SALT LAKE CITY – Arizona starter Estela Piñon pitched all 11 innings plus drove in three runs and Hallie Wilson singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th to lead seventeenth-ranked Arizona softball (23-10, 3-2 Pac-12) to a 6-5 win over Utah (13-15-1, 0-5 Pac-12).
The single was Wilson's first of the night and it came in her career-high sixth plate appearance. With two out and runners at first and second, Wilson plated Kelsey Rodriguez to end a five-inning scoring drought.
Arizona had runners on in every inning from the seventh to the 10th innings. Two of the innings ended with double plays for the Cats; Arizona hit into four double plays in the game, three line drive double plays, the most of the season.
The extra-inning game was the first of Arizona's season and the 11 innings were the most since the Cats needed 12 innings to dispatch of Hofstra on May 23, 2010 to win the Tucson Regional.
Piñon, was brilliant after the fourth inning. In the first four innings, Piñon allowed five runs on five hits; in the final seven frames, the junior pitched a two-hit shutout. Piñon struck out two, walked five and hit three batters while picking up the 11-inning complete game victory. Piñon tossed 165 pitches and improved to 8-3.
Piñon also got it done at the plate. The junior's bases-loaded triple in the fourth was the first three-bagger of her career,
After the teams exchanged zeros on the scoreboard for the first two and a half innings, Utah struck first in the bottom of the third.
Kelsi Hoopiiaina recorded a one out single and was tripled home by Kate Dickman. Shelby Pacheco's sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the third.
The Wildcats responded in a big way in the top of the fourth. Lauren Young singled, Kelsey Rodriguez reached on an error and Mandie Perez walked to load the bases with one out for Piñon. The pitcher tripled the bases clear, her first career triple, to give the Cats the lead. UA added on to the advantage with a Hallie Wilson RBI fielder's choice to make it 4-2 after three and a half.
Piñon retired the first two batters she faced in the fourth before issuing two free passes. Jackie Sweet made her pay with a three-run homer to left to make it 5-4 Utes.
The Cats tied the game with help from a Utah error in the top of the fifth. Chelsea Suitos reached on a two-base error by Utah pitcher Mariah Ramirez. The second baseman moved to second on Goodacre's groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brigette Del Ponte to knot the game at five.
After neither team scored for 11 consecutive half-innings, the Wildcats broke the drought in the top of the 11th. Kelsey Rodriguez led off the inning with a bunt single and Perez reached on a sacrifice fielder's choice when the Utah defense failed to get the lead runner on the play. After two outs, Hallie Wilson singled up the middle to break the tie and put the pressure on the Utes in the 11th.
Chalese Fankhauser knocked a one-out single in the bottom half of the inning but it would be all the Utes could manage as Piñon secured victory for the Cats.
The Cats aim for the series sweep Saturday at noon MDT.
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