Mo Mercado drove in four runs as the Arizona Wildcats avoided being swept by Arizona State, winning 6-5 in 10 innings Sunday night at Farrington Stadium.
The No. 11-ranked Sun Devils (32-6, 6-3 Pacific-12) had defeated the No. 8 Wildcats (29-8, 4-5) 2-1 and 4-1 Friday and Saturday, but the marathon roller coaster final game is the one that will sting them all week.
“We definitely gave away some opportunities to win that ball game, they didn’t capitalize,” first-year ASU coach Craig Nicholson said.
Arizona second baseman Chelsea Suitos collected the first hit of the evening in the top of third, but was left on base. The Sun Devils took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Amber Freeman hit a solo home run to center with two outs. ASU would leave the next two players on base.
“When one team scored, the other came back, it’s always like that with a rival,” Freeman said. “We fought and fought, we’re a little disappointed now, but two out of three is awesome. We just need to take advantage of opportunities that were given.”
The Wildcats’ Chelsea Goodacre tied it at 1-1 with a solo homer of her own in the top of the fourth, which was her 15th of the season.
Mercado drove home freshman pinch runner Eva Watson to give Arizona a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, it looked like the Sun Devils had it wrapped up when Elizabeth Caporuscio delivered a two-run triple to the warning track with no outs, giving them a 3-2 advantage.
Arizona would not go away however; after Dallas Escobedo struck out the opening two hitters in the top of the seventh, Hallie Wilson singled to center, and she was scored on a Kelsey Rodriguez triple to center.
ASU had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases until Caporuscio popped out.
Mercado then smacked a two-run home run to center with one out in the top of the eighth to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead.
Alix Johnson answered right back with a two-run home run to left with one out to wrap it at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth.
In the top of the 10th, Arizona shortstop Kellie Fox doubled to left, prompting Nicholson to replace Escobedo with Mackenzie Popescue. Fox would be driven home off a single of Mercado’s bat to give the Wildcats another lead, 6-5.
Kenzie Fowler entered on the mound for Arizona after a leadoff walk to the 10th. Cheyenne Coyle ran out the throw to first base to load the bases after having full count and two outs, but Bethany Kemp struck out to end the game after three and a half hours.
Escobedo struck out five of the first seven batters she faced and finished with 14, while Estela Pinon collected seven strikeouts for Arizona.
ASU travels to California to play the Golden Bears next weekend, and the Wildcats will host Stanford. The next game at Tempe will be at 7 p.m. April 10 versus Utah.