The streak is over.
A ninth-inning walk-off single by Lauren Espalin propelled Cal to a 1-0 win over No. 5 Arizona on Saturday in Berkeley, snapping the Wildcats’ 21-game winning streak.
It’s the first time the Wildcats have been shut out this season. They fall to 39-8 overall and 16-1 in the Pac-12. Their last loss came on March 10 against Florida State.
Saturday’s game was a pitcher’s duel between Arizona’s Alyssa Denham and Cal’s Kamalani Dung .
Denham (11-3) didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning, while Dung didn’t give one up until the fourth. In total Denham allowed only three hits and racked up nine strikeouts in 8.2 innings.
Two of those hits came with two outs in the ninth. Amani Bradley tripled to right center before Espalin stroked a single up the middle to plate the game’s only run.
Arizona failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position, leaving nine on the bags, most of whom reached via walk. The Wildcats had just two hits and drew seven walks.
After walking for the second time, Rylee Pierce reached third in the top of the ninth thanks to a Peanut Martinez sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. It was only the second time a UA runner had reached third, but pinch hitter Hillary Edior struck out to end the inning.
Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza was the other UA player to reach third when she did it in the first inning. She walked and was moved over by two groundouts. Dejah Mulipola struck out to end the frame.
The Wildcats hit 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
Even in game one, the ‘Cats looked lackadaisical but were able to pull it together for one inning to get a win. Saturday’s game showed Arizona—a team many believe can reach the Women’s College World series for the first time in nearly a decade—that no team can be taken for granted, not even the last-place Golden Bears.
The loss puts Arizona’s conference title hopes in limbo as they’re now tied for first with UCLA. Arizona does not have much, if any, more room for error. The Wildcats still have to play No. 4 Washington (at home) and No. 2 UCLA (on the road).
The Bruins face Utah this weekend then Stanford next weekend before hosting Arizona to wrap up the regular season.
Arizona will try to salvage a series win against Cal at noon on Sunday.