Bach keeps Arizona State alive
Senior tosses complete game as Sun Devils avoid elimination
TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State rapped out 10 hits, including four home runs, as the Sun Devils evened the best-of-three series with the Ragin’ Cajuns, claiming a 9-2 decision on Friday night at Farrington Stadium. The Sun Devil win forced the rubber game of the series with the winner advancing to the Women’s College World Series.
The Sun Devils (50-9) led from start to finish, scoring two runs in the top of the first and adding five more in the third before Louisiana-Lafayette could counter. Ashley Brignac was the starter for the Cajuns, giving up nine earned runs on 10 hits, striking out nine and walking six to drop to 23-4 on the year.
After the Cajuns knocked around Sun Devil ace Dallas Escobedo in the first two meetings of the year, ASU elected to go with Hillary Bach in the circle and the senior responded. Making just her second start in the last nine games, Bach bent but didn’t break, preventing the Cajuns from recording a big inning. She threw a complete game, giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits, walking two and struck out one to improve to 21-1 on the year.
The Cajuns had runners on base in each of the seven innings, recording eight hits and forcing three Arizona State errors, but stranded 10 runners on base in the contest.
The Sun Devils opened the scoring in the first when Amber Freeman hit a two-out home run just inside the foul pole in left, scoring Katelyn Boyd, to give ASU a 2-0 lead. Boyd had led off with a single to left on the first pitch of the game.
The Cajuns had a great opportunity to score in the first, putting runners at second and third with one out, but Matte Haack grounded out to third, forcing the runners to hold, and Brianna Cherry hit a grounder up the middle that appeared headed into centerfield but deflected off the glove of Bach right to Boyd at shortstop, who fielded the ball cleanly and threw out Cherry by half a step to end the inning.
The Sun Devils put five runs on the board in the top of the third. After leadoff walks to Boyd and Alix Johnson, Haley Steele doubled to right center to make it 4-0. One out later, Annie Lockwood blasted a two run homer to left, pushing the lead to 6-0. Sam Parlich ended the rally with a solo home run to right.
The Cajuns broke on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Cherry bounced a single over the head of third baseman Steele, scoring Katie Smith to cut the deficit to 7-1. Smith had led off the inning with a walk and went to third on a single by Haack.
Arizona State made it 8-1 in the top of the fourth when pinch hitter Nikole Afusia drew a bases loaded walk with two outs. The Cajuns avoided any more damage when Katie Smith made a diving catch on a line drive to left by Parlich to end the inning.
UL put its second run on the board in the fifth when Nerissa Myers led off with a double, went to third on a ground ball by Orgeron and scored on a grounder to third by Haack.
ASU closed out the scoring in the seventh when Parlich opened the frame with her second home run of the game, putting the Sun Devils ahead 9-2.