Homers send No. 21 Arizona State past No. 12 Cal in Pac-12 home opener
TEMPE, Ariz. – With a barrage of home runs, No. 21 Arizona State University took down No. 12 Cal, 8-7, on Friday night to win the first game in its Pac-12 home series opener.
Sierra Rodriguez, Chelsea Gonzales, Sashel Palacios and Haley Steele all had round trippers on the night. Palacios started off the game with a diving catch on a popped up bunt behind the plate, and finished the contest with solo home run in the bottom of the sixth for the insurance the Sun Devils (21-9, 2-1) needed to close the game out.
Coming into the game, Cal starting pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski had only given up five home runs over her 66.1 innings of work this season, and reliever Nisa Ontiveros hadn’t given up a single round tripper all year. The Devils managed to knock three home runs off Trzcinski and one more off Ontiveros, showing why they’re second in the conference in that category.
Breanna Macha got the start for the Sun Devils in the circle and picked up her tenth win of the season. The right-hander gave up three earned runs on nine hits over six-plus innings pitched. Dale Ryndak came in the game in the seventh, recording the final three outs to record her third save this year.
ASU got the scoring started in the third when Gonzales smoked a ball over the center field fence with two runners on for a three-run home run.
But the Bears (22-5, 1-4) came charging right back in the top of the fourth. On five hits, one walk, and aided by a Sun Devils error in the inning, Cal managed to put up six runs on the board to turn the tides and take a three-run lead of its own.
Down two after a solo home run off the bat of Rodriguez in the fourth, the Devils regained the lead with a three-run fifth. Steele homered to center field with a runner on to tie the game up at six, and later on in the inning Bethany Kemp scored on an error by Cal’s first baseman, giving ASU the lead.
In the sixth, Palacios stepped up to the plate with two outs and nobody on base, and delivered a clutch solo shot to center to go ahead by two, which would loom large for the remainder of the game.
Cal’s Danielle Henderson led the top of the seventh off with a home run off Macha to pull the Bears within one, forcing coach Craig Nicholson to call upon Dale Ryndak. The true freshman was able to record the final three outs of the game and close the door on the Bears.