Riley Moore woke up at 6 a.m. Saturday choking, his throat swollen so badly that, the Arizona Wildcats catcher said, "I had a hard time swallowing my own spit."
One trip to the hospital, two bags of IV fluid and nine innings later, Moore could finally breathe, swallow - and smile.
Arizona defeated 10th-ranked Oregon 12-6 Saturday night at Hi Corbett Field, setting up the most important regular-season game in a decade. The two teams will play today for both the series and the Pac-12 Conference lead; the Ducks (33-14, 15-8 Pac-12) enter the finale with a half-game edge.
Thanks to Moore, 11th-ranked Arizona (30-14, 13-7) has a chance. Hitting with the bases loaded and none out in the second inning, Moore - who didn't take batting practice Saturday because of his hospital trip - put together the most impressive at-bat of the night. He battled Oregon starter Jake Reed for 10 pitches before rocketing the 11th through the right side for a two-run single.
Moore's hit tied the game 3-3, and sparked a six-run second inning that gave the Wildcats the breathing room they so needed.
"It was a big point in the game - bases-loaded, nobody out," Moore said. "I put just enough (bat) on it to get it out there."
Moore had been taking lozenges and gargling with saltwater all week to combat a swollen left tonsil. He went to bed Friday night feeling good, he said, but woke up to a medical nightmare. Moore visited UA trainer Leanna Olivar at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and was referred to a doctor, who sent him to Kino Hospital. He arrived at the park just in time to eat, warm up and play.
Moore wasn't the only Wildcat to hit well Saturday.
Eight of the nine starters registered a hit, and six of them had RBIs. Johnny Field blasted a home run and finished with a team-high three RBIs, and both Moore and Trent Gilbert drove in a pair of runs.
The big night at the plate gave the Wildcats some much-needed confidence at the perfect time.
"We're third in the nation in offense for a reason. We know we can do this," Moore said. "There are little reminders that, 'Oh, OK, we are Arizona. We can do this.' "
Still, Saturday's game belonged to a pitcher. UA reliever Tyler Crawford pitched 4 1/3 stellar innings in relief of an ineffective Konner Wade, earning his first career win. The freshman left-hander held Oregon hitless from the fifth inning until, with one out in the ninth, the Ducks managed back-to-back singles. Stephen Manthei got the final two outs.
Crawford, a long reliever who occasionally starts midweek games, may have carved himself out a larger role. The Wildcats' bullpen has been ineffective for most of the Pac-12 season; Saturday's performance was the second bad one in a row for Arizona's starting pitchers.
"The whole game was on Tyler Crawford, and he did a marvelous job," UA coach Andy Lopez said. "He was a difference-maker for us tonight."
Crawford called it "a great confidence builder."
The Wildcats needed it. Today's game could determine the rest of their season.
"It's a good matchup. They're a great team," Crawford said. "It's big-on-big."
• What: Oregon at Arizona at Hi Corbett Field on 1290-AM
• Friday: Oregon 6, Arizona 1
• Saturday: Arizona 12, Oregon 6
• Today: Noon