The Sun Devils couldn’t have asked for a better start. The bases were loaded and there were no outs to start the game. That is, until they didn’t come away with runs. Alynah Torres hit into a double play and Alli Tatnall couldn’t find a two-out hit.
The opportunity to drive in runs with the bases loaded came again in the second inning. This time it was Jazmine Hill who grounded out to end the frame and strand more baserunners.
Arizona State (20-9, 3-5 Pac-12) in total left nine runners on the bases. Meanwhile, Utah (12-14, 1-7) cashed in on most of their chances as it won 6-4.
Hill had another chance to continue a rally in the sixth. Her team already scored two closing the deficit to three, and had a chance to give Maddi Hackbarth serious damage as she typically does against the Utes.
Instead, Sydney Sandez got the Sun Devil right fielder to bounce one to the second baseman to escape another jam.
ASU added another one in the seventh, making things even tighter and bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. Jordyn VanHook lined one to left field, but Utah’s Haley Denning caught it and doubled off Yanni Acuna from second base to end the game.
Kindra Hackbarth reached in all of her plate appearances. She hit her eighth home run of the season, singled twice, and walked. Hill, Torres and Maddi Hackbarth struggled behind her, going a combined 1-for-10.
Allison Royalty battled but hurt herself with six walks. The freshman right-hander allowed six hits, three less than the Sun Devils had, but three of those batters who walked would later score.
The six base on balls were a season-high for Royalty, topping her previous high of three. In most cases, especially with a young arm looking to mature with experience, Trisha Ford would rather see Royalty pound the zone and get hit.
The two teams will decide the series on Saturday at 11 a.m. local time.