In the top of the tenth, the game was locked at two runs a piece when redshirt senior infielder Marisa Stankiewicz stepped up to the plate and, with a runner on, blasted a home run to give the Sun Devils a 4-2 win over the California Golden Bears.
After taking two of three from the No. 1 Washington Huskies, the No. 12 Sun Devils had a target on their back, which is part of the reason why head coach Trisha Ford sent sophomore Giselle Juarez out on Friday.
Juarez established herself as the staff ace last weekend when she pitched two shutouts against the Huskies.
The hurler carried her hot streak to No. 20 California as she allowed two runs in 10 innings pitched while picking up a career-high 17 strikeouts against the Golden Bears.
She was just two punch outs shy of the all-time Sun Devils single game record of 19, held by Dallas Escobedo set against Portland State in February of 2013.
The Sun Devil’s offense was led by Stankiewicz who collected two hits in three at bats. Both hits left the yard, the first being a solo shot in the top of the second to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 and the second was a game-winning hit in the top of the tenth.
The other ASU run came via the bat of sophomore infielder Jade Gortarez, as she launched a line drive home run into the left field bleachers for her only hit of the day to give the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh.
ASU and California continued the series on Saturday afternoon, and for the second day in a row, the Sun Devils came up with some late-inning heroics by upending Cal 3-1 in 10 innings.
Through five innings, both teams were tied in a 0-0 stalemate courtesy of ASU senior pitcher Breanna Macha and Cal redshirt junior pitcher Zoe Conley.
However, with two outs and Stankiewicz at first base in the top of the sixth inning, senior outfielder Nichole Chilson stepped up to the plate for the Sun Devils and delivered a pinch-hit, RBI double into right center field to give ASU a 1-0 lead.
While the Sun Devils took the 1-0 advantage, it was short lived as Cal responded by putting up a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning.
The run tied the game and was unearned after a throwing error, but Macha was able to limit the damage by stranding the go-ahead run on the base paths.
Then after a back-and-forth affair that saw no runs score to begin extra innings, Gortarez stepped up to the plate in the 10th and changed the game.
To lead off the inning, Gortarez grounded a chopper back up the middle that rolled off of the glove of Cal senior shortstop Jazmyn Jackson into shallow center field.
Coming out of the box, Gortarez never turned off her jets and the Golden Bears hesitated getting to the ball. Rounding the bag with a full head of steam, Gortarez sped into second base safely with a head first slide.
Following Gortarez’s advance into scoring position, junior outfielder Morgan Howe made the extra 60-feet hurt by roping a double into left center field, and freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson then brought Howe home with a single back up the middle to make the final score 3-1.
After a stellar performance from Macha, Juarez threw down the fire blanket through the rest of the game by striking out eight Golden Bears in three innings to close out the contest.
The win pushed ASU to 26-4, and it had a little extra significance as ASU head coach Trisha Ford picked up career win No. 200.
In Sunday’s contest, ASU picked up the series sweep with a 4-0 shutout victory courtesy of a three-headed monster in the circle and one swing of the bat in the sixth inning.
Similar to the first two games of the series, ASU and Cal were in a tightly-contested game headed into the sixth inning.
The score was knotted 0-0, but the Sun Devils began the inning with a leadoff single from Gortarez.
Along with a couple of walks and an error, Cal loaded the bases, and the Sun Devils made the late-inning miscues hurt with a grand slam off of the bat of junior outfielder Skylar McCarty.
The big fly was McCarty’s second home run of the season, and it was backed by a shutout from a trio of pitchers.
Senior pitcher Dale Ryndak combined with Macha and Juarez to allow just four hits while striking out five, and the Sun Devils ran away with a series sweep in Berkeley to improve to 27-4 overall.
Up next, ASU will return home for back-to-back non-conference doubleheaders when they take on BYU and North Dakota State on March 30-31.