Breanna Macha limited the Bruins to one run through the first five innings on Friday. The sixth inning, however was a different story for the right-handed, senior and the Sun Devils.
UCLA (49-4, 19-4 Pac-12) used a four-run inning in the sixth to power itself to a 5-1 victory over Arizona State (43-10, 16-7) and even the series Friday.
For Macha, her only blemish coming into the game-changing inning was a solo home run from UCLA’s shortstop Briana Perez. Perez, who had a three-hit night against Macha started the monster inning for the Bruins with a single. The dangerous freshman designated player Aaliyah Jordan then cashed in with a two-run opposite field home run to put the Bruins up 3-1.
UCLA added two more runs in the inning after the home run. Those were unearned against Macha, as the Sun Devils’ defense committed two errors and weren’t as sharp as they were in the first five innings.
“We didn’t stop the bleeding,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “Bre would love to take that pitch back. Things happen, that’s part of the game. There’s success and failure, it’s how you respond. I don’t think our defense responded very well.”
Sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez did finally stop the bleeding with a terrific diving play and shovel to get the final out.
Macha went all six innings for the Sun Devils allowing five runs, only three earned on six hits and striking out four. On the other side of the circle, Garcia for the second straight game held the Sun Devils to two hits. The only offense coming from the bat of freshman designated player DeNae Chatman. Chatman’s moon shot in the fifth inning tied the game at one and gave Arizona State life before the sixth inning.
“She’s had opportunities all year long. She’s seen pitches, she’s seen a really high-level pitching,” Ford said about Chatman’s power surge to the lineup. “She’s done a great job of making adjustments. We always tell her ‘one time a game we need you to be on time.’ And she’s been very consistent and smoking a ball. She loves to hit and I love to watch her.”
The game-tying home run was Chatman’s sixth of the season. Ford gave the freshman the start against Oregon on April 14 to add another power bat to the lineup and Chatman has delivered five home runs since then.
Although the ending wasn’t a happy one for Ford and the Sun Devils, she likes the squad’s chances heading into Saturday’s rubber match.
“Tonight we had a bad inning. For five and a half innings we played really well,” she said. “It’s just us going seven innings of playing great ball. Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to come out. I like our chances, it’s a good matchup. We’re excited to come out tomorrow because I don’t think they feel really comfortable with us.”
Expect sophomore Giselle “G” Juarez to be back in the circle Saturday at 12 p.m.after her shutout performance on Thursday. She’ll most likely face UCLA’s Holly Azevedo, who the Sun Devils haven’t seen this weekend.