TUCSON - Johnny Field roped a hanging slider down the left field line to drive in Zach Gibbons with the game-winning run as 16th-ranked Arizona overcame a three-run deficit with four runs over the final two innings to defeat Columbia, 4-3, on a blustery Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.
Arizona (12-4) dug itself a 3-0 deficit and was shut out by the Lions' pitching for the first seven innings, before the bats came alive in the eighth. The Wildcats tied the game with a three-run eighth, then plated the winning run in the ninth on Field's single - Arizona's second walk-off victory of the season.
Brandon Dixon ignited the eighth-inning rally when he reached base on an error by shortstop Aaron Silbar. Dixon then stole second and advanced to third on Trent Gilbert's single. With runners at the corners, Kevin Newman lined his fourth single of the game into right-center to drive in Dixon and advance Gilbert to third.
The Lions replaced relief pitcher Adam Cline with Thomas Crespi, who gave up a sacrifice fly to left field to pinch-hitter Ryan Koziol that cut the margin to 3-2. Newman aggressively tagged up from first base and was able to get into scoring position on the play. After a groundout moved Newman to third, Scott Kingery pulled a two-out single past third baseman David Vandercook to tie the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Gibbons led off with a triple to right field. Crespi pitched around Riley Moore and a walk put runners at the corners with no outs. The Lions called on righty David Spinosa to face Field, but a hanging 1-1 slider was pulled down the left field line to drive in Gibbons.
Crespi (L, 0-1) suffered the loss after giving up the game winning run on two hits and a walk over one-plus innings on the mound.
The late rally spoiled an impressive starting performance by David Speer, who tossed six shutout innings and scattered eight hits while striking out six.
Arizona's Konner Wade turned in his longest outing of the season with eight steady innings. The righty did not factor into the decision after allowing three runs - one earned - on seven hits and two walks to go with three strikeouts.
Mathew Troupe (W, 1-0) earned the victory out of the bullpen by pitching a 1-2-3 top of the ninth. Troupe opened the frame with a strikeout, then induced a soft groundout and a pop up to send the Wildcats back to the plate with the momentum from the eight intact.
Columbia (0-5) took the initial lead with a run in the fifth. Logan Boyher, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, led off with a single and later scored on Mike Fischer's two-out triple to the left field corner.
The Lions tacked on two unearned runs in the seventh. Boyher singled to right field and Vandercrook drew a walk to put two on with no outs. Silbar then bounced a ball to Dixon at third base, but his throw skipped off the glove of Gilbert at second base and Boyher came in to score from second on the play.
A bunt by Fischer put runners at second and third with one out, before Jordan Serena drove in Vandercrook on a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 3-0.
Cline took the mound in the seventh and worked through the top of the Wildcats' lineup in order. Gibbons grounded out, Moore struck out swinging and Field fouled out. But Cline was unable to keep his momentum in the eighth, surrendering all three game-tying runs.
Arizona, which stranded 12 runners on base in a loss on Wednesday to Texas Tech, left nine runners on base over the first six innings. The Wildcats, though, delivered the key hits late in the game to earn the victory and finished the contest 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Lions were just 1-for-10 in RBI situations.
The two clubs continue the three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MST) at Hi Corbett Field.