Arizona Soccer

Arizona squeaks by Central Michigan in extra innings

Dakota Kennedy and Jasmine Perezchica high-five after Perezchica’s game-winning bunt ended up scoring Blaise Biringer on an error for the win in extra innings Sunday. (Arizona Athletics)

No. 22 Arizona came back from a 3-0 deficit in the top of the third to beat Central Michigan, 5-4, in nine innings at Hillenbrand Stadium Sunday.

The extra-inning win came less than 24 hours after the Wildcats rallied to beat Indiana in 14 innings on Saturday.

With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, an errant throw from Central Michigan third baseman Alyssa Hollo on a bunt from Jasmine Perezchica scored Blaise Biringer for the 5-4 walkoff win.

The final margin was, ironically, Arizona’s first lead of the entire game. 

In NCAA softball, each team begins their half of the inning with a runner on second in extra innings. Central Michigan’s Skylar Coberley singled to left field to start extra innings, bringing Carly Sleeman in to give Central Michigan (1-9) a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth.

With Tayler Biehl placed on second, Regan Shockey reached on an infield single to begin the bottom of the eighth. Dakota Kennedy reached first on a fielding error by the pitcher, loading the bases. A sacrifice fly to center from Carlie Scupin scored Shockey to tie the game at 4-4.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Biringer’s pop fly to shallow center was snagged on a diving catch from Abbey Tolmie to record the third out for the Chippewas and lead the game into the ninth.

Brooke Mannon started the circle and walked Central Michigan’s leadoff hitter Abbey TolmieWith two outs in the top half, Mannon hit Michaleigh Vallimont with a pitch, putting runners on first and second. An RBI single to left field from Coberly put the Chippewas up 1-0. 

Arizona (16-1) still trailed Central Michigan 1-0 in the top of the second when Mannon hit Tailynn Knapp with a pitch to open the top half. Maddie Springer reached first on a bunt to the catcher, advancing Knapp to second before a sacrifice bunt from Lucy Cronin moved runners to second and third. Mannon then struck out Abbey Tolmie and Keira Tolmie to escape the jam unscathed. 

Ali Blanchard came in to relieve Mannon to begin the third but only faced three batters— walking Sleeman, and throwing a wild pitch with one out that advanced Sleeman to third — before Miranda Stoddard came in to relieve her. 

Stoddard immediately gave up a two-run home run to Coberly, extending Central Michigan’s lead to 3-0. 

Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe was disappointed with the effort from the Arizona pitchers up to that point.

“We just didn’t really put ourselves in a good position. When we’re giving up leadoff walks and hit by pitches, those are passes we can’t afford to make,” she said. “I think with our defense playing so well, we have to figure out to control the things we can control and really put the ball in play and let our defense make plays. It’s just frustrating when we get those base runners that kind of didn’t earn their way on.”

Stoddard didn’t allow another hit in her following 3 2/3 innings in the circle. 

Aissa Silva (8-0) relieved Stoddard in the top of the seventh and pitched the final three innings for the win, allowing one run on one hit with four strikeouts. She pitched 19 1/3 innings this weekend in the Hillenbrand Invitational.

Lowe is pleased with how Stoddard and Silva pitched today and the entire weekend.

“Miranda’s been great all weekend. She’s been put into a lot of positions, and the same with Aissa, honestly, where she’s having to dig deep, and Aissa was on fumes today, ” Lowe said. “She threw 10.1 yesterday and found a way to compete for us. So, I think that’s going to be the story. We were technically in our seventh-plus game right there, and we just had to figure out a way to win. As much as I didn’t like our performance, I’m happy that I’m upset with a win and not a loss.”

The Wildcats opened the bottom of the third with back-to-back singles from Shockey and Kennedy. Allie Skaggs hit a sacrifice fly to center that brought Shockey home to trim Central Michigan’s lead to 3-1, but the Wildcats stranded one runner on base to close out the inning.

Central Michigan held a 3-1 lead with one out in the bottom of the fifth when Kennedy walked, and a single up the middle by Scupin moved her to third. A sacrifice fly to left from Olivia DiNardo cut Central Michigan’s lead to 3-2.

Shockey hit an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth.

With the game tied at 3-3, in the bottom of the seventh, Biringer reached first on a throwing error. A bunt single to the pitcher from Perezchica advanced Biringer to second. Skaggs singled to left, but Central Michigan left fielder Knapp threw out Biringer at home to record the second out. Biehl then grounded out to lead the game into extra innings.

Arizona heads to Tuscaloosa later this week for the Crimson Classic, where it eventually plays a pair of games against No. 10 Alabama (16-0) in the first road trip for the Wildcats this season.

Arizona plays Northern Iowa (8-2) in Tuscaloosa on Friday at 10 a.m Tucson time before facing Alabama at 5:30 p.m. Tucson time in its first two games of the Crimson Classic.

FOLLOW @KEVINMURFEE ON TWITTER! writer Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.

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