BERKELEY, Calif. — The second-ranked Arizona State softball team fell 4-2 to No. 1 California on Thursday in the opener of a series that will determine the inaugural Pac-12 champion.
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After the scoreboard went unlit for the first three innings, the Sun Devils (45-6, 17-3 Pac-12) got on the board first in the top of the fourth, With bases the loaded, Elizabeth Caporuscio’s sacrifice fly to left field brought home Katelyn Boyd, who had reached on a walk, to put ASU ahead 1-0.
In the sixth, Amber Freeman homered to left center with two outs to give ASU a 2-0 lead. The long ball was Freeman’s 10th of the year.
California (49-3, 20-2 Pac-12) rallied to it at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with its own two-out rally, scoring a pair of runs via walks by Danielle Henderson and Victoria Jones.
Mackenzie Popescue entered the circle for the Sun Devils in the bottom of the sixth to close out the frame after Dallas Escobedo left after 5 2/3 innings pitched. Escobedo struck out six and was charged with the two runs.
Cal’s Valerie Arioto put an end to the contest in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run walk-off homer to right center, giving the Golden Bears the 4-2 victory. Popescue took the loss (7-2) after 2/3 innings pitched and two strikeouts, while Cal’s Jolene Henderson improved to 30-1 on the year.
Arizona State must win the next two games against Cal to earn the Pac-12 championship; the Bears need to win just one of the next two to take the crown.