After dropping the first game of their Pac-12 home opener to Utah (20-5, 4-1 Pac-12) by a score of 8-3, Arizona was looking to bounce back with a victory in the second game.
Bounce back, they did.
Arizona (20-8, 3-2 Pac-12) battled back from behind three times to take Utah into extra innings, getting a thrilling 10-9 win following a walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The win halted Utah’s winning streak at 11 games.
Arizona struck first when Devyn Netz hit an RBI double that scored Jasmine Perezchica.
Netz, the Wildcats’ ace pitcher, started at first base due to Carlie Scupin’s broken arm injury that will keep her out 4-6 weeks.
Starting pitcher freshman Aissa Silva, who has been solid in the circle for the Wildcats this season, kept the Utes scoreless for four innings until a solo home run to center right in the fifth by Sophie Jacquez tied the game at 1.
Utah added another run in the fifth inning to take a 2-1 lead.
It was a pitcher duel until the sixth inning when Utah took a 4-1 lead after scoring two runs off of a Shelbi Ortiz homer and an RBI double by Aliya Belarde.
Netz moved from first base to the circle to try to stop the Utes. A fly out by Utah’s Ellessa Bonstrom, a CDO grad, ended the inning.
Netz originally came to Arizona expecting to play first base.
When asked about her first start at first base, Netz said, “I’m just out her trying to respond in any way that I can. Just stay in the game. Playing first base is fun I love being an athlete.”
Netz also spoke about being moved from first to the pitcher’s circle, “It was always in the back of my head since the first inning. I warmed up before the game so I knew if anything happened it could’ve been in the first or the sixth inning. It doesn’t matter. I was warming up throughout the game. It was always in the back of my head at first base.”
Bottom of the seventh started the first of three comeback innings for the Wildcats.
Arizona scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Olivia DiNardo, an error by Utah’s shortstop and a passed ball that tied the game at 4-4, sending the game into extra innings.
In the eighth inning Utah grabbed the lead 6-4 on a two-run single by Abby Dayton.
Que Arizona’s second comeback:
Netz hit an RBI single up the middle that scored Perezchica and DiNardo followed up with an RBI single to right field scoring Allie Skaggs, tying the game at 6.
In the ninth, Utah took the lead again plating three runs and led 9-6 headed into the bottom of the inning.
Arizona’s third and final comeback was one for the ages.
After a Dakota Kennedy double to left center, Izzy Pacho was hit by a pitch. Sophia Carroll then smacked a home run to right field, knotting the game at 9.
Carroll on her game-tying home run and if she felt the ball was gone: “Honestly no. I was watching her track it and I had a feeling she was going back and she broke down for a second. I was getting ready to just keep running. When it went out, I was amped”.
With the bases loaded, Skaggs came to the plate. She kept her composure, used her patience and waited for the perfect pitch.
The perfect pitch was ball four resulting in the walk-off walk for a Wildcat win.
After the game, Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe spoke about the mental flip from the first game to the second game.
“We talked about what the buildup looks like to the game starting,” Lowe said. “It’s 18 different people. Half of them are going to be loose and some of them need to get mentally focused. Just figuring out what their process is to get ready to throw punches in the first inning and not hang back.
“For us it was just get yourselves ready to go so that when the bell rings we are on it and we are attacking from pitch one to the very end of the game.”
Arizona will face Utah on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. in a rubber match of the series.