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Arizona pastes WSU in baseball series opener

PULLMAN – Arizona continued its recent offensive blitz on Friday, tattooing Washington State starting pitcher Sean Hartnett with five fourth-inning runs on the way to a 14-5 win in the first game of the Pac-12 series. The Wildcats win comes on the heels of a 17-6 win over Arizona State in Tucson, which snapped a seven-game losing streak for Arizona (26-17, 10-12). The loss drops Hartnett to 3-4. Arizona starter Cody Hamlin (4-4) got the win after going eight innings while allowing 10 hits and four earned runs. Hartnett made it out of the first two innings unscathed but needed 44 pitches to do so. He would have made it through three with no runs but a two-out error committed when first baseman Tyler McDowell ran into catcher P.J. Jones on a routine popup above home plate gave the Wildcats an extra chance. They capitalized during the next at-bat as Jared Olivia’s single scored two and tied the game. The Cougars (24-20, 7-12) took the lead in the first inning as Cooper Elliott got aboard with a single and advanced to third on a double by Ian Sagdal. Ben Roberts brought Elliott home with a sacrifice fly and Sagdal scored when P.J. Jones singled. The backbreaker for WSU came in the fourth, beginning when Riley Moore doubled to score Kyle Newman, who had walked. Hartnett then hit Bobby Dalbec with a pitch and Michael Hoard followed with an RBI double. JJ Matijevic – who finished a double shy of the cycle in the win over ASU – punctuated the inning with a three-run home run. The Wildcats scored in every remaining inning except the seventh. Moore went 2 for 3 for the Wildcats with a pair of doubles, but the game’s most impressive play came courtesy of Newman in the bottom of the fourth. Shortstop Newman, who ESPN’s Keith Law ranks as the second-best prospect in the 2015 MLB draft, seemingly covered half the field to make a sliding catch on a pop fly against the left-field fence, contributing to a stretch when Hamlin retired 10 consecutive batters. WSU has been hot recently, winning six of seven heading into Friday night’s game. To have any postseason chance, the Cougars likely need to achieve at least a .500 winning percentage in Pac-12 play, and with a series at No. 10 Arizona State looming, these games against the previously struggling Wildcats are crucial. The Cougars will need to win both games this weekend to continue their recent streak of series wins, taking two of three from their last three Pac-12 opponents.
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