TUCSON, Ariz. ?- On a blustery day that saw gusts of up to 40 mile per hour winds, an RBI infield double underscored the tone of a 5-2 Arizona victory over California on Sunday afternoon.
For the second consecutive day, the fourth-ranked Wildcats came back from an early deficit to defeat the Golden Bears, giving UA its third win of the weekend and sixth straight in Pac-10 play. The victory gives Arizona a 31-8 overall record and a conference-leading 7-1 mark in the Pac-10. Meanwhile, Cal drops to 25-23 overall and 2-7 in Pac-10 contests.
Arizona freshman pitcher Sarah Akamine (8-1) became the first Wildcat not named Taryne Mowatt to throw a pitch in a Pac-10 contest this year, as she got the starting nod for the first time since a March 24 victory over New Mexico. The young pitcher did not disappoint, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings of work. Akamine struck out five Golden Bear batters and did not allow a walk, before giving way to Mowatt to start the sixth inning. From there, Mowatt allowed one base runner and struck out four in two innings of work to earn her third save of the season.
Cal starter Marissa Drewrey lasted three-plus innings, before turning the ball over to eventual loser Brittany LaRosa (4-8). LaRosa allowed a pair of runners she inherited from Drewrey to score and would allow two additional runs of her own accord to score in one-plus innings.
In the top of the fourth, Cal first baseman Christina Schallig broke the game’s scoreless tie with a solo home run down the left field line ?- her fourth home run of the year.
Arizona responded in its half of the fourth with three runs on three hits and two Cal errors. Callista Balko started the rally with a walk and Laine Roth followed with a single to left. The early signs of a rally prompted Cal head coach Diane Ninemire to bring LaRosa into the circle to relieve Drewrey.
With a new arm in the circle, Sam Banister then laid down her second successful sacrifice bunt of the afternoon, moving the runners to second and third. During K’Lee Arredondo’s at-bat, the freshman got new life when Cal catcher Julie Meyer dropped a foul pop up just beyond the batter’s box. Arredondo took advantage of the newfound-life at the plate by hitting a sharp line drive at Cal second baseman Vernae Sevilla to load the bases with an infield single. Next, Adrienne Acton drove in UA’s first run of the game with another infield single, keeping the bases loaded for Caitlin Lowe.
Lowe hit a high pop up to second base, just beyond the infield dirt. Sevilla dropped the pop up and scurried to retire Acton en route to second, but not before Roth came across the plate to tie the game. With the Cal infielders standing around, Lowe took off for second and drew just enough attention for Arredondo to scamper home with a swiped base of her own.
Cal cut into UA’s 4-1 lead with another solo home run, this one by Alex Sutton, but Arizona would get the run back in the sixth. Once again, it was Lowe making things happen for UA. She started things off with a one-out single and got to second with her second steal of the game. After Chelsie Mesa walked, Kristie Fox flied out. Then, Jenae Leles hit a towering pop up between the circle and the third baseline, which no Cal infielder was able to get a glove on. However with two outs, both Wildcat runners were running on contact, allowing Lowe to score and Mesa to advance to third on Leles unusual double.
Arizona had 10 hits and one error to Cal’s six hits and two errors.
- Junior outfielder Cyndi Duran, who pinch ran in the fifth, saw her first action since Feb. 24 against Texas A&M. The Tucsonan had suffered an injury to her left hand during an exhibition game on Feb. 28.
- Caitlin Lowe extended her team-leading hitting streak to eight games.
- Caitlin Lowe stole her 143rd career base on Sunday, leaving her five stolen bases shy of Alison McCutcheon’s school record of 148 steals.
- Arizona extended its home winning streak to 14 games and improved to 20-1 on the year at Hillenbrand Stadium.
- Eight of UA’s nine starters got a hit. The only one who did not reach base with a hit was Sam Banister, who executed two successful sacrifice bunts.
Up Next: Arizona heads to Tempe for a mid-week contest against in-state rival Arizona State on Wednesday at Farrington Stadium, beginning at 7 p.m. Next weekend, UA will host the Oregon schools at Hillenbrand Stadium.