Softball Takes Series Against Cal with 6-4 Comeback Victory on Sunday
SALT LAKE CITY- Utah (20-17, 4-5) took the rubber game against California (22-17, 4-8) on Sunday afternoon, erasing an early four run deficit to complete the comeback and secure the 6-4 win. The Utes take the series against the Bears after dropping the first game on Friday, their first conference series win since 2019 against Oregon.
Senior Sydney Sandez headed the charge replacing Shi Smith in the circle at the start of the second inning, throwing 6.0 innings giving up just five hits and striking out five bears to earn her second win of the weekend.
Katie Faulk lead the Utes at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, one run scored and hit her fourth home run of the year to extend the lead 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth.
The Utes are now 4-5 in conference play and pick up their 20th win of the year to move to 20-17 overall.
Final: Utes 6, Bears 4
Shi Smith was given the starting nod for final game of the series against Cal and after giving up a single to start the game, bounced back striking out the next two batters. The next three bears did some damage, hitting a single and back-to-back home runs to jump out to the early 4-0 lead.
Coming off a 4-for-4 performance at the plate yesterday, Haley Denning got the Utes started dropping a single on the left field line just on the edge of the infield. Julia Jimenez picked up the second hit of the game sending a shot through the middle and pushed Denning into scoring position. Jordyn Gasper then put the ball in play, reaching on an error between the first baseman's legs and advanced to second as Denning came around to score. Halle Morris kept the inning going with a single to right to score Jimenez, earn the RBI and cut Cal's lead in half, 4-2.
Sandez stepped into the circle for Smith to start the second and made quick work of the bears sitting them down in order in both the second and third frames, picking two strikeouts in the process. Sophie Jacquez made her presence known in right field, making an incredible full layout diving catch and quickly popping up to get the runner at first for the double play. Offensively, the Utes were also retired in order in both the second and third innings.
Cal found three hits in the top of the fourth but Faulk shut the door on their opportunity, throwing out her second bear of the weekend trying to steal second with two outs and a runner on third.
Utah pulled within one in their half of the fourth as Jacquez turned her defense into offense, hitting a deep triple off the right center wall. She would then come across to score on a passed ball. Faulk followed driving a shot into the right center gap for the stand-up double, her second of the year. However, the Utes were unable to score leaving a runner on base.
The Utes tied the game up in the fifth off a throwing error by the Cal catcher in an attempt to throw out Gasper taking second, allowing pinch runner AJ Militello to score. Destiny White pinch hit for Kendall Lundberg and came up huge with a single up the middle to score Gasper and put Utah on top for the first time.
Sandez continued to deal in the sixth inning, sitting down Cal in order for the third time. Faulk put an exclamation point on the comeback victory, crushing her fourth homer of the year over the left center wall to extend the lead 6-4.
Sandez collected her fifth and final strikeout of the outing in the top frame of the seventh, putting the game away with a lineout to Jimenez.
Thoughts from Head Coach Amy Hogue
On the series against Cal…
"Winning is a lot more fun. I appreciate the mind set that this team brought on the second and third day. On the first day, they [Utah] started hot and finished cold and that doesn't win you ball games in this conference. You have to play consistent for seven innings and in the second game we stayed in control the whole game but game three is the reason why you need to stay consistent for the whole game. Whether you get up or you get down, the game is seven innings long and you have to play the whole way."
On Syndey Sandez and her performance this weekend…
"Syd wanted the ball and the matchup was right. Her ball went down, she had a game plan, stuck with it and gave the ball to her infielders who picked it up and played the small ball game. She gave them some easy ground balls and she got more strikeouts this weekend then she is used to getting. She's just getting better and we have a lot of games left and I'm excited moving forward with what she looked like this weekend."
On the production the offense was able to provide throughout the series…
"We sprayed the hits today and we didn't even out hit them, but we beat them because we did the little things that we haven't been doing. I'm proud of that, we drew a couple of walks but this weekend we mostly won because we got critical hits and timely hits. The RBI's have been hard to come by for us lately and we made adjustments with our at bats and we beat a good pitcher today. We know that, she's good, we competed for seven and we came out on top."
Weather permitting, Utah will be back in action at Dumke Family Softball Stadium on Tuesday, April 12th, for a double header against Utah Valley University. The games can be seen via live stream provided by Utah Athletics.
Live results will also be available for the contests and fans can keep up with live game action and highlights by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.