Cats Fall in Pitcher’s Duel, 2-1

Tempe, Ariz.With help from 16 strikeouts from pitcher Dallas Escobedo, No. 11 Arizona State defeated eighth-ranked Arizona Softball 2-1 Friday night to open the rivalry series.

Despite outhitting the Sun Devils (31-5, 5-2 Pac-12) 5-4, Arizona (28-7, 3-4 Pac-12) struggled with runners on base, going just 1-for-8 with runners on. UA’s lone run in the game came on a sixth-inning solo homer from Chelsea Goodacre.

Estela Piñon (9-5) was stellar in the circle, limiting ASU to just two runs on four hits. Piñon struck out five and walked three in the complete game.

Mo Mercado had two of Arizona’s five hits, while Courtney Rodriguez, Kelsey Rodriguez and Goodacre had a hit apiece.

In the third, after 2.5 scoreless innings, ASU’s Amber Freeman broke the tie with a two-run homer to right field.

Arizona cut the deficit in half in the sixth when Chelsea Goodacre hit her NCAA-best 14th homer of the season to center to make it 2-1 in the sixth.

It is the closest Arizona would get as Escobedo retired the final four batters she faced in the game.

The struggles reflected Arizona’s recent troubles on the road. UA, which is third in the nation in scoring, has scored just 15 runs in its last six road contests, including just five runs in four Pac-12 contests away from Hillenbrand Stadium.

Arizona and ASU continue the series Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PDT on the Pac-12 Network.

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