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Arizona softball: Walk-off hit propels Utah to series win over the Wildcats

Suddenly Arizona is on a two-game losing streak

Photo via @utahathletics on Twitter

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Alyssa Barrera lined a single to center, scoring Ryley Ball from second to propel the No. 14 Utah Utes to a 3-2 walk-off win over the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

Barrera’s game-winning single snuck under the glove of a diving Reyna Carranco and Ball, a speedy pinch-runner, beat Alyssa Palomino’s throw to the plate, as Utah handed Arizona its first series loss of the season.

Arizona falls to 41-3 overall and 13-2 in the Pac-12, while Utah improves to 28-8 and 10-3, respectively.

The Wildcats’ bats struggled to get going for the second straight game as they were outhit 7-5.

With the game knotted at 2-2, Arizona loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Mo Mercado grounded out to end the threat.

The Wildcats hit 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in what was a back-and-forth affair early on.

Mercado singled home Mandie Perez in the top of the first to give UA a 1-0 lead, but Utah immediately responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning.

The Utes’ first three batters singled off Danielle O’Toole and the fourth batter, Anissa Urtez, knocked sacrifice fly to right to tie the game.

The next batter fouled out for the second out of the inning, but O’Toole surrendered a two-out RBI single to Bridget Castro, giving Utah a 2-1 lead.

That lead was short-lived as Tamara Statman scored on an errant throw in the top of the second to tie the game at 2-2.

From there, O’Toole settled in, tossing five scoreless frames in a row, before Barrera’s walk-off single in the seventh.

O’Toole (22-2) pitched 6 23 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out eight.

Katie Donovan started in the circle for the Utes and went 3 13 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks.

She was relieved by Miranda Viramontes (12-1) in the fourth inning and Viramontes, who pitched well in Friday’s game, tossed 3 23 scoreless innings.

Hillary Edior hit a pinch-hit double off Viramontes with one out in the top of the seventh and the Wildcats later loaded the bases with two outs after Perez was hit by a pitch and Katiyana Mauga walked.

Arizona could not capitalize, but Utah would in the bottom half of the inning.

The Wildcats return to action Tuesday when they will travel to Las Cruces, New Mexico to take on New Mexico State for a doubleheader.

After that, Arizona will return home to face No. 4 Oregon (37-3, 10-3 Pac-12) for a three-game series that holds significant implications in the Pac-12 title race.

That series starts Friday and all three games will be nationally televised. Friday’s game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks and the final two games will be televised on ESPN2.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire