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Arizona baseball rallies from down 4 to force extras, walks off North Dakota State in 12

The scoreboard says Arizona beat North Dakota State in 12 innings because it scored more runs than then opponent. But truth be told, the Wildcats won because their defense prevented the Bison from scoring more than they did.

The Wildcats threw out two NDSU runners on the base paths, including the potential go-ahead run at home in the top of the 11th, while also recording a double play and playing error-free ball for the fifth time in 10 games in a 7-6 extra-inning win on Saturday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.

“Unbelievable defense,” said UA coach Chip Hale, who was a second baseman for the Wildcats in the mid-1980s as well as in the pros. “We preach it, you win games in many ways.”

Arizona (7-3) won its fourth straight, its first in three tries on Saturday, after trailing by four going into the bottom of the seventh. The Wildcats tied the game at 6 that frame thanks to three walks, an infield single, a sacrifice fly and then a 2-out, 2-run double from Cameron LaLiberte.

LaLiberte was 4 for 6 with three infield singles, including a bunt in the bottom of the 12th that was intended to be a sacrifice but was placed perfectly up the third base line.

“Coach (Dave) Lawn and Chip have talked to me saying I need to use my speed,” said LaLiberte, who said he collected seven or eight bunt hits playing in the Appalachian summer wood bat league.

LaLiberte’s hit moved Kiko Romero to third after Romero led off the 12th with a bloop double that fell between NDSU’s left fielder, shortstop and third baseman. Romero also hit his first home run with Arizona in the 4th, a 439-shot off the batter’s eye in center that put the Wildcats up 2-1 at the time.

Garen Caulfield followed LaLiberte with a first pitch fly ball to right, deep enough for Romero to score on a walk-off sacrifice fly.

“I was just trying to keep it off the ground, and I was just trying to get something done early in the count,” Caulfield said. “I knew he had to come at me, and fortunately I was able to get something in the air.”

Source: azdesertswarm