With four runs on four hits, Utah had led Arizona State 4-1, but the No. 22 Sun Devils came back with a big fifth inning to win 6-4 Friday in Tempe and improve to 30-16 and 8-7 in the Pacific-12. For the game, ASU outhit Utah (31-16, 9-10) 14-4, despite trailing most of the night and allowing three early home runs.
“We’re not going to panic, we’re just going to keep doing what we do,” ASU coach Craig Nicholson said. “Tonight, we hit singles, they hit the home runs, I kind of envisioned it being the opposite coming into this series (ASU leads 166-104 on the year), but credit our offense for scoring six runs without hitting the ball out of the park.”
Kate Dickman (.426 batting average) began the scoring for Utah with a solo home run in the top of the first off centerfielder Abby Spiel’s mitt. Breanna Macha did strike out the other three Ute batters, however. ASU third baseman Haley Steele drove in Elizabeth Caporuscio with a blooper to short to tie the game at 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the first, but Amber Freeman was thrown out at home after a Bethany Kemp single.
Hannah Flippen knocked a two-run home run out of the park in the top of the third to put Utah ahead 3-1. The sophomore second baseman was named Pac-12 Player of the Week Monday for the second time this month after batting .625 in a 2-1 series win over Arizona, and she is hitting .374 for the year and is tied with the Dickman for the team home run lead with seven.
Utah struck again in the top of the fourth, as sophomore designated player Bridget Castro sent the first pitch she saw over the fence for the 4-1 advantage.
With two on and no outs in the bottom of the fourth, Utah replaced freshman Miranda Viramontes on the mound with senior Mariah Ramirez, and Caporuscio drove home Nikki Girard, before Steele popped out with the bases loaded.
“We were hitting pretty well, just not scoring runs,” Caporuscio said. “We made our adjustments and can’t worry about what the other team does, we play ASU softball.”
The Sun Devils scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to find the lead. After Sierra Rodriguez scored Kemp, Caporuscio tied the game at 4-4, leading Breona Peralta home. New pitcher Sammy Cordova entered, and Chelsea Gonzales doubled for a 6-4 lead.
“My second at-bat I didn’t do so well, so it felt good,” Gonzales said about giving her team the edge. “I was just looking for a good pitch to drive in the runners. We’re not trying to hit home runs, just get runners on base.”
The freshman Macha ended a complete game with six strikeouts and improved to 14-8, while Ramirez (3-2) suffered the loss for Utah.
“I had to settle in with my team behind me after the fourth inning, it’s a confidence booster,” Macha said. “It’s easy to get down, but you have to have that short-term memory as a pitcher.”
The same two teams will meet again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday from Farrington Stadium.