Long ball powers ASU softball past Cal

TEMPE — With a barrage of home runs, the No. 21 Arizona State softball team took down No. 12 Cal, 8-7, on Friday night at Farrington Stadium to win the first game in its Pac-12 home opener.

Sierra Rodriguez, Chelsea Gonzales, Sashel Palacios and Haley Steele hit homers.

Palacios hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth for the insurance the Sun Devils (21-9, 2-1) needed.

Coming into the game, Cal starting pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski had given up only five home runs over 66 1/3 innings this season, and reliever Nisa Ontiveros hadn’t given up any. The Devils managed to knock three home runs off Trzcinski and one more off Ontiveros.

Breanna Macha got the start for the Sun Devils in the circle and picked up her 10th win of the season. The true freshman right-hander gave up three earned runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. Dale Ryndak recorded the final three outs to record her third save this year.

ASU got the scoring started in the third when Gonzales smoked a ball over the center field fence with two runners on.

But the Bears (22-5, 1-4) came charging back in the top of the fourth. On five hits, one walk, and aided by a Sun Devil error, Cal put up six runs to turn the tide and take a three-run lead.

Down two a home run from Rodriguez in the fourth, the Devils regained the lead with a three-run fifth. Steele homered to center field with a runner on to tie the game up at 6; later in the inning, Bethany Kemp scored on an error by Cal’s first baseman.

In the sixth, Palacios stepped up to the plate with two outs and nobody on base, and delivered a shot to center to put ASU ahead by two.

Cal’s Danielle Henderson led off the top of the seventh with a home run off Macha to pull the Bears within one, forcing coach Craig Nicholson to call upon Ryndak, who closed the door on the Bears.

The Devils and Bears play the second game of the series Saturday.