TEMPE, Ariz. - Junior Ally Carda continued her candidacy for National Player of the Year on Friday, hitting a game-tying home run in the seventh inning and the go-ahead, two-run bomb in the ninth, as the second-ranked Bruins rallied for a 9-5 victory over #3 Arizona State at Farrington Stadium.
The Bruins improve to 47-6 overall and 18-5 in Pac-12 play, clinching second place in the conference, while the Sun Devils fall to 44-9-1 and 15-6-1 in league action.
UCLA had 11 hits, posting its 13th comeback victory of the season and sixth win when trailing in its last at-bat. Three players had multiple-hit games, as sophomore Mysha Sataraka had three with four runs batted in, junior Stephany LaRosa added two with two RBI and Carda posted two with three RBI and four runs scored.
Carda (28-4) pitched a full game in relief, striking out eight in seven innings and allowing three runs, five hits and five walks. She had a 1-2-3 inning in the third, striking out a pair in the sixth, eighth and ninth frames. Sophomore Paige McDuffee started and struck out one in two innings, giving up two runs, two hits and a walk, posting a 1-2-3 inning in the first.
UCLA turned the tables on Arizona State Friday night, one evening after the Sun Devils took a first-inning lead with a two-run homer. In the Bruins’ first ups, Carda drew a walk, and one out later, LaRosa jacked her 14th home run of the season to right-center to put the visitors on top 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, Arizona State tied the score. With one out, Elizabeth Caporuscio drew a walk and moved to second on a single through the right side by Bethany Kemp. After a ground out to the right side off the bat of Nikki Girard moved both runners up, Chelsea Gonzales singled up the middle to plate a pair and even the game.
UCLA got the two runs back in the third. Sophomore Allexis Bennett led off with a bunt single in front of the plate, but was erased on a fielder’s choice ground out to third by Carda. Freshman Delaney Spaulding followed with a bunt single down the first-base line and a bloop hit to left-center by LaRosa loaded the bases for Sataraka, who singled to left to bring in Carda and Spaulding to make it 4-2 UCLA. The Bruins had a chance at some more, but left the bases loaded.
Arizona State took its first lead of the game with three in the fifth. Girard led off with a double to left-center and was pinch-run for by Abby Spiel, while Jennifer Soria walked and Bailey Wigness reached on an infield single to load the bases. Alix Johnson then grounded a ball to junior Gracie Goulder at second, who ended up going to first and threw high, allowing Spiel and Soria to score to tie the game, as Wigness moved to third, but Johnson was retired at second. Cheyenne Coyle followed with a single to left to plate Wigness to give the Sun Devils a 5-4 advantage.
In the seventh, the Bruins were down to their last two strikes when Carda tied things up, smashing a 2-1 pitch out to left for her 12th homer of the season to make it 5-all.
In the top of the eighth, UCLA stranded a pair. Sataraka had a one-out single to right and was pinch-run for by junior Jessica Amaral, who moved to third one out later on a bloop single to right off the bat of senior Alyssa Tiumalu. But senior Jessica Hall popped up to third to end the threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, Kemp drew a one-out walk, but Carda came back with strikeouts of Girard and Soria to send the game to the ninth.
UCLA put up four in the ninth on a pair of two-run homers. Goulder led off with a bunt single to the left side and moved to second on a sacrifice by Bennett. Carda followed by clubbing a 3-2 pitch out to center for her 13th of the season to put the Bruins up 7-5. Spaulding then drew a walk, and one out later, Sataraka slammed one out to right for her team-leading 16th of the season to increase the advantage to 9-5.
The Bruins and the Sun Devils close out the three-game series and the regular season on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be aired live on Pac-12 Networks.