Softball Downed by Beavers in Middle Game, 3-1
CORVALLIS, Ore. – In a game that didn't see a lot of scoring from either side, Utah softball (26-27, 8-15) was defeated by Oregon State (33-18, 9-14) on Friday, 3-1.
Senior arm Sydney Sandez made her 19th start of the season and saw a short outing, going just one inning as the Beavers scored all three of their runs in the first. Against the third batter of the game, Sandez gave up a two-run homer and two batters later a sacrifice fly that plated the third and final run for Oregon State. Shi Smith replaced Sandez in the circle in the second and was spectacular, throwing five scoreless innings giving up just five hits while fanning five on the afternoon.
Haley Denning picked up a couple hits in the contest for her 18th multi-hit game of the year to lead Utah at the plate. Kendall Lundberg scored the only run for the Utes off her third home run of the season in the sixth. Ellessa Bonstrom, Julia Jimenez, Jordyn Gasper and Elicia Espinosa all had a hit as Bonstrom collected her second triple of the season.
With the loss, the Utes are now a game under .500 (26-27) and will need to bounce back tomorrow with a win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Final: Beavers 3, Utes 1
The Utes got to work right away as Belarde was hit by a pitch and Denning reached safely with an infield single. She wasted no time swiping second for her 22nd stolen base to put a pair of Utes on the pond with no outs. A strikeout followed for the first out of the frame and Jimenez hit into a fielder's choice as Belarde was thrown out at home. Denning was able to advance to third with two away. However, a pair of Utes were left stranded as a strikeout ended the top of the first.
After throwing six scoreless in relief last night, Sandez headed back out to the circle for the Utes but saw a shaky first inning as the Beavers scored three runs off three hits to jump out in front. Oregon States Mariah Mazon's bat continued to stay hot, hitting her third home run of the series and a sacrifice fly came two batters later to cross the third run on the inning. Sandez would get out of the first issuing a groundout to Jimenez at third.
It was a swift inning for Utah in the second as two struck out swinging and Gasper roped one through the right side for the lone hit of the frame. Gasper was left on base off an infield pop up to the Oregon State short stop.
Sandez's outing came to an end in the second after allowing a leadoff single to right. Smith took over in the circle and retired the first two batters she faced but a double to the left center gap put runners on second and third. A walk ensued and Smith picked up her first strikeout of the day to keep the Beavers off the board.
Utah was unable to find a hit in the third, leaving Bonstrom on base after she was hit by a pitch with two outs. In the bottom of the inning, Smith gave up a leadoff infield single but would only face the minimum as Denning made an incredible play tracking down a foul ball along the third base line for the second out and Belarde handled a double play herself to end the third.
The Utes threatened in the fourth after loading the bases with two outs. Morris led off with a walk and a fielder's choice by Gasper two batters later would get pinch runner CC Cook out at second. Faulk followed drawing the second walk of the inning as pinch hitter Sophie Jacquez found a hit up the middle to load the bases. However, a soft fly out to the short stop ended the Utah threat in the fourth.
Smith held off Oregon State yet again in the bottom of the frame, but needed to work around a walk, single and wild pitch to leave a pair of Beavers on base.
Bonstrom hit her second triple of the season with one gone in the fifth, but a couple of groundouts left her at third. Smith rang up the first two Beavers for her third and fourth strikeouts of the game and turned away Oregon State with a foul out to left field after walking her third batter.
Lundberg launched her third home run of her freshman campaign in the leadoff spot of the sixth to cut into the Beaver lead, 3-1. Espinosa entered as a pinch hitter for Faulk and hit a single into right field, but an infield pop up to second followed as pinch runner AJ Militello was doubled up at first for the final out. Smith made quick work of Oregon State going one-two-three and picking up her fifth strikeout in the process.
Down to their last three outs, Denning slapped a one out single into left and advanced to second off a fielding error by the leftfielder. A strikeout followed for the second out as Jimenez found her first hit of the contest pushing Denning to third and moving herself into scoring position on second on the throw. Morris, the go-ahead run, came up to the plate and was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Applying some pressure, Oregon State made a pitching change as Lundberg stepped into the box. Electing to go with their freshman arm, it was a battle of the newcomers that was won by the Beavers as Lundberg flew out to right field to end the game.
The Utes will be back at Kelly Field tomorrow afternoon for the series finale against Oregon State. First pitch is slated to be thrown at 1 p.m. MT and can be seen via live stream provided by Oregon State Athletics.
Live stats will also be available for the games and fans can keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.