SEATTLE – Sophomore catcher Austin Rei drove in four runs, including two in the deciding sixth inning, as Washington overcame two deficits to beat Arizona, 8-7, in the first game at new Husky Ballpark Friday night.
A gathering of 1,302 fans that included numerous Husky Baseball alums from all decades were treated to a back-and-forth game that saw Washington overcome deficits of 4-0 and 7-5. The win was Washington’s fourth-straight and 11th in 12 games.
Arizona (11-13, 1-3) greeted Huskies’ starter Jared Fisher rudely in the first and scored four runs on six hits in a 23 minute inning before the Huskies (14-5-1, 3-1) even took their first swings.
Lead-off hitter Scott Kingery collected the first hit at the Huskies’ new home with a double to left. The next batter Cody Ramer popped up to the infield, but Huskies’ shortstop Erik Forgione ran into Kingery standing at second base and the ball fell harmlessly to the brand-new turf for a hit.
Kevin Newman made the Huskies pay with a single while the runners were moving to score the first run of the game. Trent Gilbert followed with a run-scoring double and Zach Gibbons made it 3-0 with an infield single to first in which Fisher forgot to cover the base.
Arizona got its final run of the inning when No. 6 hitter Riley Moore hit a sacrifice fly to center, which was also the first out of the inning.
“The first inning for us was about as ugly as it can get,” said Husky coach Lindsay Meggs. “We were kind of caught up in (the hoopla) in the first, but we got through that and survived it.
“We took a deep breath and did our thing… I’ll give them credit because they came off the mat and came back.”
Washington stormed back in the second inning when they sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs to take the 5-4 lead.
Brendan Berry got things going with a one-out single, Alex Schmidt followed with a hit and Trevor Mitsui walked to load the bases. Rei drove in the first two runs at the new ballpark for the Huskies with a bloop-single that kicked up black rubber pellets on the right-field line.
Andrew Ely capped the scoring for the Huskies in the inning with a two-run triple to the right-center gap.
Arizona retook the lead in the fourth with three runs and chased Fisher from the game. After Fisher got the first out, he gave up three-consecutive singles to load the bases. Kingery walked to force in a run and tie the score. Ramer followed with a double into the gap that scored two runners.
It would have been worse but the Huskies had a beautiful relay throw from second baseman Ely that Rei caught and reached behind his contorted body to tag Kingery.
The Huskies cut the deficit to 7-6 in the fifth inning thanks to the legs of Bishop. The speedy center fielder led off with an infield single, advanced to second on a ground out, stole third and scored on a wild pitch.
An inning later, Washington scored two more runs to take the lead for good. Berry led off the inning with a double, Schmidt walked and Rei drove both of them in with a double down the left field line.
Once again, the Huskies’ bullpen was outstanding. Four pitchers combined to throw five innings of shutout ball, allowing just two harmless hits and striking out six batters.
Brandon Choate (1-0) threw 2 and 1/3 innings following Fisher to earn his first career win. He did not allow a hit and struck out three.
Troy Rallings came into the game in the ninth and closed out the Wildcats for his second save.
Cody Moffett (1-1) walked the one batter he faced and took the loss for Arizona.
The win was more than just the 15th of the season, for the Huskies. According to Rei it serves as a reminder of where this program has come from.
“To the upper classmen, it means a lot more to them,” said the sophomore. “They remember the old locker room, the cold walk down (to the field).
"I was fortunate enough to have the locker room here last year, but it’s still unreal, and absolutely unbelievable what they were able to do. We’re just making the most of every moment.”
Washington and Arizona continue the series Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Huskies’ junior Tyler Davis (3-1, 1.38) will face Wildcats’ righty Cody Hamlin (3-1, 2.15).
Washington 8, Arizona 7
ARIZ 400 300 000 –- 7 13 1
WASH 050 012 00x –- 8 9 0
Jared Fisher, Brandon Choate (4), Trevor Dunlap (7), Will Ballowe (8) and Austin Rei. James Farris, Cody Moffett (6), Tyler Parmenter (6) and Riley Moore. W – Choate (1-0). L – Moffett (1-1). Sv – Rallings (2). HR – none. 3B – UW, Andrew Ely. 2B – AZ, Scott Kingery, Trent Gilbert, Cody Ramer. UW, Branden Berry, Austin Rei. Time – 3:05. Attendance – 1,302.