The California Golden Bears came into Friday’s game dead last in the conference, having won only three conference games all season. Their numbers, however, suggested a team that needed improved defense, but also needed better luck.
Against the Arizona Wildcats, they came out looking to prove they could compete against the league’s best. Despite a sloppy game, the Wildcats proved too tough, walking away with the 6-3 victory.
The Wildcats improve to 39-7 overall and 16-0 in the Pac-12. They have won 21 in a row.
Taylor McQuillin went the distance for Arizona, giving up three runs (only one earned) on nine hits. She struck out nine and walked one on 93 pitches.
Jessie Harper hit home run No. 22, scored two runs and had three RBI. Reyna Carranco was the only Wildcat with a multi-hit game. She had two singles and drew a walk.
Both teams played sloppy defense, committing three errors each.
Arizona got the scoring started in the top of the first in what was a sloppy defensive effort from the Bears. The Wildcats only got one hit, but Cal committed two errors to allow Harper to score an unearned run.
Whatever got into Cal’s defense seemed to affect Arizona, too. McQuillin gave up a solo home run to leadoff hitter Lindsay Rood. Lauren Espalin would also get a hit, but McQuillin kept the score even.
The second inning was even worse for the Wildcats. After forcing Cal pitcher Zoe Conley to throw just nine pitches in a 1-2-3 inning, Arizona took the field for a comedy of errors on defense.
McQuillin again allowed the lead-off batter to reach by walking Jordan Fines. Krysten McCue singled on the next pitch, and an error by UA right-fielder Jenna Kean allowed both runners to take the extra base. It was two on, no outs.
It looked like McQuillin had settled down when she struck out Destiny Blueford on three pitches, but things weren’t going to be that easy. Sabrina Nunez followed with a single, scoring both Fines and McCue for two unearned runs and a 3-1 Cal lead.
It looked like Cal might break things open. In her second hit in as many innings, Rood singled. Another error—this one by Carranco—allowed her and Nunez to take the extra base. Two in scoring position, only one out.
Arizona’s defense picked itself up and rose to the occasion. Amani Bradley hit a grounder to Harper, who got the out at first. Nunez took a risk, trying to score on the play. Rylee Pierce was too quick, firing the ball to Dejah Mulipola for the out at home. The double play ended the inning without any more damage, but Cal had the two-run lead.
The offense seemed to feed off the defensive stop. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza led off the top of the third with a walk, then was moved into scoring position by a Carranco single. As it turned out, both were actually in scoring position. Harper knocked her 22nd home run to right-center, putting the Wildcats up 4-3.
Mulipola drew the second walk of the inning, giving the Wildcats another base runner with no outs. A wild pitch moved her into scoring position, giving Malia Martinez the opportunity for an RBI.
Martinez took full advantage of that opportunity, scoring Mulipola with a single. The attempt to get Mulipola out at home allowed Martinez to move up to second. Arizona had a 5-3 lead, no outs and another runner in scoring position.
Arizona wrapped up the scoring for the day with an RBI single by Peanut Martinez before Kean lined out to end the inning.
Both teams had opportunities in the late innings, when they got runners into scoring position, but neither could break through. Despite Cal committing another error in the fifth inning and Arizona adding their third error in the seventh, neither team could generate more offense.