters, who from the first pitch came out swinging.
A game that featured 19 total runs was scoreless through the first two innings, with Stanford pitcher Alex Williams and Arizona pitcher Garrett Irvin hanging back-and-forth zeroes on the scoreboard.
The box score, however, doesn’t tell the whole story.
Williams was dominant, setting down the first eight Arizona batters to start the game.
“He has good movement on his fastball, where you feel like it’s going to be on your barrel and then it moves off,” Arizona coach Jay Johnson said. “He has a really, really plus change-up. I don’t know where he sits as a draft prospect, but for me that’s one of the best pitchers we’ve seen the entire season and should be talked about as a draft prospect.”
Irvin, on the other hand, had constant traffic on the base path during his 2 1/3 inning of work. However, he held Stanford (39-16) at bay until the Cardinal exploded for a seven-run inning in the top of the third.
“Yeah, I think they had a really good plan against (Irvin),” Johnson said. “He made some mistakes. And those are big, strong, physical guys. At least in terms of the Pac-12, the two most physical teams made it here in us and them.”
It’s been tough for Irvin, who’s popular hashtag #Gary took storm in Tucson after his 10-strikeout, complete-game he threw against UC Santa Barbara in the Tucson Regional two to three weeks ago. He struggled against Ole Miss in the Super Regional matchup and struggled again at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha against Stanford.
— Arizona Baseball 🏆 (@ArizonaBaseball) June 21, 2021
Irvin was pulled, and freshman Chandler Murphy was brought in for relief. Murphy, who hasn’t pitched since the regional tournament, struggled with his breaking ball and gave up five hits, five earned runs, including a two-run home run in the top of the third inning by Tommy Troy that gave Stanford a 7-0 lead.
Stanford tacked on three more runs in the top of the fourth inning before Arizona struck for two in bottom of the fourth on a two-run double by Daniel Susac. The Wildcats finally showed some offensive production.
With a potent lineup like Arizona’s, the Wildcats always feel like the game is within reach. Even down 10-2, there was an optimism throughout Wildcats fans that this offense could dig themselves out of the hole with their backs against the wall, facing elimination.
The fifth inning added to that belief, as the Wildcats added three more runs thanks to the heart of the order getting things going and the bottom of the lineup picking them up on base, making it 10-5. Susac had another RBI double and Kobe Kato knocked in Susac with a triple.
The wheels felt like they were going in the right direction.
Stanford’s Williams, who went 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and four earned runs, said that he felt great to start, but noticed a change as he neared the end of his start.
“I think I just didn’t have my best stuff today,” he said. “Kind of showed. Got a little tired there. I think I just wasn’t in the best state of mind. But at the end of the day very fortunate enough to have our offense pick me up today.”
Arizona’s threat didn’t last long. Stanford’s red-hot offense struck again in the top of the sixth.
The Cardinal tacked on four more runs, three on a home run by Brock Jones, and completely ended all of the momentum that Arizona had spent three innings building. The game was essentially over.
Johnson remained proud of the way his team continued to fight, even being down 10-0 against a good Stanford team.
“I was really proud of them for that,” he said. “We just couldn’t keep them off the board, in the ballpark, off the barrel of the bat. And it made it really difficult to get any solid momentum in coming back.”
Donta’ Williams, who will be a prospect in the upcoming MLB Draft, was a part of Jay Johnson’s early recruiting classes with Arizona after he took the job.
Potentially @dtwill23's last game at Arizona. Quite a journey to now from when he unofficially visited UA/Hi Corbett Field as a junior in HS in 2015 the summer of Jay Johnson's hire. His course will continue in pro ball with all signs pointing toward a high level of success. pic.twitter.com/IL0TmmufHB
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) June 21, 2021
Before he left the podium, Johnson took some time to speak on what No. 23 has meant to the Arizona program.
“He’s a special one and one we’re going to miss. His on-the-field contribution was amazing” said Johnson. “I thought it was awesome that he was a named first-team All-American the other day. He certainly deserved it. And the only thing he’s better at than playing baseball is he’s a first-class and quality human being.”
Williams, who first visited Arizona during his junior year of high school in 2015 on an un-official visit, said that what he will miss the most is the time spent with his teammates, both on the field and in the facilities at Hi Corbett Field.
“I mean, from the locker room, weight room, the competitiveness, the music in the hitting facility. Every day they just come out and give everything that they have, and that’s why we’re in this situation,” Williams said. “I’m blessed to be part of this team. I’m very grateful with the group of men that we have and what they developed to become.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Harrison Moreno is a southern Arizona native who has watched Wildcat athletics since he was young kid. He recently is a graduate of The University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, with a focus in broadcast and audio journalism.