TEMPE, Ariz. – In a game that included 31 runs, 33 hits and nine innings of play, No. 24/23 Stanford fell just short of knocking off No. 11/8 Arizona State on Saturday, 16-15.
Down six runs going into the seventh, Stanford (23-9, 1-3 Pac-12) erupted for eight runs in the inning, capped by a three-run home run by Erin Ashby, to take a 15-13 lead. It was the second week in a row the Cardinal erased a deficit of five or more runs in the seventh inning, completing the same feat in a 14-13 win over California last weekend.
Arizona State (28-5, 2-2 Pac-12) responded with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
Both teams had their opportunities to score in the extra frames but it wasn’t until the bottom of the ninth when the Sun Devils brought across the winning run on a strange play.
With the bases loaded and one out, Nikki Girard stepped into the box for Arizona State as a pinch hitter. Tylyn Wells (2-1) was in the circle for the Cardinal and threw a pitch high and inside. Girard turned away from the pitch, took a step out of the batter’s box and began to look down to third base for a sign from her coach.
However, the home plate umpire stepped out from behind home plate and signaled that the batter had been hit on the shoulder by the pitch – creating a moment of confusion for both teams.
Girard took her base and ran down to first, bringing in the winning run.
Stanford had an opportunity to take the lead in the eighth inning, getting two runners on, but was unable to take advantage. Jessica Plaza reached base in the top of the ninth but was left on first base.
The game featured a steady flow of offense with runs scored in 12 of 18 half innings. Arizona State manufactured runs in all but the eighth inning, while Stanford scored two or more runs in four innings, including an eight-run seventh.
Jessica Plaza (4-for-6), Kayla Bonstrom (3-for-6), Kylie Sorenson (3-for-5) and Bessie Noll (2-for-4) led Stanford offensively with multi-hit games. Plaza and Sorenson each hit two-run home runs, while Ashby added a three-run shot.
Sorenson led the team with five RBI, followed by Ashby with three, and Noll and Plaza with two apiece.
Stanford will look to even the series Sunday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.