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Offense Erupts in Thrilling Victory over No. 1 Oregon
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 05/09/2014
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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TUCSON Arizona’s offense struck early and often while Shelby Babcock’s brilliance in relief helped cool off a furious comeback attempt from No. 1 Oregon as the Cats downed the Ducks 11-8 in a thrilling game at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday night.

Arizona plated six runs in the bottom of the first inning against a pitching staff which had given up six or more runs in an entire game just five times previously all season long. The six-run first was backed up by Arizona’s three-run second which gave the Wildcats the early comfortable seven-run lead.

The teams exchanged single runs in the fourth inning to keep Arizona’s lead at seven before Oregon rallied.

In the top of the fifth inning, seven consecutive Oregon batters reached base, five via a hit. The Ducks struck for five runs and had the tying runs on for the top of its order when Arizona went to the bullpen.

Babcock was perfect in her first appearance of senior weekend. The senior would retire the two batters she faced in the fifth to strand the tying runs on base and then work 1-2-3 innings in both the sixth and seventh to earn her second save of the season.

Babcock relieved Estela Piñon, who was stellar through four, but, after pitching a complete game on Thursday, ran out of gas in the fifth. In all, the senior allowed eight runs, six earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts and five walks and improved to 17-6 on the year.

Though the dueling high-powered offenses were the story, the defenses also came heavily into play in the game, with the two teams combining for nine errors. Both teams – Oregon (5) and Arizona (4) – had season-highs in the column. All eight runs in the first inning were unearned.

It is the first victory over a No. 1 team for the Wildcats since beating top-ranked California 8-3 on April 14, 2012 in Berkeley.

Offensively, the Cats used an 11-hit attack, including homers from Kelsey Rodriguez, Katiyana Mauga and Chelsea Goodacre.

Mauga led the way with three RBI while Mo Mercado and Courtney Rodriguez chipped in two apiece.

A single, an Arizona error, the fourth of the series, and a walk loaded the bases for Oregon in the top of the first inning with one out. A sacrifice fly and another UA error plated a pair of runs for Oregon.

The Wildcats responded in a big way, with some unearned runs of their own. Arizona batted around and scored six runs in the bottom of the first. Oregon committed four errors in the frame. Katiyana Mauga and Mo Mercado each singled in a pair while Courtney Rodriguez and Alex Lavine added single RBI hits in the inning.

Arizona added to its lead with a leadoff homer by Kelsey Rodriguez on the first pitch of the bottom of second inning. UA would put the next two on with nobody out, but Smithson-Willett. Lauren Young cashed in with an RBI single and Courtney Rodriguez followed with an RBI double to give Arizona a 9-2 lead after two.

Oregon got a run back in the top of the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Nikki Udria.

After a Mauga homer put Arizona back ahead by seven, Oregon responded in the top of the fifth, helped out by a couple Arizona errors. Back-to-back-to-back base hits plated the Ducks’ first run and, with the bases loaded and one out, Piñon walked in a run to make it 10-5. Sammie Puentes added an RBI single to bring the Ducks within four runs. A two-run single for Udria made it 10-8. Babcock entered to get the final two outs of the inning, stranding the potential tying runs in scoring position.

The Cats insured their lead when Goodacre hit her 22nd home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth, a solo homer that gave Arizona an 11-8 lead.

The score would hold up as Babcock worked a 1-2-3 seventh to secure the victory.

Arizona will go for its first series victory over a No. 1 team in program history when the two teams meet for a senior day rubber match Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PDT on the Pac-12 Network.

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