SEATTLE – The Washington Baseball team capped an amazing opening weekend at brand new Husky Ballpark Sunday with an 8-0 shutout against Arizona to sweep the series and ensure themselves of at least a tie for first atop the Pac-12 standings.
Washington (16-5-1, 5-1) has now won six games in a row and 13 of 14 to remain in a first-place tie with Oregon and UCLA. It was Washington’s first sweep of Arizona (11-15, 1-5) since 2004.
“We didn’t play three perfect games, but we won them all,” said coach Lindsay Meggs, who is 11-games over .500 for the first time in five years at Washington.
“That’s the goal, so I’m happy for our guys.”
Husky starter Jeff Brigham (4-1) turned in another outstanding performance to earn the win. He allowed three hits in six innings, struck out four and walked just one batter. Brigham lowered his season ERA to 1.06 and has now allowed one or fewer runs in each of his six starts this season.
Brigham got plenty of offensive support behind him. The Huskies pounded out 10 hits, thanks largely to the bottom half of the order.
Washington jumped ahead of Arizona in the third inning when they strung together three-consecutive hits to take a 1-0 lead. No. 7 hitter Trevor Mitsui led off with a single and was followed by a single from Austin Rei to put runners on the corners. Erik Forgione laid down a perfect safety-squeeze bunt between the pitcher and first baseman that went for a hit and scored Mitsui from third.
The Huskies could have had more in the inning as they loaded the bases with one out, but Arizona starter Austin Schnabel was able to wiggle out of the jam without allowing further damage.
Washington would hang two more runs on the board in the fourth, and again the bottom of the lineup provided most of the damage. With runners on the corners and two outs, No. 9 hitter Erik Forgione delivered a clutch double to left field that scored Brian Wolfe from third base and Rei all the way from first to make it 3-0.
In the fifth inning, Washington broke the game open sending nine batters to the plate and putting up a five-spot on the board to make it 8-0.
Ely led things off with a double off the top of the wall in right center field and Robert Pehl followed with a single to put runners on the corner. Alex Schmidt walked to load the bases for Branden Berry, who drove the ball over the left fielder’s head for a two-run double.
The next hitter Wolfe capped the scoring in the inning by depositing a pitch from reliever Xavier Borde over the right field fence for a three-run homer. It was his second long ball of the year and the first-ever home run at newly renovated Husky Ballpark.
“He threw a hanging curve ball inside, which is the pitch I was looking for,” said Wolfe, who also did damage with his glove by making a diving catch in the first inning.
“I put a decent swing on it and hit it over the short porch.”
Wolfe’s blast capped the scoring for the Huskies, but was plenty for a UW bullpen which has a 1.53 ERA during the Huskies’ 13-1 stretch.
Forgione, Wolfe and Robert Pehl had two hits apiece to pace the Huskies. Forgione and Wolfe had 3 RBIs each.
Washington plays again on Tuesday, hosting Gonzaga at 5:00 p.m. at Husky Ballpark, before heading on the road to play three games against USC, March 28-30.
NOTES: The Huskies pitching staff has a 2.23 ERA over their last 14 games. The bullpen has a 1.53 ERA during that same stretch ... Catcher Austin Rei is leading Washington in Pac-12 play with a .421 average (8-for-19). He has 2 doubles, a triple, scored 4 runs and 5 RBIs in league play. He also threw out both runners that tried to steal on him during the Arizona series ... The Huskies are off to their best conference start since 2003 when UW won its first six games to start Pac-10 play.
Washington 8, Arizona 0
ARIZ 000 000 000 –- 0 5 0
WASH 001 250 00x –- 8 10 1
Jeff Brigham, Will Ballowe (7), Alex Nesbitt (9) and Austin Rei, Parker Guinn (8). Austin Schnabel, Xavier Borde (5), Tyler Parmenter (5), Bobby Dalbec (8) and Riley Moore. W – Brigham (4-0). L – Schnabel (0-3). Sv – none. HR – Brian Wolfe (2). 3B – none. 2B – AZ, Trent Gilbert, Zach Gibbons; UW, Erik Forgione, Andrew Ely, Branden Berry. Time – 2:59. Attendance – 1,774.