Michigan hits two solo homers in seventh inning to down Arizona State
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Senior Lyndsay Doyle found the center-field wall with her left hand and reached up over the fence with her glove hand to bring back Amber Freeman's fly ball for the third out of the seventh inning and preserve Michigan's come-from-behind win against Arizona State, 5-4, on Sunday in the regional final held at Farrington Stadium. U-M won the first game of the day 4-3 to force the all-or-nothing second game.
Michigan will advance in the NCAA tournament to play Florida State, the champion of the Tallahassee Region. U-M has now won 16 regional titles and advanced to the super regionals for ninth time in 10 years the format has been held.
Doyle's leap in center capped a dramatic turn-of-events in the game's final inning. Michigan entered the top of the seventh inning trailing 4-3. Down to their final two outs, the Wolverines blasted two home runs to take the lead and win the game. First was sophomore Sierra Lawrence's second solo shot of the game that tied the game 4-4.
Senior Taylor Hasselbach swung at the very next pitch and drove it well over the right center wall for the game-winning run. Hasselbach entered the at-bat 1-for-10 in the tournament but found her power stroke in the most important moment of the weekend.
Junior Haylie Wagner shut the Sun Devils down in the seventh -- with an assist from Doyle -- and the Wolverines were Super Regional bound.
The Wolverines started the scoring in the first with two consecutive bases-loaded walks off Arizona State starter Dallas Escobedo. ASU got one back in its half of the first on a U-M error.
In the third, two Arizona State home runs gave the Sun Devils a 4-2 edge. Lawrence hit her first homer of the game in the fifth, cutting the lead to 4-3, setting up the decisive seventh inning.
The Wolverines outhit the Sun Devils 12-6, including Lawrence's pair, three from senior Nicole Sappingfield and two from Doyle.
Wagner went the distance for the Maize and Blue, picking up her second win of the day. She held the Sun Devils to six hits and four runs. She locked up the ASU offense in the final three innings, giving up just one hit, a single in the seventh.
For the day, Wagner tossed 13.2 innings and gave up 10 hits. She earned both wins, improving her record to 24-4.
In game one, a quartet of home runs provided all the scoring. For the Wolverines, a pair of two-run shots trumped a two-run homer and solo longball for the Sun Devils to force the second game.
Michigan fell behind just two batters into the game. Cheyenne Coyle hit an offering from freshman Megan Betsa out of the park following a leadoff walk.
Betsa lasted only two more batters, getting one out. She was relieved by Wagner, who put the brakes on any ASU designs of a first-inning eruption.
In home half of the first, sophomore Sierra Romero got both runs back with a two-run blast of her own. Her towering fly ball just kept carrying and landed safely beyond the outstretched glove of ASU left fielder Elizabeth Caporuscio.
With two outs in the third, Romero worked a walk off Escobedo following an eight-pitch battle. Senior Caitlin Blanchard jumped on the next pitch, crushing a two-run homer to right center and putting the Wolverines up for good.
Wagner was terrific in relief, scattering four hits in 6.2 innings of work. She retired 10 of 11 from the top of the second through the fifth. The only blemish was a Chelsea Gonzales solo homer leading off the fourth.
But she held the Sun Devils scoreless in the final three innings and forced the day's second game.