The stage was set for the Arizona Wildcats to continue their turnaround.
Hi Corbett Field was jamming under a picturesque sunset in right field with the nation’s best in 2012 in one dugout and the top dogs from 2013 in the other.
Winners of three straight and some newfound momentum, it was the perfect setting for the Wildcats to keep the good times rolling.
Instead, the Wildcats did something that’s become commonplace for 2014 — they laid an egg.
The defending national champions, UCLA, rolled Arizona 8-0 to take the opener of a three-game set in front of 3,406 fans. The UA has now been outscored 26-5 in its last three series openers and fell to 15-20 on the season.
“We did not swing it well at all,” said Andy Lopez, who blamed the loss on bad coaching. “I was disappointed with our approach at the plate tonight. Their guy threw a great ballgame, and I don’t want to take anything away from him, but we did not have competitive at-bats.”
The Wildcats were coming off a come-from-behind 10-9 win over Arizona State on Wednesday night and a pair of victories at Utah. That prompted coach Andy Lopez to say this week he was starting to see some things he liked from his club.
They were all absent on Friday.
The Wildcats were 1 for 16 with runners on base, 3 for 11 with two outs and mustered just four hits total against UCLA ace James Kaprielian.
Arizona’s Friday night starter, James Farris, traded zeroes with Kaprielian for the first two innings but then gave up a run in the third when UCLA’s Brian Carroll connected on a two-out RBI double to score Chris Keck and make it 1-0.
After the Wildcats went hitless in the bottom of the inning, UCLA went back to work on Farris. The first three batters in the inning, Shane Zeile, Ty Moore and Kevin Williams, all reached on hits. Zeile doubled followed by singles from Moore and Williams. Williams’ hit went for an RBI.
Farris then retired the next two batters, but surrendered a two-out, two-run double to eighth-place hitter Trent Chatterton on an 0-2 count to make it 4-0.
The Bruins (19-13, 7-3 Pac-12) added another run in the sixth on another two-out double from Carroll and two more in the seventh off RBIs from Keck and Chatterton.
While Arizona struggled with two outs and runners on base, UCLA thrived.
The Bruins went 9 for 17 with two outs and 9 for 24 with runners on base.
Carroll, Zeile, Moore, Chatterton and Pat Gallagher all had multiple hit games in the win.
Conversely, Bobby Dalbec was the only player with multiple hits for the Wildcats, going 2 for 4 with a double.
The Wildcats, shut out for the third time in their last 10 games, didn’t do much to help Farris. The senior went six innings and gave up five runs on 10 hits and struck out seven.
Tyler Crawford, the first reliever out of the bullpen, gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
The UA will look to even the series tonight at 7:30. Right-hander Cody Hamlin (4-2, 2.31 ERA) will start for the Wildcats. He’ll be opposed by lefty Grant Watson (4-3, 2.91).
The game will be televised on ESPNU.