Senior second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz had a rollercoaster game on Friday. But there was no bigger high than her two-run home run in the tenth inning to give the Sun Devils a 2-run lead.
Ultimately, that is all Arizona State (25-4, 3-1 Pac-12) needed as it defeated No. 20 California (24-6, 1-3) 4-2 in the series opener in Berkeley.
Stankiewicz found her first hit of conference play Friday, launching a home run into the left field bleachers to put the Sun Devils up 1-0 in the second inning. Despite the dinger, the second baseman saw struggles in the field. The Golden Bears put runners on first and second in the fourth inning right before Cal’s Kobie Pettis hit a grounder to the second baseman that she couldn’t field cleanly, which led to Cal tying the game.
Sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez also had her ups and downs on Friday. Gortarez homered in the seventh inning to make the game 2-1, which seemed like it was going to be the game-winner. But her throwing error with two-outs in the bottom of the seventh allowed the tying run to come around and send the game to extra innings.
Arizona State only collected five hits against the combination of Cal’s Kamalani Dung and Zoe Conley, nevertheless Stankiewicz and Gortarez’s home runs were enough to put the Sun Devils over the top.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez continued her remarkable season. Juarez celebrated her birthday on Friday by pitching all 10 innings and setting her career-high with 17 strikeouts. Both runs against the sophomore were unearned as she extended her scoreless streak to 63 innings. The last earned run Juarez gave up dates back to a solo home run she allowed against Mississippi State on February 22. Juarez has now pitched 24 of the team’s last 31 innings of play.
“‘G’ is healthy and so she’s going to throw,” Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford said after last weekend’s wins over Washington. “That’s why she’s here. That’s why we brought her here. She’s going to throw, she’s going to throw a lot of innings. She wants to.”
Freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson singled in tenth and her pinch runner, freshman Bella Loomis, later scored on Stankiewicz’s game-winning home run. Gibson, the team’s leader in average, has now hit safety in nine of her last 10 games.
Game two with the Golden Bears will be at 3:30 P.T. on Saturday. Expect senior right-handed pitcher Breanna Macha to be in the circle for the Sun Devils.