BERKELEY, Calif. – No. 13 Arizona handed No. 1 California its first conference loss of the season and second overall loss as the Cats beat the Bears 8-3 behind Shelby Babcock’s three-hit complete game.
Arizona (29-11, 8-6 Pac-12) notched 13 hits against Golden Bear pitchers Valerie Arioto and Jolene Henderson, who each entered Saturday’s contest with sub-1.2 ERAs. The game marked the first time a team had recorded double-digit hits against California (38-2, 10-1) all season. Entering the series, California had been outhit only three times all season, although Arizona has now done it twice in the first two contests of the series.
Arizona pitchers have allowed five total hits in the two games. Prior to the series, California’s season low in hits for one game was four in a win against Washington on March 30. Arizona’s 13 hits were its most since a 16-hit outing against San Jose State on March 19, 2011.
Cal had won 15 consecutive games entering the contest including all 11 of its Pac-12 contests. Arizona also gave the Bears their first home loss (7-1) and pitcher Arioto her first loss of the season (17-1).
Babcock (15-7) allowed three runs on three hits in her complete-game effort. The sophomore struck out six and walked four.
The Wildcats touched up California’s pitching duo for eight runs, the most runs surrendered by California all season. Tennessee’s five runs in the first game of the season in a Cal 13-5 win on Feb. 10 were previously the most runs allowed.
Arioto, California’s starter, allowed four runs with three earned on eight hits in 5.1 innings pitched before being relieved by Henderson. Arioto had six strikeouts and two walks in the outing. Henderson pitched the final 1.2 innings and allowed four runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
Arizona’s five-run sixth inning proved to be the difference. Shelby Pendley had a bases-loaded, three RBI double in the frame.
Chelsea Goodacre and Karissa Buchanan each had as many hits (3) in the game as California’s entire team.
Hallie Wilson (2), Pendley (3), Jessica Spigner (1) and Buchanan (1) all batted in runs.
The Wildcats got on the board in the second, scoring their first run of the series against Cal. Lini Koria drew a leadoff walk, Goodacre singled and Buchanan singled through the left side to plate Koria from third.
The Cats added to the lead in the third. Brigette Del Ponte singled down the left-field line, Koria drew another walk and Spigner singled up the middle to give UA a 2-0 lead.
That lead, however, would be erased in the fourth. Babcock retired 10 of the first 12 batters she faced, including the first two of the fourth inning. She issued a two-out walk to Jace Williams and Breana Kostreba homered to left to tie the game at 2-2.
The tie remained until the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth, Goodacre singled to second and was replaced on the base-paths by Sam Davis. Arriola sacrificed Davis to second. Buchanan’s second hit of the game put runners on the corners with one out and chase Arioto in favor of Henderson.
Wilson singled through the left side to give Arizona a 3-2 lead. Chelsea Suitos walked to load the bases with one out for Del Ponte. She grounded to second baseman Williams who booted the ball to allow another Wildcat run to score. Ahead 4-2, Pendley, batting in the cleanup spot for the first time all season, doubled the bases clear to give Arizona a 7-2 lead.
The Cats added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Wilson singled home Arriola to take an 8-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Cal used a walk, HBP and Frani Echavarria RBI single to score its third run of the game. Babcock then got Jamia Reid to groundout to second to end the game.