Good Friday was very good to the Arizona Wildcats as they broke their 10-game Pac-12 losing streak with a 12-4 win over Washington at Hi Corbett Field
A visibly happy Chip Hale’s message to his team: “Just proud of them, excited for them because I know they’ve been grinding so hard to get this victory and we’re not done. Tomorrow, we try to win the series against a good team. We have to battle.”
Arizona (15-13, 4-10 Pac-12) has a chance to win the series over Washington (19-9, 5-5) Saturday at noon at Hi Corbett.
Arizona starting pitcher Bradon Zastrow (3-1) was solid on the mound for the Wildcats, earning the win, pitching five innings allowing eight hits, four runs with four strike outs. .
TJ Nichols, who relieved Zastrow in the sixth inning, recorded his first career save. Nichols pitched four innings with two hits allowed with no runs and two strike outs.
Nichols, who had been a starter since last year, moved to the bullpen when he struggled against Oregon.
“They said I was gonna pitch important innings and I was excited to get that role going. I feel comfortable out of the bullpen or starting” Nichols said.
Washington struck first when Coby Morales hit a single up the middle plating Will Simpson.
Arizona was still on defense, when Hale challenged a safe call at first base. The call was overturned, and Johnny Tincher was called out.
Arizona’s offense took off in the bottom of the first inning.
Kiko Romero (Canyon del Oro product) hit a two-run home run, his 12th of the season and sixth in Pac-12 play, putting the Wildcats ahead 2-1 in the first.
Romero’s homer went 458 feet at 109 MPH and had a hang time of 5 seconds.
Arizona added a run in the second inning when Mac Bingham hit a sacrifice fly ball to center that brought Tony Bullard home.
The Wildcats plated five runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Emilio Corona, formerly of Washington and Pima College, smacked a solid double down the left field line scoring Tommy Splaine and Romero.
Washington’s coach challenged the safe call on Splaine at home plate.
Splaine slid headfirst and the catcher went to tag him at the same time he hit the base. The call was upheld, and Splaine was safe.
Bullard, making his presence felt after missing several games at the start of Pac-12 play due to a concussion, hit a two-run double that scored Salpointe product Mason White and Corona. Bullard had three doubles in the game.
Bullard on having four hits in the last two games: “We had inner squads during the week, I did well in that too. I think I’m just seeing the ball well.”
Huskies grabbed one back in the fourth when Michael Snyder hit a double to right field scoring AJ Guerrero.
Washington added another two runs in the fifth on two RBI ground outs by Will Simpson and Tincher.
The bottom of the fifth inning was a series of unfortunate or fortunate events, depending on which team you were on.
White, who came in to replace Garen Caulfield at second base, doubled to start the fifth, Bullard hit a high pop up to center field that the Husky second baseman lost in the lights and dropped.
Tyler Casagrande bunted, advancing White and Bullard. The Washington first baseman couldn’t handle the throw. Casagrande advanced to second, Bullard advanced to third and White scored.
Arizona grabbed another run in the sixth when White hit a double, followed by a Bullard double that scored White.
The Wildcats’ final run of the game came in the eighth inning when White hit his second career home run, a solo to center field.
As Nichols notched the final out in the ninth inning, the 3,902 fans in attendance released their collective held breath, celebrated the win and the end of the conference losing streak, the second-longest in program history.