Arizona softball gets past Boston for NCAA tourney win
MAY 17, 2014 3:46a ET
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Estela Pinon struck out eight to earn the win in in four innings of relief and help lead host Arizona to a 9-6 victory over Boston University, putting the Wildcats in the winner's bracket of the NCAA tournament regional at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
Arizona (42-13) will play LSU in Game 3 at 1:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday for the right to play in Sunday's regional championship game. Boston will play Louisville in the first elimination game at 4:30 p.m.
The Wildcats collected 11 hits and were aided by a pair of miscues that cost the Terriers (35-20). Kelsey Rodriguez drove in three runs and Chelsea Suitos knocked in a pair.
Pinon improved to 18-7 on the year, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks.
Arizona took an early, short-lived lead with four unearned runs in the second inning. Mo Mercado reached on a one-out error by shortstop Brittany Clendenny, and Lauren Young doubled. Courtney Rodriguez then hit a grounder to third, and Boston's Brittany Younan threw out Mercado trying to score. But Chelsea Suitos singled in Young, Hallie Wilson got a hit to load the bases and Kelsey Rodriguez cleared them all with a double to right field. She was thrown out trying to stretch it into a three-base hit.
The Terriers struck back with hits by Emily Feinbaum and Amy Ekart and a walk to Clendenny by Arizona starter Shelby Babcock. With two outs, Chelsea Kerr slugged a grand slam -- just her third homer of the season -- to tie the contest.
But in the bottom of the frame, a sacrifice fly by Mercado and a run-scoring single by Young put Arizona back on top at 6-4.
The Wildcats pulled Babcock before the start of the third, bringing in Pinon. She struck out the first two batters she faced, but the Terriers had the tying run at the plate after an infield bunt single by Jayme Mask. Pinon struck out Younan to end the threat.
In the fifth, Arizona put three more runs on the board, all unearned. Chelsea Goodacre singled to lead off the frame, and with two outs, Young's high fly ball was dropped near the fence by center fielder Moriah Connolly, allowing Goodacre to score and Young to reach third. Connolly then couldn't get to a drive off the bat of Courtney Rodriguez that turned into an RBI triple. Suitos singled her in to make it 9-4.
Boston brought in reliever Makinna Akers to pitch the Arizona sixth in favor of starter Melanie Russell (12-4). Akers gave up a leadoff hit, but the Terriers turned a nifty 7-4 double play to end the inning.
Boston added two runs in the top of the seventh on an RBI double from Clendenny and a sacrifice fly by Kehr, who led all players with the five RBI.
Arizona improved to 80-8 overall in NCAA regional action in its 28 appearances and has lost a regional home game just once, that coming in 1990 against Arizona State.
Boston, winner of the Patriot League tournament for an automatic bid, is playing in its seventh NCAA tournament.