(Photo: Alli Cline/WCSN)
On a rare gloomy day in Tempe, the rubber match of a tightly contested series Arizona States play was similar to the weather as they were shutout by Utah, 4-0.
Sunday’s game featured the same starters in the circle as Friday night. Breanna Macha would look for her second win of the series and Miranda Viramotes would look to rebound from her last start and pick up her 12th win of the year.
Both pitchers brought their best stuff, as runs were sparse through out the game. Utah posted its first run in the second inning on a single by Shelby Pacheco just over the head of second baseman Nikki Girard. Bridget Castro scored, and the Utes took the 1-0 lead.
Pitching continued to dominate from both sides for the next few innings. The Sun Devils had a chance to make something happen in the bottom of the fourth inning. ASU’s first two runners got on base to start the inning, and Katie Donavon replaced Viramotes in the circle.
The Sun Devils could not capitalize as Donavon got out of the jam with ease. The first batter she faced, Haley Steele popped out near third base. Chelsea Gonzales did not get back to second base in time and was picked off. After walking Bethany Kemp, Donavon struck Sashel Palacios out to end the inning.
“Our ability to hit in certain situations wasn’t very good,” Coach Craig Nicholson said, “We’ve got to continue to get better.”
The Utes were able to add to their lead the next inning when Kate Dickman launched her eighth home run of the season. Through five innings, Utah held the 2-0 lead.
Utah would strike again in the seventh inning to add to their cushion. With two runners on and two outs an unlikely hero came through for Utes. Normally Mariah Ramirez spends her time in the circle, but the pitcher was sent up to the plate to pinch hit. Ramirez delivered with a two RBI single into the left center field gap. 4-0 Utah.
ASU would have one more shot to have a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Palacios got them on the right track with a lead off single. It was the fourth leadoff hit of the game for the devils. However just like every other inning they could not capitalize.
Jennifer Soria picked up another hit in the inning but the pitching of Donavon was too much and she was able to retire the side with out giving up a run, ending the game with a final score 4-0.
The Devils were caught off guard all weekend by the pitching from Utah of which their lineup is not used to. This was only the second game so far this season that ASU was shut out.
“We haven’t seen this high quality of pitching for quite a while,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson may not have been happy about the offense in the game but he felt like his pitcher did her job.
“Macha made pitches when she needed to make pitches in big situations,” Nicholson said. “It’s good to see her compete at that high level.”
Now the Sun Devils are looking forward to the remainder of the season. This coming weekend against Stanford is very important and the team understands that.
“We have to get a sweep, it is very, very important that we get a sweep,” senior Amber Freeman said. “We have to make a statement as a team.”
The captain of the team knows better than anyone how important the next two weeks will be. There is sure to be a spark come Friday when the Sun Devils head to California to take on Stanford.