OKLAHOMA CITY ?- Allyson Von Liechtenstein’s squib single to left field scored pinch runner Adrienne Acton in the bottom of the 12th inning to give Arizona a dramatic 3-2 win over second-seeded California in an elimination game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday.
The rally started when California pitcher Kelly Anderson walked Callista Balko, whom Acton ran for, and Crystal Farley. Von Liechtenstein, who started for the first time since May 22 against Oklahoma State, was the only Wildcat with a multi-hit game in the 12-inning affair.
UA pitcher Alicia Hollowell (31-8) went the distance, giving up one earned run on eight hits, while not allowing a walk in the game. Anderson (29-10) started the game for Cal, before being relieved in the second inning.
The extra-inning victory was Arizona’s first plus-seven inning game in postseason play since 2003, when the Wildcats lost to California in 12 innings. The victory also snaps a three-game postseason losing streak to the Golden Bears.
In the bottom half of the second inning, Arizona’s bats exploded for two home runs, breaking a streak of 10 scoreless innings for the Wildcats. Jackie Coburn led off the frame with a blast to right-center field, her 10th of the year. With the bomb, Coburn became the first Wildcat with double-digit homers this season. Two batters later, Callista Balko sent a ball over the outfield fencing for the fifth time this season. Balko’s home run knocked out Cal starter Kelly Anderson, bringing in Kristina Thorson.
The ball gets away from California catcher Haley Woods as Acton scores the winning run.
Teammates greet Callista Balko after her second-inning home run.
Thorson silenced the Arizona bats, hurling eight and a third scoreless innings.
California did not go down quietly, rallying in the top of the fifth inning for two runs. For the third inning of the last four, the Golden Bears led off the inning with a runner on base.
Chelsea Spencer started the offensive attack with a single up the middle, before being sacrificed over by Emily Friedman. Following Hollowell’s 23rd wild pitch on the year, Julie Meyer came through with Spencer on second with an RBI single to center field. The base knock consequently snapped Arizona’s 45 inning streak without surrendering an earned run. Cal Head Coach Diane Ninemire then pinch ran Erika Racklin for Meyer. Following an Alex Sutton strikeout, Kaleo Eldredge grounded a ball back to the circle, where Hollowell mishandled the grounder, before throwing the ball to the backstop. The defensive miscues allowed Racklin to score the game’s tying run.
Arizona nearly ended the game in the 11th inning, when Kristie Fox led off the inning with a double to the center field wall. Ninemire pulled Thorson, bringing back Anderson to put out the fire. After walking Coburn, Anderson struck out Shelly Schultz and induced Jennifer Martinez into a 5-3 groundout double play.
Arizona threatened in the top of the eighth, when Allyson Von Liechtenstein singled through the left side to start up the inning. Unfortunately for the Cats the top of the order made three consecutive outs, sending the game deeper into extras.
Arizona next plays Texas. Game time is 6 p.m. (CDT) or 22 minutes following the completion of the Alabama-DePaul game, which started at approximately 3:15 CDT. The game will be carried on ESPN and ESPN HD.
- Arizona has three multi-home run games in the postseason. In 49 regular season contests, the Wildcats had two or more home runs three games.
- Eight of Arizona’s 33 home runs (24 percent) have come in seven postseason games (13 percent of total games).
- UA pitcher Alicia Hollowell has lost just one game when the Wildcats score two or more runs. Five of her eight losses have come when UA is held scoreless.
- Of Callista Balko’s 23 RBI, 18 have come with two outs.
- Balko’s two-game hitting streak is the longest of any Wildcat.
- Arizona is 6-0 when hitting two or more home runs this year.
- The Wildcats improved to 38-0 when leading after four innings.
- Arizona gave up its first earned run of the postseason (seven games)
- With the win, Arizona is now 4-1 in extra-inning games this year.
- Crystal Farley’s steal of second base marked the second game in the last 14 contests that Arizona has swiped a bag.