Wildcats Win Thriller in Corvallis, Clinch Share of Pac-12 Championship
CORVALLIS, Ore. — In a comeback for the history books, the Arizona Wildcats (38-14, 21-9) scored five runs across the final two frames to steal a 6-5 victory over the Oregon State Beavers (33-20, 15-12) on Sunday afternoon.
Arizona's win, coupled with the Stanford Cardinal's victory over the Oregon Ducks, secured at least a Pac-12 Co-Championship for the Wildcats. Arizona earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and are still in the running for an outright conference championship.
The Wildcats finished their 2021 Pac-12 schedule with a record of 21-9, giving them the second-most conference wins in program history.
Down 5-1 heading into the eighth, the Wildcats began to mount their comeback. Four consecutive singles brought in a pair of runs and a wild pitch cut the Beavers lead to one.
Kobe Kato capped off the four-run eighth with a looped single over the head of the Oregon State third baseman to bring in the tying run.
Vince Vannelle entered the game for Arizona in the bottom of the eighth and picked up two strikeouts to punctuate a scoreless frame and keep the momentum in the Wildcats dugout.
Arizona made magic again in the ninth to take the lead. Kyson Donahue drew a hit by pitch with one out to kick start the rally before moving to second on a ground out.
Nik McClaughry, the walk-off hero in Arizona's series opener against Washington last weekend, faced a 1-1 count when he dropped an RBI single to right center to push the go-ahead run in.
Vannelle remained in the game for the Cats in the ninth and worked around a leadoff single to slam the door shut on the Beavers. He struck out Joe Casey swinging to end the game and lock down the series victory.
The Wildcats bullpen was again stout, with five pitchers combining to hold the Beavers to just two runs while striking out 14. Quinn Flanagan, Gil Luna, and Vince Vannelle all posted scoreless efforts to keep Arizona within striking distance for the offense.
Postgame, the Wildcats remained in right field at Goss Stadium to watch the extra-innings finish to Stanford/Oregon that clinched their conference championship.
- CF Donta Williams: 4-for-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI
- SS Nik McClaughry: 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI
- 2B Kobe Kato: 1-for-4, RBI
- LF Tyler Casagrande: 2-for-3, R
- RF Ryan Holgate: 2-for-4, 2B
- PH Chase Davis: 1-for-1, R
- RHP Chandler Murphy: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K
- RHP Quinn Flanagan: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K
- LHP Gil Luna: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 K
- RHP Vince Vannelle: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, Win (4-2)
Number of the Day
- Arizona has posted a winning record in Pac-12 play in 4-of-5 seasons under head coach Jay Johnson.
Photo of the Day
Tweet of the Day
— ?? Pac-12 Champions ?? (@ArizonaBaseball) May 23, 2021
The Pac-12 Champion Wildcats return home for a three-game series against Dixie State to close out the regular season. Game one on Thursday, May 27 is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. MST.