SEATTLE – Kelly Meggs scored after an error following an Ali Aguilar single in the bottom of the 13th inning and the No. 22/22 Arizona State University softball team dropped its Pac-12 opener to No. 17/18 Washington, 8-7, on Friday in Seattle, Wash.
The Sun Devils opened the 2015 Pac-12 Conference slate with their longest game since a 13-inning marathon against Stanford in 2008. Unlike that game, however, ASU was unable to find the timely hit it needed to propel it over the top against a tough Husky squad on the road, stranding 16 runners in the contest.
The Devils (19-9, 0-1 Pac-12) rallied in the seventh inning from two runs down to tie the game and Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak held the potent Husky offense scoreless for eight innings after UW (26-4, 1-0 Pac-12) jumped on Macha for seven runs in the first four innings, but the dam finally broke in the bottom of the 13th in the walk-off victory for the home team.
Casey Stangel earned the win for the Huskies, improving to 7-1 on the season, while Ryndak took the loss and dropped to 8-3. Both pitchers entered the game in replace of Kasey Stanchek and Macha, respectively.
The Devils loaded the bases in both the 10th and 12th innings but were unable to capitalize and UW made them pay in the 13th. Kylee Lahners led off with a single off Ryndak on a 1-2 count and was pinch ran for by Meggs.
Taylor Van Zee followed with a single of her own to advance Meggs to second, setting up the single by Aguilar through the right side that Sierra Rodriguez was unable to corral properly, allowing Meggs to come home without drama.
The exciting ending almost didn’t happen if not for huge gut check by the Sun Devils in the top of the seventh inning, where it trailed 7-5 with two outs on the board before rallying to even the game.
Down to the final strike and the final out, Haley Steele reached on an infield single and Amber Freeman followed that with a single of her own. That brought up Gonzales who launched a double into the gap in right center to bring Steele home. Allie Butterfield, pinch running for Freeman, slipped and fell coming to third as head coach Craig Nicholson was waving her home and the potential game-tying run remained on the base path.
Palacios drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Kemp, who chopped a slow roller to shortstop and reached on a throwing error by Aguilar that brought Butterfield home in the process, tying things at seven.
Macha put down the Huskies in order in the bottom half of the inning - her third consecutive scoreless inning – setting up Ryndak to enter in the eighth.
Ryndak got into some trouble in the inning as UW had runners on the corners following a long Courtney Gano fly ball that Jennifer Soria tracked down at the warning to keep ASU alive. Ryndak walked the next batter to load the base but got out of the inning with a Kimberlee Souza groundout.
The frosh got into a groove then, retiring 13 straight batters before the decisive 13th inning.
The Devil offense couldn’t provide the run support to back up the youngster, however.
ASU loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the 10th inning but were unable to capitalize following a Steele flyout to end the inning. The Devils would again load the bases in the top of the 12th with one out but a Steele fielder’s choice and Raianna Robbs groundout ended the threat there as well.
Freeman got ASU on the board early, taking Stanchek yard with two outs and Elizabeth Caporuscio on second for an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Huskies responded by taking Macha yard twice in the bottom half of the inning, including a two-run shot by Casey Stangel to put UW back up, 3-2.
The Devils would take advantage of some rare Seattle sunlight peeking out in the top of the third as Soria sent one down the right-field line for a lead off-double. Sierra Rodriguez would reach on a fielder’s choice on the following at-bat to put runners on the corners with no outs.
That set up Caporuscio, who showed her gap-to-gap power with a long double to right center to clear the bases and put ASU back up 4-3. She would advance to third on a wild pitch and come home on a Chelsea Gonzales fielder’s choice to complete the three-run half-inning and put ASU back on top 5-3.
Again, the Huskies wasted little time responding on their own and loaded the bases with no outs to start the bottom of the third.
Souza would reach of a fielder’s choice, plating Aguilar as Stangel was forced out at second. The slow-developing action would lead to pinch runner Kelly Burdick trying to come home, where she was gunned down by Gonzales’ throw from second.
With two away in the inning, Macha couldn’t get out of trouble as Kelli Suguro roped a line-drive homer over the wall in right field to put UW back on top, 6-5.
ASU would threaten in the top of the fifth with two outs, loading the bases for Palacios. The sophomore strung together quite the at bat, working an 0-2 count full with seven foul balls littered in there before finally grounding out to first to end the threat.