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ASU Softball: Gritty hitting gives California the walk-off win

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

The Arizona State pitching staff couldn’t hold off California as the Golden Bears win in walk-off fashion, 7-6.

The bats were alive early as both teams got on the board in the first inning. It started with No. 20/21 ASU when Taylor Becerra singled up the middle against Katie Sutherland-Finch. After advancing on a wild pitch Becerra was in scoring position with Chelsea Gonzales at the plate. Gonzales continued her hot hitting with another single up the middle, scoring Becerra.

California answered in the bottom of the inning. It started with back-to-back hits to lead off the inning. With one out, clean up hitter Annie Aldrete flew out to centerfield but Jazmyn Jackson was able to use her speed to tag up from third base and score. Through one full inning it was all tied up 1-1.

The runs kept on piling on and ASU scored two more in the second inning. Brynley Steele starting things off with a single and then Fa Leilua rocketed a homerun over the center field wall for her fifth long-ball of the season. Arizona State took the 3-1 advantage. The homerun was the way to score in the second inning and Cal’s Taylor Koenig went yard on a solo shot to left centerfield.

Pitcher Breanna Macha’s afternoon came to an end after a Jackson double in the bottom of the third. Kelsey Kessler came in to replace the sophomore and continued where she left off from Friday’s game.

The righty avoided a scare in the fifth inning with a clutch strikeout with one out and runners at the corners. Then she managed to get Aldrete to pop out to end the inning.

Stephanie Trzcinski entered the game in the circle for the Golden Bears and was the victim of a Jennifer Soria homerun. Soria was the star of Friday’s game where she hit two homeruns.

The Sun Devils still had more work to do in the inning as Nikki Girard doubled to centerfield, which enable Becerra to score from third base. That left Girard and Gonzales on base with only one out, but Trzcinski was able to get out of the jam without another run.

The game score remained 5-2 until the bottom of the sixth inning when Kobie Pettis took Kessler deep down the right field line. That cut the score to 5-3 ASU.

Entering the seventh inning the Sun Devils tacked on one more run with some small ball. All it would take is three outs for Kessler in the bottom half of the inning to close out the game.

Or so she thought.

It turned out not be that simple. Jackson led off the inning with her fourth hit of the game and her first homerun of the season. The final inning rally began as Kessler gave up another hit and a walk. At this point Kessler was removed from the game and it was Dale Ryndak’s job to get the save.

Ryndak couldn’t hold off the anxious Cal bats and gave up a single, which shortened their lead to one. With the bases loaded, Kobie Pettis came to the plate and knocked a double into right field, which scored two runs with ease and ended the game, 7-6.

The comeback win tied up the series with the rubber match coming up Sunday. You can catch the action at 2 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.

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