(Photo: Alli Cline/WCSN)
In their first game back at Farrington Stadium in over a month, (27-16, 5-7) Arizona State experienced a seventh inning collapse that allowed (24-15, 5-11) Oregon State to take a 7-6 win to open the weekend series.
Following what was a tough and lengthy road trip for Arizona State over the last few weeks, during which they went 2-4 against top conference talent Arizona and Oregon, the Sun Devils returned home hoping to rebound with a victory over Oregon State.
With just a one-run lead in the seventh, Craig Nicholson called upon Dale Ryndak to close out the narrow game after Breanna Macha had navigated her way through a less than stellar outing.
But Dani Gilmore of Oregon State had other plans.
The senior, and team-leading hitter took a Ryndak fastball just inside of the left field foul pole and over Elizabeth Caporuscio’s glove, giving Oregon State a 7-6 lead in the final inning of play, and eventually the win.
“We did enough to have a 6-4 lead after five innings,” Coach Nicholson said afterwards. “We have to close that out, we have to finish.”
As mentioned earlier, it wasn’t the prettiest start for Macha. But Her six inning, five-run, six-hit performance nearly got the job done on a night when her offense seemed to respond to every deficit she allowed.
Beverly Miller started on the rubber in this one for the Beavers. But the junior wouldn’t be there long, as she got through just one scoreless inning before exiting the game.
Miller’s replacement, Taylor Cotton, put together a solid showing under the strange circumstances. Tossing four and a third innings while giving up five runs on six hits and seven walks.
Oregon State opened up the scoring in the top of the third when Mikela Manewa crushed a line drive that bounced off the top of the right field wall.
The 202-foot single brought in the first run of the game and kicked off what would be a four-run inning for the Beavers after Dani Gilmore and Sammi Noland knocked in three more.
The Sun Devils would answer with authority in the bottom half of the frame. Tying up the ball game courtesy of a solo shot from Sierra Rodriguez, and a three-run tater off the bat of Amber Freeman.
Freeman’s homer was the 53rd of her Sun Devil career, putting her just seven behind Cheyenne Coyle for the 3rd most home runs in program history.
And the senior knows exactly what the Sun Devils need to improve on to get out of this funk.
“Everything,” Freeman said. “Pitching needs to be better, hitting needs to be better, base running, defense, everything needs to be better.”
Bethany Kemp would add another homerun in the fifth to give Arizona State their first lead of the night a 6-4.
The Beavers looked to answer the comeback call in the top of the sixth with a CJ Chirichigno homer that cut the lead to just one run. Then Gimore’s two-run dagger in the seventh would put the Sun Devils away for good and pit the loss on Ryndak.
Arizona State had a chance with two outs and Haley Steele on third and Nikki Girard at the plate, but the second baseman would ground out to third on a 3-2 pitch to hand ASU their fourth loss in a row at the hands of a team hailing from Oregon.
“Everyone just needs to come back and clear their minds so we can have a better day tomorrow.” Freeman said.
The series will continue tomorrow at 7 p.m., followed by a matinee matchup at noon on Sunday.