Returning home did not cure what’s been ailing the Arizona Wildcats.
Arizona dropped its fourth straight game Tuesday night, falling to Grand Canyon 11-9 in front of an announced crowd of 2,551 at Hi Corbett Field.
The Wildcats (18-20) have lost six of their past seven and aren’t carrying much in the way of momentum entering this weekend’s series at No. 2 Stanford.
Arizona got swept at No. 4 Oregon State this past weekend — which wasn’t an unexpected outcome. Losing to GCU, which entered Tuesday with an RPI of 133, is another matter. UA coach Jay Johnson was particularly disappointed in his team's level of investment and engagement.
"Terrible. It was awful. It’s the most disappointed I’ve been in that element of it in four years," Johnson said.
"We didn’t play at a level of emotional (or) physical investment that it requires to be a good Division I baseball team. It’s the most disappointed I’ve been in my time as the coach here about the readiness of the team and the investment of the team."
The struggling UA pitching staff allowed seven-plus runs for the seventh time in eight games, the lone exception being Arizona’s 4-2 victory over Cal on April 14. The stretch began with a 14-13 win over Grand Canyon on April 9 that required a comeback from a five-run deficit in the eighth inning.
There were no such heroics Tuesday. The Wildcats cut the Antelopes’ lead to 10-8 with five runs in the bottom of the eighth. Arizona gave one back in the top of the ninth. The UA scored once and put the tying run on base in the bottom half. But Matthew Dyer, representing the winning run, grounded out to first to end the game.
The Wildcats managed only two runs in three-plus innings against GCU starter Brodie Cooper-Vassalakis, who entered the game with a 10.03 ERA and a 2.66 WHIP. Those runs came on Nick Quintana’s team-leading ninth home run of the season. Quintana went 2 for 5 with four RBIs.
UA starter Avery Weems allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings. Reliever Zach Sherman didn’t retire a batter before being lifted for Gil Luna, who yielded four runs in two frames.
Continuing a season-long trend, Arizona pitchers walked seven batters and hit four.
"You cannot continue to give 10-plus free bases to the opponent, with the people we play, and expect to be successful," Johnson said. "(Without) throwing strikes, it’s not gonna happen."