(Photo: Alli Cline/WCSN)
Lightning struck throughout the game, but it didn’t affect Arizona State’s play. If anything, it was a symbol of the team’s power as they took down the Cal Golden Bears 8-7.
The pitching matchup was an ace-vs.-ace matchup as Breanna Macha took the hill for ASU against Stephanie Trzcinski for the Bears. Trzcinski had a 10-1 record going into the game.
The first two innings flew by, in part thanks to solid pitching from both sides. However, in the bottom of the third inning, the Sun Devils were first to strike. The first two baserunners of the evening set the table for Chelsea Gonzalez, now in her new role as the three hitter, who lined a ball over the center field wall for a three-run home run to make it 3-0 ASU.
“I looked for a good first pitch, got it and was able to take advantage,” Gonzalez said.
California wouldn’t let that lead sit for long, as the very next inning the Bears answered with five hits, amounting to six runs in the inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Kobie Pettis pulled a fastball down the right field line for a two-RBI double. Then, after Kylie Reed reached first on a fielder’s choice, Breana Kostreba lined one to third base that struck off of Haley Steele’s glove and got into the outfield, scoring two more runs.
The Golden Bears weren’t done, and with two outs they tacked on two more runs with hits by Vanessa Alvarez and Britt Vonk respectively, making the score 6-3.
The run barrage continued in the bottom of the fourth when ASU’s Sierra Rodriguez blasted a homerun with two outs to cut Cal’s lead to two.
Coach Craig Nicholson kept Macha in the game for the fifth inning and was rewarded as she retired the side.
“My mentality was no walks,” Macha said. “I had to go after every batter like they were the last one.”
This gave the Sun Devil offense a chance to answer in the bottom half of the inning.
They did just that as senior Haley Steele sent a laser over the left field fence with Sashel Palacios on base, tying the game. Lightning struck in the distance as Steele rounded the bases, punctuating the Devils’ comeback as the scoreboard showed 6-6.
The inning was not over, and with two outs and Bethany Kemp on third base, Sierra Rodriguez dribbled a ball down the first base line and first baseman Kobie Pettis bobbled her tag. Rodriguez reached safely, and Kemp made it home, giving the Devils their first lead since the bottom of the third.
Macha continued to roll with a scoreless top of the sixth before ASU scored again in the bottom of the inning with a home run by Sashel Palacios to cushion the lead and make the score 8-6.
The first batter of the top of the seventh inning, Danielle Henderson, bombed a fastball into the night to give her squad a comeback chance. Coach Nicholson decided to make a change and bring in his other freshman star to close the game out. Dale Ryndak was able to do just that, picking up the save and giving ASU the 8-7 victory.
“We complement each other perfectly. We both have such a strong mentality, and we’ll come into the game at anytime,” Ryndak said of her pairing with Macha.
That pitching duo has been lethal all season and will look to keep it up the remainder of the weekend against Cal. The action continues at Farrington Stadium on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.