TUCSON – Go back 656 games in the Arizona record books and you will not find a combined offensive performance like the one on display Friday night at Hillenbrand Stadium. Tenth-ranked Arizona and 24th-ranked Stanford put a collective 30 runs on the board, the most total runs in an Arizona game since 2003, 18 of which were scored by the team in home white uniforms, as Arizona defeated Stanford 18-12 in game one of the three game series.
The Wildcats (30-8, 5-5 Pac-12) trailed by four runs heading into the bottom of the fifth before using an eight-spot in the frame to turn the four run deficit to a four-run lead. The Cats added two more in the sixth and, after facing a four-run hill just five outs prior, had the potential mercy-winning run at the plate.
Freshmen Mo Mercado and Katiyana, who each hit a grand slam in the game, had six RBI each, together equaling the total output of the entire Stanford (24-12, 1-6 Pac-12) offense (12 runs).
The 18 runs were Arizona’s most since beating Oregon State 20-1 in five innings on April 23, 2010. The 30 combined runs were the most since the Wildcats and Washington Huskies plated 38 runs in a 21-17 Arizona victory on May 10, 2003.
Arizona scored its 18 runs on 16 hits, equaling a season best in the second column on the line score. Six players (Kelsey Rodriguez, Kellie Fox, Chelsea Goodacre, Mauga, Mercado and Cynthia Pelayo) had multi-hit games in the contest, including Mauga’s second career multi-homer game and Mercado’s second-career three-hit outing.
Both grand slams hit by Mauga and Mercado were go-ahead grand slams; Mauga’s broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the first while Mercado’s turned a 12-11 deficit to a 15-12 lead in the fifth. They were grand slams numbers eight and nine for Arizona on the season, which had two all of last season. Mauga leads the team with four grand slams.
Arizona used a trio of pitchers with Kenzie Fowler (6-3) earning the win in relief. Fowler did not allow a run on just a single hit in three innings of work. The senior struck out two and walked four in the appearance. Starter Estela Piñon allowed six runs on five hits in 1.2 innings with a strikeout and four walks. The six runs allowed were the most in an appearance for Piñon since April 2, 2013 against California (6 runs). Sophomore Nancy Bowling relieved Piñon in the second and allowed six runs, just three earned, on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
Stanford’s 11 hits were the most hits surrendered by UA pitching this season. However, of the 11 base-knocks, just three went for extra bases. Meanwhile, for Arizona, which leads the country with a .620 slugging percentage, seven of its 16 hits were extra-base hits, including two Mauga homers and single-homer nights from Lauren Young and Mercado.
An error, a walk and a single loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning for Mauga, who went opposite field for her fourth grand slam of the season.
Stanford responded with six runs in the second inning, the most runs plated against UA in an inning all year. Prior to the frame, Arizona had only allowed six runs an entire game just twice all season. In the inning, Stanford had four hits and took advantage of four Piñon walks in the frame.
With one out in the second, Wilson bunted back to the pitcher, who threw the ball away. The ball rolled all the way to the outfield fence, allowing Wilson to motor around the bases to score on the four-base error. Kelsey Rodriguez followed with a double and scored on Chelsea Goodacre’s game-tying RBI single.
Stanford responded by plating a trio of unearned runs in the bottom of the third inning after an error on a potential double-play ball extended the Cardinal frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Mauga launched her second homer of day, a two run homer to left center to cut the Cardinal lead to 9-8.
Stanford plated three runs in the top of the fifth to extend its lead to 12-8. Kayla Bonstrom and Kylie Sorenson picked up RBI in the inning for the Cardinal.
In the bottom of the fifth, Young walked and Pelayo singled through the left side to put two on for Wilson, who singled down the right field line to bring home pinch runner Payton Kornfeind and bring Arizona within three runs. Kelsey Rodriguez followed with an RBI single to centerfield to chase Madi Schreyer in favor of Tylyn Wells (2-2). Wells walked the first batter she faced to load the bases before giving up a sacrifice fly to Goodacre to cut the lead to one. Mauga drew her second of three walks in the game to reload the bases with two out for Mercado. The freshman took a 2-1 pitch to left-center for her second grand slam of the season to put Arizona on top 15-12. Young, who had just one hit in her last 17 games, followed with a homer of her own as the Cats went back-to-back to make it a 16-12 game after five.
After Fowler worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth, Kelsey Rodriguez and Mauga drew walks and scored on Mercado’s two-out, two-run double to left in the bottom half to give UA an 18-12 lead.
Fowler struck out two and worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh to preserve Arizona’s 18-12 victory.
Arizona and Stanford continue the series Saturday night at Hillenbrand with first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PDT.