Photo: Michael Baron/WCSN
The Sun Devils powered through a 9-8 walk-off win in their first game of their series with the Utah Utes. This win was not only significant in that ASU pulled off a victory in its first game against the second place team in the Pac-12, but that it was truly a team effort.
“Everyone can contribute. If you look at our lineup tonight, we used everybody except some of our pitchers available today. Pinch running and pinch hitting- we’re not afraid to do that, “Head Coach Trisha Ford said.
The game initially was a battle between pitchers as ASU junior Breana Macha and Utah junior Miranda Viramontes kept the game scoreless until the third inning.
“Once we started swinging the bats a little better, we had a plan. I was a little worried, but I didn’t think for one second that we couldn’t get this game,” Dale Ryndak said.
The Utes tipped the offensive balance in their favor to start the third inning as an error by ASU second baseman Marissa Stankiewicz enabled the Utes to get two runners on base.
Then, Utah senior Hannah Flippen sent both of her teammates home with a double that grazed the wall in right field. Flippen is first in the Pac-12 with a .436 batting average.
The 2-0 deficit was widened to 4-0 after the Utes’ senior Anissa Urtez got a homerun and sent herself and Flippen to home plate.
“I think we contained our composure the whole way through,” Sashel Palacios said. “When they went up 3-0, or they went up even more, we were confident. We knew we had to be gritty through the whole game because they’re a good ball club, but we can hang with them.”
The Sun Devils responded in the bottom of the third as sophomore Taylor Becerra first got a base hit, but managed to get to second off of an error by the Utes first baseman Bridget Castro.
Sophomore Skylar McCarty followed suit with another hit as did seniors Sashel Palacios and Chelsea Gonzales. This enabled Becerra and McCarty to score and cut the Utes lead in half, 4-2.
“Both of our errors cost runs,” Ford said. “We were fortunate they made some errors as well and we took advantage of it. Both teams took advantage of those defensive miscues. We just happened to take advantage of it a little more because we got to hit last.”
ASU junior Dale Ryndak relieved Breana Macha to start the fourth inning, and the game stagnated until Utah revived the scoring in the top of the sixth.
Utes sophomore Ally Dickman and freshman BreOnna Castaneda both scored to make it a 7-2 game. After Dickman’s hit, Ryndak gave up two straight walks.
“We need to take this series,” Ryndak said. “They just took it against Arizona and Arizona is leading the Pac. If we can take this against them this weekend, that’s going to set us up for such an incredible position next weekend with so much momentum.”
The top of the inning ended with a dive by Becerra to get the final out at third base and with that momentum, the Sun Devils fought back.
Sophomore and pinch hitter Breezy Wise graced her team with a home run that made the score 7-5 with no outs against ASU.
“There’s so many girls who could be starting on other teams. We have so much depth with pinch hitter after pinch hitter,” Ryndak said.
The best for last:
Utah freshman Kelly Martinez responded with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning, which made the score 8-5.
The Sun Devils stifled this quickly and moved on to keep their offense going.
“We play the best when we’re having fun, and when we’re loose and we’re loud and we’re having fun,” Palacios said. “I love being loud and I love being the person to start it off, but we all piggy-backed well off of each other in that last inning. We came together and that’s ASU softball.”
Becerra was first up to bat and managed a base hit up the middle. McCarty did the same and another error by the Utes sent Becerra home.
Palacios also got a base hit, and so did Stankiewicz off of an additional Utah error. McCarty scored to bring the Sun Devils within one run of tying the game. However, this did come at the price of one out that was shortly followed by another.
To enhance the pressure, sophomore Fa Leilua was intentionally walked and freshman Emily Ramelot came up to the plate.
“Before my at-bat, I was pretty defeated,” Ramelot said. “I had just gone 0 for 3 and honestly, I was going to do anything to help my team. If that was a base hit or if that was me walking, I was going to do that.”
Then, Ramelot powered the ball over the fence for the Sun Devils second home run of the night. The freshman produced the winning run for her team.
“Any given day, anyone can step up. Emma stepped up huge for us and she’s a freshman. The game doesn’t know age; the game doesn’t know what class you’re in,” Palacios said.
What’s to come:
Arizona State will take on the Utes in the second game of the series Saturday at 4 p.m.
“The momentum is on our side. That pushes us to the next games and this is our series. We’re one step ahead to winning this series,” Ramelot said.